Dear 20-Year-Old Melynda –
It’s been a long time coming, I know, for me to be able to write you this letter. For many years, you were not able to hear what I am about to say, but I think you might be now. As you read this letter, please remember how loved and cherished you are by your husband and the children you have with you – here, now, today. Please remember you are surrounded by people who love and support you, people who truly understand the hurt in your heart.
This is what I have to tell you: Melynda, when you made the soul-shattering decision to relinquish Ms. Feverfew for adoption, you were doing the absolute best you knew how to do at that moment in time, given the information with which you were provided.
You trusted your priesthood leaders and your parents. There is nothing inherently wrong about trusting another person, especially your Bishop or your mother. Yes, the advice and counsel you were given was faulty, based on lies and half-truths, but that is not your fault. It wasn’t even really theirs either, especially not your mother’s. She was only doing the best she could at the time, too.
You must remember, dear friend, this was before the Internet, before you became a skilled researcher who specializes in the synthesis of large bodies of research literature. Yes, the information was out there about how this would affect both you and your daughter, but you did not have access to it and the people who DID have access and should have given you that information withheld it from you. It is hard, no – brutal, but you must accept you were not able to give your informed consent because you were not informed.
You are not to blame for others who used your overwhelming sense of responsibility towards your daughter as a tool to pry her from your arms. They should have been there to help you, and they weren’t. They failed. You didn’t.
You were hopelessly in love with your beautiful, darling baby girl and others convinced you that YOU, simply by being single, were the greatest potential threat in her life.
They convinced you adoption was the only way to protect her from all the vicissitudes of life. They told you she would be more likely to grow up and have premarital sex if you raised her, that she wouldn’t be active in the church if you raised her, that she would drop out of high school, do drugs, be abused…you know the list of things they told you, I don’t need to repeat them because they are etched on your bones. But none of that was true for you and her. NONE OF IT. How do I know this is true? One only need look at your other children to know this. One only need look at your life to know this.
You did not deserve to be separated from her and she did not deserve to be separated from you.
You did not know how this needless adoption might affect your beloved daughter’s sense of identity and worth, that she might struggle her entire life with not feeling like she belonged or that she was truly cherished and adored. You did not know. How can you be held responsible for not knowing? Certainly you know the consequences of not knowing, but you are not to blame for it. You are not to blame.
I know you struggle, and will continue to struggle for the rest of your life, with your self-worth, with believing you are a competent and capable mother. I hear the cries no one else can hear and I feel the crushing ache in your heart. It is OK for you to hurt. You are not broken, nor are you wrong for mourning what could have been…what should have been. I even understand your anger. Who wouldn’t be angry at the callous treatment you and your daughter received by a culture that draws near unto God with their lips, yet their hearts are far from him? Please know there are compensatory blessings awaiting you, even if you cannot believe or possibly comprehend how you can be compensated for this staggering loss.
I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you.
You are a blessed woman and mother. Look up from the ashes of what might have been and see the beauty of what is.
That beauty answers to the name of Matthew. That beauty answers to the name of Luke. That beauty answers to the name of Penelope Rose.
Much love and belief –
An Older & Wiser M.
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