I am One Angry Natural Mother

There is a fire in my belly, blazing white and fanned by the hot winds of moral turpitude of the people who profess to follow Christ, yet engage in devious, amoral behavior in His name. They commit atrocities in His name, holding themselves up as paragons of what is right, what is good, what is best.

Yes, I am angry. It is a righteous, oxidizing anger that consumes any fear in my heart and tempers the metal of my soul.

What am I so angry about? Read this story: http://ourheartslinked.blogspot.com/2010/12/keary-father-fighting-for-his-rights.html#comment-form

Yet another story about the LDS church and subterfuge they use to procure infant children for their “righteous” childless members.

Let me be perfectly clear about this: There is NOTHING righteous about what has happened to that father and his daughter. There is nothing righteous in stealing a man’s child so that other people can be parents.

I don’t know all the facts – maybe he is an abusive, alcoholic, drug dealing, kitty strangler, just like all birhtmothers are crack-whore baby abondoners. But what if he isn’t? What is he is just a man like my husband, a man who is crazy in love with his daughter? What if he is the kind of dad, who although not wealthy or white, would move heaven and earth for his daughter?

What if?

And how can we as a people who profess to have the further light and knowledge of God’s true nature, how can we allow a family to be torn apart like this, all to satisfy the baby-lust of some more “righteous” (i.e. white, wealthy) couple? God is not happy about this flesh peddling in his name, I can guarantee it.

My mother told me at one point that I was to become the Harriet Beecher Stowe of adoption in the LDS church –  I laughed at her then. This morning though…this morning I know it is Truth.

I have much more to write as it is no coincidence that just prior to learning of this story I have been reading Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. It is no coincidence I have begun to truly understand the parallels between slavery and modern infant adoption practices. It is no coincidence that I recently read the part in Douglass’ autobiography were he says that he would rather be a slave to a non-Christian master than a Christian one because they are the worst kind. Christian slave owners felt morally justified in their behavior because, after all, their religion told them it was the “right” thing.

This is exactly how the couple who now has custody of Keary’s baby feels – justified because their religion tells them they are entitled to this baby. Sure, they feel “sad” for him and his loss, but not “sad” enough to do what is morally, ethically, and legally right. Just like the children of slaves were sold, traded, or bartered away, this father has lost his child to unscrupulous human traffickers, acting in the name of “love” and “God.”

After pouring my heart out to God and watering my pillow with tears throughout the night, distraught over the plight of this father and his daughter – and frankly, in my own personal culpability in falling prey to the “what is best” argument in the LDS church –  I awoke in the morning, my path laid clearly before me.

I know exactly what it is I must do. I  know in doing it, I may finally be able to forgive myself for what what happened to us.

It is time to speak.

It is time to tell to the story of us. Out loud. In public. Calmly, eloquently, repeatedly, holding fast to the doctrine of Christ while cutting through the dogma of the Mormon culture. It is time to start petitioning the First Presidency and the Twelve for a redress of a natural parents’ grievances.

It is time.

 

[Edited 12/27/2010 to add: It looks like the adoptive parents did the right thing and returned baby Elizabeth to her mother when they found out both parents were not in agreement with the adoption. God bless them. Literally, God bless them for doing that – legally, they did not have too. It must have been the most difficult decisions for them, but I am so glad they respected both first parents enough to do what was morally and ethically correct. Now it is up to Elizabeth’s parents to work out how to parent this tiny little one between the two of them.]

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 8: Let Me See if I Can Be Perfectly Clear About This: God DOES NOT DO ADOPTION (Unless of course, the adoptive grandfather is trying to kill the child, then God makes an exception)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Making the rounds out there on the internet is this video. Take a moment and watch it.

Sounds all well and good, right? We are a bunch of orphans, plopped on this little ol’ planet and God loves us so much He adopts us into His family.  Because we are trying to be like God, then we must adopt the orphans of the world to save them from a multitude of woes.

