A 19-year-old unwed mother, whom we’ll call Charlotte, recently placed her baby girl for adoption through LDS Family Services. She shared her difficult experience with the New Era. Charlotte realizes that her violation of the law of chastity has complicated her life. But she has taken the necessary steps to receive, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, forgiveness and healing of spirit. This article focuses on her adoption decision, not on the process of her repentance.
I can still remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I was filled with dread and shock and fear. When I told my boyfriend the test was positive, we both sat in silence for a long time.
He finally hugged me, but I was too shocked to cry. I remember saying, “So what’s next? Should we get married?”
He was just as shocked as I was. He asked me if there were any other options besides marriage. I was upset by that because I assumed he was referring to abortion, which was out of the question.
A few days after I found out I was pregnant, I decided to tell my mom. It was a Sunday night, and we were lying down in the family room, tired after a long weekend of moving. Suddenly I said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.”
She asked, “What?”
I hesitated, then said, “I’m pregnant.”
She didn’t cry at first, but after we started talking, she started to cry but stayed calm enough for us to talk. I had been afraid she would be upset, but she was loving and supportive.
My mom later told my dad, and he came into my room and hugged me and offered his love and support. Just weeks before I found out I was pregnant, he had given me a birthday card in which he wrote that he was proud of me. I remember reading that card and being sad at the thought of disappointing him.
As the days passed, Charlotte started thinking of her options: to get married, to be a single parent, or to place her baby for adoption. She determined that a successful marriage was not possible for her, so she followed her doctor’s advice to go to LDS Family Services to discuss her options. Charlotte started seeing a counselor there named Kathy (name has been changed).
For a couple of weeks, Kathy and I talked about single parenting. She gave me a lot of articles and worksheets that dealt with the emotional, physical, and financial aspects of raising a child. I knew my parents would help support my baby and me, but it was scary to think, “What if I had to do it on my own?”
We discussed the pros and cons of single parenting. “Where would I live?” “Would the baby be a source of contention between me and my parents?” “Would I work full time?” “What about child care?” and so on.
We discussed how I might have to live with my parents and how girls struggle with that. Young mothers worry about their mothers taking over and being the mother of the child, and that can cause a lot of contention between the two. I also wondered if I would be able to go to college if I were a single mom. I would probably have to work full time, which wouldn’t make it easy to go to school.
Kathy asked me what appealed to me about single parenting. As I thought about it, all my reasons for choosing to be a single parent were selfish. They all boiled down to the fact that I’d have my baby with me. The problem with that is, I knew she wasn’t just mine. My baby was Heavenly Father’s child.
In my next couple of appointments with Kathy, we talked about adoption and how that process works. Finally, after weeks of meeting with Kathy, I felt that I had a good idea of what was involved with adoption and with single parenting.
Being a single parent would be hard, as would placing my baby for adoption. So I prayed about this decision continually. I put off deciding to place my baby for adoption because it was a difficult decision I didn’t want to make right away.
I came to the decision to place my baby for adoption after months of soul searching, deep thought, and lots of prayer. It took me a long time to feel like I had an answer. Even when I knew I had an answer, I sometimes wanted to not follow it. But I knew it was what I needed to do.
One night I was looking at one of my favorite pictures of the Savior. It shows Him with a little boy sitting on His knee looking up at Him. As I looked at that picture I could imagine my own child sitting up in heaven on the Lord’s knee. I realized that my baby would be coming to me straight from God’s arms. I began to realize the worth of the soul I was carrying. It was easy at that moment for me to forget my own cares and concerns and see the bigger picture. I knew I needed to place my baby for adoption, so I began to pray for the strength to be able to do it.
At my next meeting with Kathy, I told her my decision.
After deciding on adoption, Charlotte met with her bishop.
I put off talking to my bishop for a long time because I felt like I needed to know what I was doing and, as silly as this sounds, I felt like I wasn’t worthy to talk to him. It would have been better if I had talked with him months earlier, but my emotions were in turmoil. I was embarrassed about breaking the law of chastity, angry at myself and my boyfriend for the mistake we had made, and resentful about being pregnant. I was confused and just didn’t feel ready to talk with my bishop.
But then, a few months before I was due, my bishop called me in to see him. I took the opportunity to confess, and he heard me with compassion. He also helped confirm that adoption was right for me and my baby. Immediately after talking to him, I asked myself, “Why didn’t I do that earlier?!” Had I talked to him earlier, he would’ve been such a help to me throughout my decision-making and repentance process. Instead, I was punishing myself and holding myself back from receiving revelation through him.
