Jackie's Memorial Garden

The Same Smile

The Triumph of a Mother's Love
After Losing Two Daughters
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The StorY

Susan Mello Souza
shares an intimate look at the heartbreaking time when at 16, she discovers that she is pregnant. An unwed teen mother in the 60's was not an option and Susan is forced to give up her precious child to adoption. After caring for her for eight days while in the maternity ward, Susan says goodbye to her firstborn; but not before she whispers in her ear a promise that she will find her again when Madlyn turns 21...


In 1968, at the age of seventeen, Susan was made to surrender her first-born daughter to adoption. Her birthmother experience has led Susan to become an active member in various birthmother support groups, while providing her the opportunity to assist several individuals in their reunions. Born and raised in New Bedford, MA, ...

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Adopted in October 1968 when she was just three weeks old, Joanne was named after her adoptive parents, Joe and Ann Medeiros.
She grew up in Fall River, MA with three younger brothers, Jay, Don and Rick, who were each a surprise to Joe and Ann since the doctors had informed them of their inability to conceive, hence Joanne's adoption...  
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Book Excerpt Reflections on Jackie by Sr. Clare Walsh, Floating Hospital

Jackie's Eulogy 2/22/90 "Of one thing I am certain: Everyone in this church has a Jackie Pequita story. We each know a piece of this valiant young woman, and it is my privilege to share something of my Jackie story. Others who know... "

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Click to read the article from People Magazine

The Book

The Same Smile Book about the loss of two daughters, one to cancer, and one to adoption, and how their mother thrives after the losses

"'The Same Smile'
is ultimately the story of a family that has transformed enormous pain and suffering into a joyous ability to embrace the patterns that life offers up and to make something very beautiful out of both the darkness and the light..." Maureen O'Donnell

"'The Same Smile,' a wonder book…it lets others realize what we first mothers really went through and what we even go through today, reliving every moment of the past. The best book I’ve read." (Mayre – Kentucky)

"Just have been reading every spare moment. I find myself delaying the things I need to do, only to read." (Jean – Michigan)

More from Susan and her girls


Shadowy, bare branches loom ominously over the familiar streets. Christmas lights decorating our neighbors' houses seem frighteningly wrong. During the one-hour drive home, waves of intense pain grip my chest and back, pain that is always a prelude to my mysterious and ever-worsening bouts of pneumonia. I pray I will make it to our house and not become ill again... Click to read the entire Prologue...

Susan Mello Souza,  Joanne Mederios and sisters

Bonus Chapter

This bonus chapter was originally intended to be the closing chapter of The Same Smile. However, my wise and wonderful editor, Carol Schaefer, felt ending the story with our first Christmas celebration with Joanne would be more powerful and, indeed, it was!
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