Wrong.

The truth of the matter is this: We are already God’s children. It is impossible to “adopt” something that is already yours. (Please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: Paul’s Version for further discussion about the word “adoption” in the Bible; also please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t” (Or in other words: A question for Fred Riley of LDS Family Services) for a better understanding of how we LDS folk view our relationship to God).

The scriptures are an epic love story. They are the story of a Father’s love for his children and the extreme measures He goes to bring them back from their wanderings. He never ceases to search for us. He never quits loving us regardless of the fact that we have “sold ourselves for naught.”  In fact, He loves us so much He sent his first born, his Only Begotten Son in the flesh to pay the ransom for the rest of His children – to atone for our sins and redeem  us from our spiritual bondage (please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: He’s Into Being Born Again for further elucidation about this reality). Not to adopt us. To redeem us. That is why our Savior Jesus Christ is known as the Great Redeemer. Not the Great Adopter.

The video I have linked here uses three specific examples from the Bible to illustrate why adoption is “God’s heart,” namely, the story of Moses, the story of Esther, and the preservation of the Messianic line through Joseph’s supposed adoption of Jesus. (I have already discussed the fallacy of this belief in the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: The Jesus Was NOT Adopted Version, but let me just reiterate one more time: Joseph was Jesus’ STEP-FATHER. I personally feel that misrepresenting this righteous, loving, and protective step-father as the adoptive father of Jesus is near heresy but that’s just my personal opinion. Joseph should be held up as the supreme example of what it means to be a loving step-father, not an adoptive father.)

I know that many Christians like to use the Moses story as an example of why adoption is such a great thing and I guess, if you follow the story all the way through, it is a great story about adoption. (Well, other than that part about Moses returning to his adoptive grandfather’s household years after killing an Egyptian and then calling down the 10 plagues of Israel onto his adoptive family’s kingdom, culminating with the first born of every household dying and then a whole bunch more of his adoptive family dying when they were drowned in the Red Sea. I guess that part isn’t such a great example of adoption, is it?)

Moses’s story starts off when his PAP sees how many Israelites there are and starts to get worried about the sheer number of them. A decree is set forth that the Hebrew midwives have to kill the Hebrew babies – when that doesn’t work, the Pharaoh orders all Hebrew male children tossed into the river.  This is the political environment Moses was born into – his death certificate had already been issued by his future adoptive grandfather before he was born.  His mother hid him (and nursed him) for three months, then put him in the river. His older sister followed along so she could offer the services of her mother as a wet-nurse to whomever found baby Moses.  Their plan worked wonderfully – the Pharaoh’s daughter found him, gave him back to his natural mother until he was weaned, then took Moses into the palace as her own son.

As we all know, with the killing of a “fellow” Egyptian Moses eventually rejected his adoptive family and culture. This precipitated his flight into the wilderness where he then spent 40 years learning of his true identity and heritage. While sojourning in the wilderness, Moses was reunited with his natural family and in this act, God’s heart is revealed: God is totally into family preservation. Eventually, Moses returned to his adoptive father’s palace, this time in his true identity and name – he returned to speak Truth to power and demand that his people be set free. His people – the Israelites, not the Egyptians.  Hmmm…now that I think about it I guess that would make Moses an angry, ungrateful,  bitter adoptee according to a lot of adoptive parents I know.

In case you missed it: the reason Moses was put into the basket and floated down the river was because his adopted grandfather had issued an order to kill him. So yeah, I guess God does do adoption in RARE and UNUSUAL circumstances where the life of the child is at risk.

Now the story of Esther being “adopted” is even easier: BOTH of her parents had died. Her COUSIN took her in a raised her as his own daughter. It was a kinship “adoption” – that whole family preservation theme again. That being said, it wasn’t an “adoption” as we conceive it. Adoption as we know it today (with the falsified and sealed birth records) is a purely modern legal arrangement that simply did not exist under Talmudic law. In Talmudic law, blood relations were all that mattered. Mordecai raised her because he was following the law of the land – orphans stay with their kin folk.

