I’m sure we’ve all had those times where we wish we could use the knowledge we have now to help us get through a difficult past experience. Sometimes it’s just wishing you could go back to a conversation and insert that witty comeback you thought of three days later. Or seeing that you missed out on a golden opportunity to teach your child a valuable lesson.

Well, I wish I had had a lot of my current knowledge about adoption when I first started my journey as a birth mother. There are so many things that could have made it a less overwhelming experience. Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful for those experiences because they’re the reason I know what I know now. But boy, would it have been nice to learn things the easy way.

So, Past Lindsey, here’s my advice:

You don’t necessarily have to move on, but know that life goes on anyway. 

This is not a way of saying “just get over it.” No. This is a way of saying that this one event in life does not define you. You will become so much more! While these events will change you—how you think, what you believe, who you trust, and how you live—know that you are not just a young girl who accidentally got pregnant. Fast forward a few years and you’ll see. You’ll be a wife to one of the most amazing men on earth! You’ll be a writer for the best adoption websites out there! You’ll be a mother AND a parent! And you will continue to grow and achieve and become even more!

“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it . . . or learn from it.” – Rafiki, in Disney’s The Lion King 

You will learn a great deal from your past. You will have innumerable opportunities to teach others and to be further taught. Don’t think of it as something to run and hide from. Embrace it, own it, and grow. Let your experiences become a tool. They will serve you well.

If your decision is right when you initially make it, it will continue to be right later. 

When you hand that gift and letter to Marcus and Jenny, and you tell them they’re Micah’s parents, you’ll know it’s the right choice. And it won’t stop being the right choice just because time goes on. Just like all truths, it won’t cease to be true just because you forget why it’s true or how it’s true. Truth is truth. Like your decision, it was right then, and it’ll be right later. You don’t need to ever worry about it again. Marcus and Jenny were meant to be his parents from the beginning.

Ask about sending breast milk for the first year. 

As you continue to grow even closer than you’d expect with Marcus and Jenny, you’ll wonder what more you could have done for them. In February 2015, Micah’s mom, Jenny, will write an article about a birth mother who provided breast milk for her child for the first year. Looking back, you’ll realize that would have been a great thing to do. It matches up with your standards of child rearing that breast milk for the first year is best. So offer! The worst thing they can say is no thank you. But you won’t know until you ask, and it will bother you later if you don’t. They’re doing you and your son a great service, so do what you can for them.

Don’t waste time – forgive yourself. 

Yes, you have made a lot of poor choices and you need to live with the consequences of your actions. No, it won’t be easy to get through it. You’ll suffer a lot because you did something you knew you shouldn’t and now can’t live up to your own standards. But guess what? It’s going to be okay. Do what you can to make up for your mistakes and start doing better going forward. Know that it is not only okay to forgive yourself, but that it’s what you need to do. You’ll go through a lot because of your choices, but you will have suffered enough without denying yourself forgiveness. Just learn from your mistakes and press forward.

You will find many reasons to continue living. 

There will be many times throughout the adoption process, your pregnancy, and even post-pregnancy when you don’t want to go on. You don’t want to hurt anymore, you don’t want to be sad anymore, you don’t want to keep suffering . . . you don’t want any of it anymore. But let me be crystal clear: Your life is worth living. You have more to do than you understand. Your work is not done. You will get married to your best friend, and you two will have a family that you love unconditionally. You will see your son and his family and grow closer with them than you could have thought possible, and you will love them with your whole heart. You will get a great education and help others with your knowledge and experiences, especially your experiences with adoption. If you press on, you will do great things. And though it may not seem like it’s possible at the time, you will be happy again. I promise.

“All things shall work together for your good.” – Doctrine & Covenants 90:24 

Latter-day Saints (Mormons) say that all you go through in life, the good times and the bad, the prosperity and trails, the ups and the downs, will all be for your benefit. There is a silver lining to every experience you have. This is no exception. You will find ways to make this journey just as beautiful as the life you’ve created. Cherish it like you cherish your son.

Are you pregnant and considering adoption? Click here to connect with an experienced, compassionate adoption professional who can help walk you through your options.