Eve Burch, “A Greater Love,” Ensign, Jun 2006, 58–60
An unusual telephone call changed the course of my life.
I don’t remember when my parents first told me I was adopted. It was just part of who I was—like my blue eyes and my love of music. My father always made it sound like something wonderful. He said he and my mother had especially chosen me, while other parents had to take what they were given. As I grew, I knew that my parents, to whom I had been sealed in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, were the parents I was supposed to have. My love for my family members grew each day, and I knew that no matter what my bloodline was, they were truly my family.
Yet during my teenage years, I often thought that someday I would like to find the woman who had given birth to me. I was curious about the circumstances surrounding my birth, and, most of all, I wanted to thank my birth mother for what she had done for me. Although I did not fully comprehend the complexities of the decision she had made, I did know that placing a child for adoption was not a popular choice. I was incredibly grateful that my birth mother had chosen to give me something she could not provide herself—an eternal family with both a mother and a father to love and care for me.
The year 1992 turned out to be very eventful for me. I married my sweetheart in the Las Vegas Nevada Temple in May. I will be eternally grateful that my father was able to attend our wedding, because that was the last time I saw him. We lost him unexpectedly six weeks later due to a heart attack and associated complications. It took me awhile to adjust to the addition of one man to my life and the loss of another. But Heavenly Father always knows when we are ready to grow through trials and challenges.
By the end of the year, when life was starting to feel a little more settled, I got an unusual telephone call from my mother. She had received a letter from a couple in Utah who said they were the maternal grandparents of a baby girl placed for adoption in Sandpoint, Idaho, 28 years previously. They requested that if my parents were willing, the information containing their names, address, and telephone number be forwarded to me.
My mother explained that the letter had taken a miraculous journey to reach her. It was originally mailed to the family with whom my biological mother had stayed during her pregnancy. This family forwarded it to a dear lady who had been in my parents’ ward at the time I was adopted. She had long since moved from Sandpoint, but the family remembered where she worked and sent it there. This sister in turn forwarded the letter to my parents—in Sandpoint, Idaho—with no street address. Although Sandpoint is a relatively small town, under normal circumstances it still would have been next to impossible to deliver a letter with no street address. But my mother had worked for years as a mail carrier and was well known at the Sandpoint post office. The letter was hand-delivered directly to her when it arrived. I can’t help but believe there was heavenly assistance in helping this letter along its journey.
My mother told me she would mail the information to me rather than give it to me over the telephone. She said she wanted to allow me time to decide what I would do.
The next few days passed slowly as I pondered my options. Even after receiving the letter, I carried it around in my purse for two weeks. I knew that contacting these people would answer many of the questions I’d always had. And yet I had heard of so many reunions of this kind that had not ended well. I could be opening myself up to so many things. In the end, however, I knew that if I did not attempt to contact this couple, I would always be curious and wonder what would have happened if I had made a different decision.
One afternoon at work, I finally convinced myself to make the phone call. I spoke with two sweet-sounding people who could not emphasize enough how happy they were that I had called. They briefly told me about their family and the circumstances surrounding my birth. Their daughter, Karen, had become pregnant as a high school senior, with no option of being happily married. They asked about me and my life. They requested my home phone number and told me they would have Karen call me that evening. So I went home after work quite anxious about the telephone call I was to receive.
Karen called me as promised. We spent what seemed like an eternity on the phone together. Like her parents, she wanted to know all about me, my family, and the life I had led. She was thrilled to know that I was active in the Church, had served a full-time mission, and had been married in the temple just that year. She shared with me how difficult it had been to place me for adoption and the struggles and uncertainties she had experienced since that day, wondering if she had made the right choice. She wanted to emphasize that she did not let me go because she didn’t want me or love me. She had felt strongly that I was meant to be someone else’s baby.
At that point, I did what I had always promised myself I would do if I were ever given the opportunity. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart for the decision she had made and for giving me a loving, active Latter-day Saint family. I told her that, through her sacrifice, she had allowed me to have everything I valued in my life.
Karen did not respond. At first, I was uncertain if I had said something wrong. Then I realized she was sobbing. It took a few minutes, but she was then able to share with me a special experience. In the years since my birth, she had often felt worried and anxious about me and would sometimes get depressed. During one of these periods she received a blessing of comfort from a family friend. He said many things in the blessing, but one promise stood out. She was told that at some future time, either in this life or in the life to come, we would meet again and I would thank her for the choice and sacrifice she had made. Our conversation that night was a direct fulfillment of that promise.
Even though Karen and I were miles apart, the Spirit bore witness to both of us that her choice and my growing up in the family I did were all in accordance with Heavenly Father’s plan.
Karen and I made plans to meet in person, and in the 13 years since that night, Karen has become a cherished friend. She has developed a special relationship with my sweet mother as well. Karen has never attempted to take my mother’s place. She simply adds another dimension of love to a life full of blessings. She has also become “Grandma Karen” to my four children, who adore her.
After experiencing the pregnancy and delivery of my own four children, I appreciate even more deeply the gift Karen gave me. When you carry a baby for nine months, that baby truly becomes a part of you. To give up that life so selflessly in order to allow that baby to have a complete family and the opportunity of temple blessings takes a deeper kind of love. It is true charity.