I have probably belabored the point by now.  I know I have very little hope of convincing any of my born-again Christian friends that God didn’t adopt us. Most won’t listen because *gasp* I am a Mormon. Frankly, I like the idea of being the literal child of God, created in image of my eternal parents. And frankly, that’s OK if they don’t listen to me. I still love them and think they are pretty interesting people.

Hmmm…just had an interesting thought.  Born-again Christians are the ones who most frequently use the “God adopted us” and “God’s heart is adoption” themes. Does anyone else see the irony in this? These folks claim to be born again (which is a good thing, BTW) in one breath, and in the next claim that God adopted them.  ?????? If they wanted more congruency between their name and their beliefs, perhaps they should call themselves “Adopted Christians” instead of “born again.”

Maybe it is just a little bit too late and I need to get some sleep. Maybe it won’t be so ironical in the morning. Is ironical even a word?

Much love,

M.

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 3, Part B: “You are not allowed to come to church anymore because you are an idiot”

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I know, I know, I know. Once you get me talking I just can’t seem to shut my mouth!  This will be a short Part B though, I promise.

I was perusing good LDS bee-mommie blogs and came across a real gem of a statement on one of them. I guess that LDSFS holds “Husbands of Birth Mothers” information nights where boyfriends/fiance’s of those good bee-mommies get to go and ask questions of what it is like to be married to one of those kinds of women.

I guess one of the things they talk about at these discussion panels is the now-husband’s response to finding out his supposedly virginal and untainted love of his life had *gasp* “been sexual and gotten pregnant with another man’s baby” and how he had worked through forgiving her for what she had done.

Uh….really?

I rubbed my eyes hard. I took a deep breath. Uh…ummm…he has to forgive her for what???? Isn’t this whole forgiveness issue for something that happened before they met between her and her maker? He then went on to say that “I chose to forgive her but I did tell her that eventually her past will come back to haunt us.”

Haunt? Her past (which is a human being, BTW Mr. Husband of a Birth Mother, not a ghost or a figment of your tainted rose’s imagination) is going to come back and haunt them?????? Gosh, that kind of attitude has gotta make every adoptee’s heart sing.

I jumped up from my computer, made a beeline for my husband and said, “Mr. Amazing Man, you won’t believe what I just read!!!!” I then told him and he was just as agahst as I was.

Then he said one of the most fantabulous lines ever uttered by a righteous, loving, (and dead sexy) husband: “There are sometimes I wish I could just tell people, ‘You are not allowed to come to church anymore because you are an idiot.’ And that guy is an idiot.”

I sure hope you find a man like Mr. Amazing Man some day.  He’s…well, he’s amazing.

Much love,

M.

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 1

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Today marks the beginning of National Adoption Awareness Month when we as Americans are urged to “celebrate” adoption and advocate for adoption awareness.  November 20 is of particular importance because it is National Adoption Day and will be “celebrated” by thousands of adoptions being finalized in courtrooms across the nation.

Yipee.

Frankly, I don’t see how celebrating the dissolution of a family is ever a good thing. And do they really want me to advocate for adoption awareness? I can’t imagine the LDS Family Services, the LDS church, or the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) want me advocating for adoption awareness because my message is not one they will appreciate: Infant adoption as currently practiced in the U.S. is wrong. Period. It needs to be changed.

Laws need to be enacted to preserve and protect natural families when at all possible. I realize that it is not always possible to preserve a natural family as I know there will always be rare and special circumstances that necessitate infant adoption, but they are exactly that: RARE and SPECIAL. Laws need to be enacted to preserve an adoptee’s original identity. Falsified birth records need to be done away with entirely (thank you Georgia Tann for that little nugget, you evil monster of a person). Laws need to be enacted to preserve an adoptee’s access to their birth records – it is shocking and wrong that in this day and age, innocent victims of adoption are treated worse than convicted murderers (thank you again Georgia Tann for that little nugget, you evil monster of a person).