Having decided to place her baby for adoption, Charlotte started looking at profiles of adoptive parents. Adoptive parents give LDS Family Services a collage of family pictures, a letter to the birth parents, and an information sheet about themselves.
After four or five weeks of looking at profiles, I narrowed them down to two families I was considering and praying about. One family seemed fun, an adorable family. But when I read the other family’s letter, I felt the Spirit so strongly. I felt like I knew the adoptive parents before I met them.
I had been praying to know which family to choose. It was hard to get an answer to my prayers. I felt as though the Lord wasn’t going to give me a really strong answer because He wanted me to make the decision. So I did, and I knew it was right because of that spirit I felt when I read the family’s letter.
About a month before I gave birth, I wrote the family a letter saying I had chosen them and wanted them to pray about being the parents of my baby. I got an answer from them in three days. I guess they didn’t need to pray about it as long as I did! They said they knew the decision was right the moment they read my letter.
We met each other a few weeks before I gave birth, and we bonded immediately. At LDS Family Services, my parents and I met the adoptive parents and their six-year-old daughter. We visited for about two hours, talking and getting to know each other. The day after we met each other, they wrote me a letter saying how good they felt about everything. They said it was an answer to their prayers.
After I gave birth to my baby girl, I had a couple days with her to myself. The night before the placement was hard. I was holding the baby, thinking, “How am I going to do this? Will I be able to do this?” I was praying for strength.
The next step was placement, the meeting at LDS Family Services when the birth mother gives the baby to the adoptive parents. Charlotte’s parents and sister came with her, and the adoptive couple’s parents were there too.
The first one to hold my baby was the adoptive family’s six-year-old daughter. I wanted my baby to have a sister, so I thought it was important that she hold her baby sister first. Our families then spent an hour talking, getting acquainted, and taking pictures.
At the end of our visit, I held my baby for the last time and then gave her to her adoptive mom. I felt a sense of relief and knew that I was doing the right thing. I saw love and joy on the parents’ faces. It was great for them to get their baby, but I could see pain in their eyes for me. I knew they could feel my sacrifice. I’ll never forget the look in their eyes as I gave them a hug and left. They were so grateful.
I didn’t really feel sad—until that night, when the shock had passed. That night was the hardest part of the process for me. My thoughts were racing, and I was very emotional. I was wondering if my daughter was eating regularly. In the hospital she didn’t have an appetite. I wondered if she was crying or if she was content.
The next day, Kathy came to my house with a letter and a packet of pictures from the adoptive family. The letter answered all the questions that had been racing through my mind the night before. I felt better immediately.
Six months after Charlotte placed her baby for adoption, she says:
It has been a gradual healing process for me, both spiritually and emotionally. Every week seems to get better. I feel more confidence in my relationship with the Lord, and I’m still getting letters and pictures from the adoptive family. I have gone back to college full time and back to work part time.
Placing my baby for adoption was hard, but I felt it was right. I was guided by the Spirit. It’s amazing how it worked out so well.
To learn how LDS Family Services can help, visit www.itsaboutlove.org or call 1-800-537-2229. All of the services are free and do not require a bishop’s referral. Those dealing with morality problems should actively seek the counsel of their bishop.
Teen Mothers and Adopted Children
Young women who place their babies for adoption are more likely to complete high school and go on to higher education. They are more likely than single mothers to have a job and less likely to live in poverty or receive government help. They are also less likely to get pregnant again before they’re married.
Children who are raised by a mother and a father are less likely to be involved in crime or pre-marital sexual behavior. They are more likely to develop better intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically.
Children of unwed mothers who keep their babies have more problems later in life than those who are adopted. They are more likely to have a child out of wedlock, drop out of high school, and have emotional or behavioral problems.
Teen mothers are not able to give themselves or their children as many opportunities in life. They usually don’t have the financial or emotional resources that children need to grow up to be happy, successful adults.
“When marriage is not possible, experience has shown that adoption, difficult though this may be for the young mother, may afford a greater opportunity for the child to live a life of happiness. Wise and experienced professional counselors and prayerful bishops can assist in these circumstances.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Save the Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 53.
For more on adoption, you can read these articles in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org:
“Could I Let My Baby Go?” (Ensign, Feb. 2002)
“What’s Best for My Baby?” (New Era, Nov. 2001)
“But What Was Best for the Baby?” (Ensign, July 1999)
“Guidance for Unwed Parents” (Ensign, Sept. 1994), by Elder Monte J. Brough
“My Decision” (Ensign, Aug. 1991)
“A Special Child” (Friend, April 1975), by Elder Theodore M. Burton