The world is full of lost girls, but truly, she shouldn’t have been one of them…

? The Girl Who Loved Sunflowers

She was bright and beautiful, with a mom and stepdad who always loved her, even though they didn’t stay together. She didn’t enjoy school particularly, but she was passionate about animals, and boys were drawn to her. A teenage pregnancy resulted in an open adoption plan, and from there, she was determined to find her way and make her son proud.

Yet the wrong things seemed to lure her after that. There were abusive partners, and then, an addiction to meth. She fell into the lost girl routine for a bit, but eventually she fought back, with the help of relatives who got her into rehab. That lost girl cleaned up her act, found Jesus and even started her own small business.

A year ago, she married again, moved back to Texas and tried to start a new life, even as some old demons (like depression) resurfaced. This summer, though, she suddenly went missing, and her face appeared on posters across South Texas… one of far too many lost girls in this state.

A Search ? for Answers

Her community joined in a search that went on for days. Countless prayers were said on her behalf, and for her family. Finally, her body was found in a dry retention pond not far from her home. Authorities identified her remains by the sunflower tattoo on her back.

All the hopes that she’d maybe left to seek help or just run away were dashed forever. After all, victims who end up dead can’t recover from that tragedy, and their loved ones are left to grieve the loss for the rest of their days.

There were two unforgettable eulogies at her memorial service. The stepdad who’d adopted her spoke proudly about her faith, her work ethic and her recovery from her addition. The adoptive mom who’d raised her son shared her regard for her courage and selflessness on behalf of the son they shared. She never forgot the magnitude of that sacrifice, and she never let him forget it, either. And in that regard, both ensure that her legacy is never lost.

What Makes Lost Girls? ?

There are far too many ways for young women to lose their way these days.

Those who work in adoption often witness what happens when girls grow up too close to the edge. Far too many become lost girls of sorts, who morph into disadvantaged women and too often, unprepared mothers. (Some even become birthmoms.) But why does this happen, when so many of them seem to have such unrealized potential?

Sometimes, the root cause is abuse, or a lack of family stability, parental supervision or nurture. Sometimes there are emotional issues, addiction or mental health challenges. Others had too much freedom to explore things they shouldn’t have; they lack education and opportunity. Or they were looking for love in all the wrong places, or they weren’t protected in the ways that they should’ve been, or they just never learned to love themselves.

Too often, this results in a reproductive crisis: an unplanned pregnancy, a child they aren’t ready for, and a broken heart, no matter what outcome results. Some lose or end their pregnancies early, others settle for parenthood (ready or not), and others choose adoption. Regardless: none of those “solutions” wield an exclusive power to define the result.

Where they go from there in life need not be limited by their experiences nor prior choices. Sadly, though, some are unable to forgive themselves. They struggle with a sense of inadequacy, They seem unable to permit themselves to begin again, so they join the ranks of the lost girls who somehow never get beyond the sum of their earlier experience.

? A Cause for Hope

However, there are those that learn to grow as a result of those experience– the lost girls that find their way back. They can’t change the past, they know, yet they’re determined to better their future. They’re the ones who summon the courage to build new lives and soar to new heights. It doesn’t come easy, but they won’t settle for less— not anymore.

For just like sunflowers, they can track the sun. They have an innate capacity to stand up to the most harsh conditions. They may have delicate petals, but they’ve got hardy stems. And they truly  have more than one purpose in life. We’ve been blessed to know so many of these women, in nearly three decades at Abrazo. We are so very proud of them and their brave journeys to rebuild and reinvent their lives. 

They find themselves, in time, and love with whole hearts again, lost no more. And in the process, they set a beautiful example for all the rest of us: proving there’s always a way back for even the most broken boys and lost girls.



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