So this month, I am going to write you a letter every day, “celebrating” adoption in my own way and advocating for my version of adoption awareness. I think my first official act of National Adoption Month 2010 will be to write a letter to Microsoft, urging them to fix the stupid auto-spell feature that keeps telling me “adoptee” isn’t a word. Don’t you think adoptees have enough of an identity crisis without being marginalized by Microsoft every time they type anything about their life experience?

Much love and belief –

M.

Here We Go Again – ~ God Doesn’t Do Adoption, part 11,002,546,997

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

OK – so maybe that “part 11,002,546,997” is a bit of an overstatement, it’s really part 11,002,546,992.

This latest go round has to do with John Wyatt and his baby daughter “Emma.” You can read more about it here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700064115/Utah-Supreme-Court-hears-fight-over-Baby-Emma.html

Needless to say, this case is causing quite the stir in the adoption blogosphere and needless to say (again), the LDS folks sure are making it easy for others to hate on them.  Just check out the comments left by readers over at Deseret News.

At any rate, I was led to a blog entry about this case on a blog titled “Rarely Home Mom.” (Does that mean she is rarely home because she is working or does that mean she is rarely home because she is busy being a helicopter parent or does that mean she is rarely home, as in she lives in another country and is rarely not “home” in the US? I digress…)

After reading the post and the comments, I left one of my own in response to another reader. I am fairly certain it will not be posted by the moderator, so I will post it here.

One of her readers says:

September 10, 2010 2:18 pm

This is so much like that story of King Solomon in the Bible. Caring for children whose lives are tangled in the courts carrys a huge amount of heartache. Someone needs to be there for them though. What a hard thing. I agree, the father is just painting himself a jerk, not proving his fatherhood.

To which my reply was:

Jendoop –

Do you remember the rest of the story of King Solomon and the baby? Do you remember who that baby ended up with? Was it the prospective adoptive mother or his natural mother? King Solomon gave the child back to his mother – a SINGLE parent, BTW.

If you are advocating that the Supreme Court in UT do the same thing – give this child back to her natural family who wants to care and love for her, then I am all for it.

M.

P.S. Here are some of my posts regarding adoption reform from an LDS perspective that your readers might find interesting:

https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/arrrrrggggghhhh/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/is-you-is-or-is-you-aint-or-in-other-words-a-question-for-fred-riley-of-lds-family-services/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/god-doesnt-do-adoption-part-2/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/you-know-what-chaps-my-hide/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/another-head-scratcher/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/the-mormons-and-liberalprogressive-scientific-thought-maybe-not-so-different-after-all/

I truly don’t have any more mental energy right now to deal with this so I let my previous writings speak on my behalf. In the words of the unforgettable Prince Humperdinck: “Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.”

Much love and belief –

M.

___________________________________________________________________________

I just had to update the conversation over there on that blog. Of course Julie didn’t post my comment. Whatev.’ As a first mother in the LDS world, I am MORE than used to my voice being silenced, ignored, belittled, and marginalized. After all, I *deserve* what happened to me. At least that’s what most LDS people believe.

So here is Julie’s response to my post:

September 10, 2010 3:39 pm

Yes, it’s true that I have received comments to this post that I have not published (every first time commenter has to first be approved by me, then further posts are published at once). I am fine with people disagreeing with me (see posts by Katie above). But I won’t publish posts by people that have endless links sending readers of this original post to sites that are anti-adoption (one site says adoption is always wrong, in every situation!), anti-Mormon (nice, making my non-religious argument about my religion), and just plain ignorant.

Disagree with me, but don’t be a jerk.

Bottom line here: what needs to be decided is how the different state adoption laws will work together. This adoptive couple are not criminals – they followed the laws in at least one state. They are not kidnappers. I’m so tired of that argument. So, we can all agree that there needs to be action to prevent future disagreements like this.

