Sunday, September 20, 2009


There is one person who had a big influence on my decision to adopt, and I haven't mentioned her yet. I have never met her - and I won't. That will be a reunion for the next life, not this one. But were it not for her, I wouldn't be where I am, and I wouldn't have known pre-Roo what an amazing thing adoption can be.

Her name was Roberta, and she is my mother's birth mother.

Roberta was a twenty-one-year-old divorcee with a young son when she fell in love with a married Naval officer. Roberta became pregnant. When she told the young man she loved what had happened, he left her, and as far as I know he never contacted her again. She was living in the San Diego area at the time, as were my grandparents. My grandmother's father was, in addition to being the Stake President, an administrator at Quintard Hospital.

As I've heard the story told, Roberta was meeting with my great-grandfather to discuss her impending labor, and what was best for the precious child she carried. My grandmother, who was probably about six months pregnant at the time, saw Roberta leaving the administrator's office and thought to herself, That's supposed to be my baby. My great-grandfather must have thought his daughter was a little crazy, but the arrangements were made.

Roberta gave birth to a tiny baby girl on a Saturday evening in April. My grandparents were called at the party they were attending and told the good news. Roberta spent the night with her new daughter. I cannot imagine what must have gone through her head. I cannot imagine the heartbreak or the emptiness she must have felt, knowing that this short space of time would be all she had with her precious baby.

When the time came, Roberta placed her tiny daughter in my grandmother's arms. She said only one thing that I know of. "You'll have her sealed to you, won't you?" My grandparents promised that they would (and they did, in the Los Angeles Temple). I imagine that there were papers to sign, legal things to take care of. And then Roberta left the hospital alone.

I can't think of her without crying. I can't imagine placing a child for adoption in the fifties. Roberta would never know what became of her daughter. She would never hear from the adoptive family, never know if the child she placed was happy or safe or even alive. I can only imagine the depth of emotion she experienced. Roberta never told anyone what she had done, what had happened. When we tracked down my mother's half-sisters a few years back they were stunned to hear that their mother had placed a baby for adoption in 1957. Roberta had never spoken a word of it, and the secret had died with her years before.

My mother had, by all accounts, a wonderful childhood. She was sealed to her parents and she went to church every week and learned the gospel of Jesus Christ. She had everything in the world that her birth mother wanted for her.

I have always known that my mother was adopted, and I have always known that she was loved. If anything, I got the impression that her parents loved her best! Because of my mother, I have always known that adoption is a wonderful blessing and an integral part of God's plan.

I often wonder where Roberta found the strength to do what she did. How did she make herself do it? How did she walk away forever from her newborn baby? How very much she must have loved my mother do make such a selfless choice. It is because of her strength that I was able to make the choice I did for my Roo. And I am so blessed to have an open adoption, where I get e-mail almost every day and I get to visit with the sweet baby girl I placed. When I try to imagine never seeing my baby, never knowing what becomes of her, my heart breaks. How did Roberta do it?

I don't know how she did, how she pulled herself through it. But I am forever grateful that she did.

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