Dear Ms. Feverfew,
I am feeling pretty emotionally wrung out, like one of the old bath towels we would use to dry off after one of our daily water fights during the hot desert summers there in Utah. Invariably, just as I was almost dry enough to be let back in the house, a brother would turn the hose on me again, drenching me and the towel. I would enlist the help of one of my siblings to twist is up like a pretzel, wringing out as much water as possible so I could try to dry off again. That’s kind of what I feel like right now. I am a frayed and faded threadbare towel, laying on the hot summer sidewalk after being twisted into knots.
The first half of the 50 minute session started with me explaining my background and then I started asking him some of the questions I had brought with me. That all ended when I started asking questions about the counsel single expectant mothers are given in comparison to newly converted single mothers. With tears brimming in my eyes I asked him, “Why was I told it was selfish to raise my daughter but no one would ever consider saying that to a new convert who was single and had a nine month old daughter? What is so different about me and my daughter?” He tipped back onto the back two legs of his chair, crossed his arms and declared, “The church is not interested in justifying its position on adoption. I have a few things I would like to tell you, but I don’t think you would listen.” I said, “Try me.”
And then I sat pretty much silent for the second half as he proceeded to tell me what my problems were and how he felt he was qualified in fixing them.
So I will just hit the “highlights” of the visit with Brother O. and then digest them at greater length over the next few days.
Most Helpful Information:
- Brother O. told me that the LDS church is looking to get out of adoptions entirely. He said they are going to start referring members who need adoption services to “private agencies”, Catholic Charities, or Lutheran Family Services. When I asked him why, he said, “Members are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the heavy subsidization of adoptions through the tithes and offerings.” While I suspect that has something to do with it, I also suspect the recent lawsuits of fathers who have had their rights trampled on by LDSFS and Utah adopters working their way through the court system there in Utah has a lot to do with it too. Probably a lot more than any leader in the church is willing to admit out loud.
- Brother O. also told me that ANY LDS “birth mother” who has EVER relinquished a baby, whether with LDSFS or not is entitled to free counseling for the rest of her life. I told him he is the first person in the last 18 years that has told me this. Even his secretary told me I had to pay for the visit when I spoke with her on Monday. He leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms, tipped his chin up as the muscles around his eyes went hard, and in a low voice said, “Are you calling me a liar? Pat works for me. She doesn’t know what she is talking about.” Now that I look back, this should have been a clear sign to me to just end the conversation and be done but you know me and my crazy belief that people are fundamentally good and helpful unless they prove otherwise. But bottom line: I didn’t have to pay $112.50 yesterday to be told that my testimony of the gospel is doubtful because of the types of questions I was asking.
Sort of Helpful Information
- When asked about Fred Riley’s statement about adoption being a priesthood ordinance, he scornfully laughed and said, “He doesn’t work for LDSFS anymore. What does it matter what he said or when he said it?” I pressed him on the issue again and he said, “No, it isn’t. It never has been.” Good, glad we cleared that up.
- According to Brother O. Colorado now allows any adoptee upon the age of 18 to access their full unamended birth certificate. I don’t know if this is true or not or sort of true for some adoptees but not others.
- Church policy about contact between adoptees and natural families has changed. (Already knew that.)
- No, adoptees are not offered the free lifetime counseling if they were surrendered through LDSFS. He had no response to my question, “Why?”
Least Helpful Information
- When asked why the LDS church was so involved with NCFA, Brother O. tipped his head back again and looked down his freckled nose at me saying, “I don’t see why that is even a concern of yours.”
- When discussing adoption and the various stories from the scriptures, he raised his voice at me a bit and said, “Melynda – those are all just metaphors. What do they really mean? They are just words.” Stunned, I just looked at him not sure what to say.
- “You are truly the exception to the rule, Melynda. Most other single mothers aren’t as successful as you have been. Most other first mothers don’t get their act together either.” (Another point I should have gotten up and left.)
Really, Truly, Awful Things That Should Have Never Been Said
- “Your questions lead me to believe you have an issue with the church. You are conflating Mormonism with adoption. They are two different things.” (Uh…no. No they aren’t in this particular situation. Not when the very principles and foundational beliefs of the gospel were used a tools to convince me that my daughter deserved more than me.)
- “I think it would be good for you to meet with me. Consider it immersion therapy – it would force you to sit here and talk to a man in a white shirt and tie in an LDS church building, and face it, that’s what you really have a problem with – the LDS church.” (My response: “No it isn’t. If I had a problem with the “church,” I sure would not be sitting here today talking to you. I wouldn’t hold a temple recommend, I wouldn’t be paying tithing, and I sure wouldn’t be doing my Visiting Teaching every month.”
- He saved the best for last though. I had mentioned a couple of times that I know where my daughter lives and that she had grown into a lovely young woman and he said, “What kind of power does having the information give you?” I said what any first mother would say – I get to know that my daughter is alive and that she appears to be doing well. He pressed again, “No, what kind of satisfaction are you getting from knowing where she lives?” Hot tears started streaming down my cheeks as I looked at him and said, “I get to know that my daughter is ALIVE. This is something most first mothers NEVER get to know about their child.” Nonplussed, he pressed again with a sneer in his voice, “You must derive some type of power or satisfaction from this information, especially since her parents don’t want you involved with her life.” At this point, I had no response….I just sat there and let the tears fall. This is when I knew I was d.o.n.e. talking with him.
Needless to say, I won’t be going back no matter how fabulous Brother O. thinks it would be for me. Thank you, but I don’t need your kind of help. Even though I wouldn’t have to pay any money, the cost for the “help” he is offering is far to high.
More to come later –