It’s amazing to me that so many of you don’t agree that the best interests of this child can’t come first. Have mercy.

And here is mine:

Oh my, Julie. Anti Mormon??? Anti-adoption? Ignorant? Did you actually take the time to read those links?

Do I need to pull out my temple recommend or give you my Bishop’s phone number? Would you like to sit in on the Sunday School classes I teach? Would you like to see my tax returns that show how much we tithed last year and how much we donated in fast offerings (BTW, some of which goes to support LDSFS adoptions to help people such as yourself get children?), how much we donated to the mission fund and the humanitarian fund? Do you want to sit in on the Compassionate Service meetings I attend? Attend the ward activities I planned? The Enrichment classes I teach? Do you want to join me and my family at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning for scripture study and family prayer? Do you want to go with me when I do my Visiting Teaching this month? Perhaps you could join me on my morning 3 mile walk as I listen to the latest conference addresses on my mormonradio app. Do you want me to show you pictures of me singing with the the Mormon Youth Chorus at a solemn assembly when a new prophet was sustained? Would you like to join my efforts to “clothe the naked” and make infant care kits, knit hats, and sew dresses for children who have less? Do you want to join me as I go to a Sister’s house to teach her the basics of child care, home making skills, and budgeting because the Lord prompted me to do and then the RS president asked me to do it? Do you want me to parade you past the pictures at the Orem Institute of Religion that show me as part of the choir and part of the student leadership way back in the day? Should I send you pictures of my 1-year food storage? Do you want to make the 3.5 hours one-way trip with me to attend the temple? We could have a great chat on the way there, I am sure. I even know how to make funeral potatoes and green jello with shredded carrots in it!!! Even more, I kind of like them too. Would any of that convince you that I am NOT anti-Mormon?

What I am is a Mormon who is willing to turn over the rock of infant adoption and look at what might be underneath. Sometimes you find cool stuff, sometimes you don’t. I am a Mormon who is honestly seeking to reconcile the pure doctrine of Christ with her own experiences in the culture.

Anti-adoption? Perhaps, but *certainly* not the way you may assume. I am anti-the way *INFANT* adoption is currently practiced now (adoption through foster care is another thing entirely). You know, some of my dearest friends are adoptive mothers, just the variety that have the courage to look at this from every angle, even the ones that make them feel uncomfortable and queasy.

Please, as a fellow sister in Zion, I urge you to read some of those posts before you jump to conclusions about me as a person. Perhaps you will still come to the conclusion that I am ignorant and I am fine with that. But at least it will be an informed decision.

In the mean time, I will be praying for you that your heart will be softened and yes, I will continue to seek mercy. Mercy for the mothers who have lost children to adoption, mercy for the children who have lost their first families, and mercy for those who feel like it is their God given right to remove those children from their mothers. If there is one thing we ALL need, it is mercy from the Great Healer and Physician.

Much love,

M.

Utah Adoption Act (Utah Code Title 76B Chapter 6)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Church was canceled again yesterday because of the “big” snow storm (we got about 5″) and so I had some free time on my hands. Somehow, I ended up tracking down Utah’s “Adoption Act” and came across some interesting stuff.

“Utah Adoption Act” Title 78B-6-102.7

(7) The Legislature finds that an unmarried mother has a right of privacy with regard to her pregnancy and adoption plan, and therefore has no legal obligation to disclose the identity of an unmarried biological father prior to or during an adoption proceeding, and has no obligation to volunteer information to the court with respect to the father.

Say what??? In Utah, a woman has no legal obligation to tell who the father of her child is prior to placing that child for adoption???? What in the Sam Hill kind of law is that?  Now I know why the LDSFS worker told me that I could just “leave him out of it [the adoption]”, that  “he doesn’t really matter, ” and “involving him will just complicate things even more for your daughter and her new parents.”

