Michele Launders’s account of how she gave up her infant daughter for adoption, then discovered that the little girl had been abused and killed (PEOPLE, Aug. 27), prompted the fourth-highest reader response of the year. Most correspondents expressed compassion for Michele, but some accused her of trying to profit from Lisa’s death.
My heart goes out to Michele Launders for the guilt she carries over the death of her daughter. When she forgives herself. I hope this loving, caring young woman will have another child. It would not be a slap in the face to Lisa but a tribute to her memory.
Little Lisa Steinberg’s abusers had accomplices. They included an unregulated legal profession, an overburdened social service system and a community attitude of indifference. How many beaten, battered, bruised and dead children does it take to convince communities that child-abuse prevention must become a priority?
Gary W. Duncan
The tragedy that befell Lisa and Michele Launders was due in part to the fact that Lisa was never legally adopted. Most states have strict guidelines regulating private adoption, including mandatory background checks of adopting couples. I urge birth parents considering private adoption to consult their local bar association to find an attorney specializing in adoption.
Nancy D. Poster
Great Falls, Va.
Joel Steinberg’s well-publicized trial hit the papers last year when a private adoption was being arranged for our family through a physician and an attorney. Fortunately the negative publicity surrounding the case did not discourage our birth mother from going through with the adoption. She gave up her baby in good faith, knowing that most adoptions bring joy. not tragedy. But I cannot help but think that the article by Lisa Steinberg’s natural mother will rekindle the old fears of birth mothers across the country who have no way of knowing that their children are now happy and cherished members of legal adoptive families.
I would like to have some faith in our judicial system, but it appears to me that the more atrocious the crime, the lesser the punishment. Steinberg kills a 6-year-old and is sentenced to 8 1/3-to-25 years. Russell Hackler steals two six-packs of beer and could have gotten four years. Does that indicate Lisa’s life is worth about twice as much as two six-packs?
Margaret L. Taff
Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Your article about Michele Launders’s agonizing plight really hit home. I recently found myself in a situation similar to hers: 18, unwed and pregnant. While the decision to abort was extremely painful and difficult to make, I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t the most merciful option after all. It’s a terrifying thought, but had my child survived, he or she might have shared the same fate as Lisa Steinberg.
Michele should not blame herself because she gave Lisa up for adoption, but she should feel guilty about retaining book revenues for her teenage-pregnancy story. According to Michele, her story is being told to assist others. If that is the real reason, then why aren’t the book revenues being given to agencies that assist unwed mothers, legal adoption or battered children?
The heartbreaking story of Lisa Steinberg’s demise is made even sadder by her biological mother now selling her story for financial gain.
St. Davids, Pa.
Launders says she hopes to use the money to help unwed mothers and abused children.—ED.
Give credit where credit is due. Dan Rather does a magnificent job. whether “over there” or at his anchor desk. The backstabbing from others is ridiculous and should be beneath their dignity—or have they lost that too?
Never before have I read an article where someone patted himself on the back so much for not doing his job. If Mr. Rather would like to be a reporter out in the field, why doesn’t he give up his highly inflated anchorman salary and allow CBS to hire someone who wants the job and will do it properly. Give me Peter Jennings any day!
Catherine L. Muscat
Thank you for your article on author William Styron. I myself am a victim of depression. My grandfather committed suicide after fighting it for almost a year. He died from it, as did his brother, and his father suffered from it too. More power to William Styron and to others now suffering from this disease. I hope that more people discover that depression is a serious illness and not a figment of the imagination.