I am twenty years old. When I was seventeen, I got pregnant with my first boyfriend and I had an abortion. I fell into a deep depression, blaming myself for my moral failure and my cowardice. A year later… I asked for forgiveness from God, my child, my ex-boyfriend, his mother and my mother, and I forgave myself. But I still dream about my child and imagine him or her at my side, I think about what he or she would be like now, and I speak to my child and write to him or her. Does this mean that I haven’t forgiven myself yet?

Dear Friend,

Thank you for telling us your story. Thousands of other girls have made the same poor decisions that you made, and sadly, many of them, like you, are suffering now as a result of those decisions. By telling your story, you may help influence some girl that you’ll never meet. Maybe your experience will help her to decide not to risk having sex with her boyfriend, or maybe some girl who is already pregnant will decide to keep her baby or offer it to a loving adoptive family.

We are happy to hear that you have received forgiveness from God and your family members. That is a great first step. Their forgiveness means that you don’t have to continually repeat your apologies. They have forgiven you, and it is over. In addition to forgiveness, God offers you peace and strength for your future. Talk to Him through prayer when your thoughts plague you. Trust Him to give you direction for a better future.

However, as you have expressed, just because you have been forgiven does not mean that everything is forgotten. Forgiving and forgetting are two completely different things. You cannot forget your baby any more than you could forget any child in your family. Your baby lived and died, so of course you will always remember him or her. If your child had been born, you wouldn’t want to forget him or her, would you? No, you would cherish the thought of that loved one forever. You may have never seen your child’s face, but you felt him or her with your heart, and that is impossible to forget.

The more you try to forget something, the more you will remember it. So instead of trying to forget, focus on your future children and the kind of mother you plan to be someday. Think of your future son or your future daughter, how you will love each of them, and how you will discipline them. What dreams do you have for them? What will you name them? Imagine how wonderful it will feel to hold them in your arms.

In the meantime, don’t make the same mistakes again. Determine that you will not have a sexual relationship with any other man until after you marry him. That is the best way to plan a happy life for yourself and for your future children.

We wish you well,