I now know this was incredibly morally wrong. Regardless of if it is the law or not. It is wrong. And this is one of the things I wrestle with – why would a representative of the LDS church tell me to do something so completely amoral? Not just tell me to do it, but actively encourage me to do it and provide suggestions on how to get around telling him the truth.

78B-6-119. Counseling for parents.
(1) Subject to Subsection (2)(a), before relinquishing a child to a child-placing agency, or consenting to the adoption of a child, a parent of the child has the right to participate in counseling:
(a) by a licensed counselor or an adoption service provider selected by the parent participating in the counseling;
(b) for up to three sessions of at least 50 minutes per session; and
(c) subject to Subsection (2)(b), at the expense of the:
(i) child-placing agency; or
(ii) prospective adoptive parents.

Wow. Geez. Three whole 50-minute counseling sessions in return for my daughter?  I need to make a T-shirt up for this one. “I gave another family the greatest “gift” of all – my daughter – and all I got was three lousy counseling sessions.”

Three sessions.  That’s a hundred and fifty minutes.  In exchange for a lifetime of grief.

Here’s the kicker – in your adoption, I was never told I was legally entitled to even this “generous” amount. I never received my three free counseling sessions, courtesy of…well, of anyone.  I did eventually find my own way to a counselor. I am very grateful to have found such a wonderful therapist – I am just sad we moved 2200 miles away from him.  I could really use a chit-chat session with him about now. But  I never got my three free sessions.  Do you think 17 1/2 years later is to late to demand them?

78B-6-123. Power of a minor to consent or relinquish.
(1) A minor parent has the power to:
(a) consent to the adoption of the minor’s child; and
(b) relinquish the minor’s control or custody of the child for adoption.
(2) The consent or relinquishment described in Subsection (1) is valid and has the same force and effect as a consent or relinquishment executed by an adult parent.
(3) A minor parent, having executed a consent or relinquishment, cannot revoke that consent upon reaching the age of majority or otherwise becoming emancipated.

So…a minor can’t buy cigarettes. Can’t buy alcohol. Can’t open a credit card or get a loan without a co-signer.  Can’t get married without parental consent (and a juvenile judge’s consent if she is 15 or under). Can’t get birth control pills without parental consent. If she is under 16 can’t drive a car. If she is under 13,  can’t even open an online email or social networking account without parental consent.

BUT, she can relinquish another minor child (hers) to adoption.Without parental consent. Or telling the father.

That is really screwed up.

78B-6-125. Time period prior to birth mother’s consent.
(1) A birth mother may not consent to the adoption of her child or relinquish control or custody of her child until at least 24 hours after the birth of her child.

Wow.  A whole 24 whole hours?  Geeze. That’s really nice of them.

How many of us who have had children were at the tip-top of our mental and emotional game a mere 24 hours after having a child? I know I am not. At that point, I am still trying to deal with the uterine cramping, the bleeding, the surging hormones as my milk comes in and my body adjusts to not being pregnant, my raw & swollen girlie bits. I am exhausted  – not just from the delivery, but the last excruciatingly sleepless weeks of my pregnancy,  the every 4-hour checks by the nurses, and the visits from the family. And that’s after a natural, normal, short delivery without any residual effects of pain meds either.

24 hours after delivery is not the time to be having relinquishment papers shoved under a vulnerable mother’s nose. GoodfreakinFriday, even those “evil  capitalist” insurance companies allow a woman 48 hours in the hospital before she has to leave after having a child.

And here are some more of my more favorite parts:


78B-6-126.
When consent or relinquishment effective.
A consent or relinquishment is effective when it is signed and may not be revoked.

78A-6-514. Voluntary relinquishment — Irrevocable.
(4) A voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination of parental rights is effective when it is signed and may not be revoked.

No ifs, ands, or buts. No waiting period. No “can I have a week to think this over?” No nothing. So once that order to relinquish is signed in the hospital 24 hours after giving birth, the mother has no legal recourse to revoke her consent.

No wonder LDSFS encourages so many single mothers to deliver in UT.  They don’t have to tell the father. They don’t have to get parental consent. There is only a 24 hour waiting period after birth before the mother can relinquish. And then once those papers are signed, the mother has no legal recourse.

It was an enlightening way to spend my Sunday afternoon to say the least. Understanding the laws a bit more in UT helps me understand my experience a bit more as well.

Much love,

M.

Clearing up some misconceptions

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Normally these letters are all directed towards you, but I could not let some comments on another adoption blog pass by without being corrected.  I decided to do it here instead of there because I wanted to be able to provide links to resources, etc. The stuff in bold, that is what L. wrote in the comments on the other blog. The stuff in the regular font is my response – I am still trying to beef up the references sections for each of my responses so be patient with me please.

Sincerely,

Your Mother Who Seems to Have Opened a Can She Didn’t Know Was Full of Worms

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Dear L., –

I appreciate your efforts to elucidate others about LDS adoption practices and the comments over at Birth Mother, First Mother Forums.  I think it is a good beginning point to open a dialogue about the inner-workings of the beast the LDS adoption culture. In an effort to clear up some misconceptions about current LDS adoption practices and policies, I am attempting to address some of your points from the First Mother forum.

I should start off by saying that I am and have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my entire 37 1/2 years.  I am currently active, attend weekly services, pay a full tithe, hold a temple recommend, and serve in various positions in my ward.  I do not list those things as a braggart, but to explain my qualifications in addressing some of the issues brought up in the comments on the other blog. I am an insider who is currently attempting to live the precepts of the LDS faith while reconciling my adoption experience with the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I consider myself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, I don’t consider myself to be a typical “Mormon” by any means because I tend to question with boldness the very existence of God.

Also, I very very very rarely ever enter into a public discussion about the doctrinal points of one religion or another. As my dear friend from Alabama always says, “That dog don’t hunt.”  I just don’t like to argue with perfect strangers about things, religious or otherwise. I’m a lover, not a fighter as the saying goes.  I am genuinely interested in all people’s religious experiences and truly believe that each person’s perspective only serves to enrich and clarify my own beliefs. I am one of those “crazies” who seeks truth wherever truth can be found and claim it as my own.

With all that being said, I hope some of my responses as an active LDS person can help clear up some misconceptions.

Ladies, Since I was raised LDS I can see parts that only an insider sees. First, the Mormon church does not advocate adoption, unless the father or mother is not mormon.

The LDS church absolutely promotes and advocates for adoption regardless of the church membership of either parent.  You can find more information here (Actually, probably way more info than you really want…): https://itsaboutlove.org . If a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock and she and the father do not get married, adoption is seen as the only acceptable alternative.

“When a child is conceived out of wedlock, the best option is for the mother and father of the child to marry… If a successful marriage is unlikely, they should place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS Family Services… It ensures that the child will be sealed to a mother and a father in the temple…” (www.lds.org)

She is encouraged to relinquish her child through LDS Family Services as their screening process ensures that only temple-worthy married couples can adopt through that agency. A woman does not have to be LDS to place with LDS Family Services. However, to adopt through LDS Family Services, a couple must be active in the LDS church and hold current temple recommends. (Once again, you can consult https://itsaboutlove.org for more information on both natural parents and requirements for potential adoptive parents.)

That way the child can be adopted by a “good mormon family” and be sealed to the church upon their 11th year.

Adopted children are not sealed to the “church.” They are sealed to their adopted parents. At no time is anyone “sealed to the ‘church’.” Any sealings are between husband and wife or parents and child(ren).  If parents have been sealed in the temple prior to the birth of their natural child, then that child is “born under the covenant” and is considered sealed to them with no further ordinance needing to take place.

And I am not sure where the “11th year” thing comes from. All adopted children are eligible to be sealed to their adoptive parents upon finalization of adoption papers, regardless of the child’s age –11 days, 11 months, or 11 years (reference forthcoming).

Second, if the mother and father are both mormon, the church will force a marriage if at all possible.

Force is a mighty strong word.  Encourage or suggest, but definitely not force.

“When a child is conceived out of wedlock, the best option is for the mother and father of the child to marry and work toward establishing an eternal family relationship.” (www.lds.org; Gospel Library; Gospel Topics: Adoption)

Also:

Third, mormons truly believe that the male is the only line to god – therefore to reach god, women and children not of the age of maturity (under 11 years) have to reach heaven through their earthly father/husband. Then, and only then, can the people of the church become gods and goddess’s, for they are then accepted into gods house.

???? Not even sure how to refute this because I don’t even understand where this erroneous belief originates.  Members of the LDS church do not “truly believe that the male is the only line to God.”   My husband came home for lunch and was reading this over my shoulder and he got a good chuckle out of this comment. We both did.

Within LDS theology, my personal salvation as a woman and my ability to be “accepted into Gods house” are not dependent on my husband.  My ability to “reach heaven” is dependent only my own faithfulness and my acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (references forthcoming).  Same goes for my children. Their salvation is between them and God and is not dependent on their father.  And that 11 years old as being the “age of maturity” thing again – where does that come from? I am wondering if you are confusing the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (AKA the “Mormons”) with polygamist groups/ splinter sects that live in AZ and TX.

All the crap they do to ensure the child stays within the church, that is all about the procreation requirement for families. Currently families are not required to have as many children as humanly possible and a few have only a few. But the average family can have up to 20+ children.

“Procreation requirement”????  I have never in my entire 37 years in the LDS church ever heard of a “procreation requirement.” Do you happen to have documentation from official LDS sources that state as much because I would be very interested in exploring it further.

Also, the contention that the “average” LDS family has up to 20+ children has no basis in empirical data.  In fact, current studies show that most LDS families have only one child more than that national average. This means the average LDS family has 3.13 children (though no one can have .13 of a child so most have three kids, some have four).

Additionally, here is current advice given to church members regarding family planning:

“Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity. When husband and wife are physically able, they have the privilege and responsibility to bring children into the world and to nurture them. The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife.” (www.lds.org; Gospel Library: Gospel Topics: Birth Control)

Also:

“Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.  Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple.” (www.lds.org; Gospel Library: Gospel Topics: Birth Control)

Interestingly enough, the LDS church is not 100% anti-abortion either.

“Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth….Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.” (www.lds.org; Gospel Library: Gospel Topics: Abortion)

If these children remain in the church (surprisingly – not – many do not) the chance of the parents, specifically the father, will become as god, or a god.

In the LDS church, we believe that men and women will be held accountable for their own choices. A parent’s personal salvation has absolutely nothing to do with a child’s choices in life and whether he or she remains active or not or not in the LDS church (references forthcoming). (Ask Marie Osmond about this or Chelsea Handler’s parents, or Amy Adam’s parents).

For adoption purposes, the child that is pulled back into the church, or just into the church, there is the added bonus of having a member of the church that is unlikely to want to find their parents – I know a lot of them.

I don’t necessarily think that anyone views this as a “bonus,” though it is fairly typical.  It is true that adopted persons are discouraged from seeking contact with their natural families. Here is the current policy regarding this:

Adopted Children and Their Natural Parents (p. 173)

Local Church leaders should discourage adopted children and their adoptive parents from seeking to identify the children’s natural parents.  When adopted children have genetic or medical problems, the family may seek medical information about the natural parents but should be discouraged from seeking their identities.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (2006). Church Handbook of Instructions: Book 1 Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics 2006.  Salt Lake City: UT.)

LDS Family Services is currently selling something very different with their stance on “open” adoptions and this is one of my major beefs with them.  Either they are completely out of line with official church policy or the official church policy needs to be changed to match up with the product LDS Family Services is pushing.

A man I knew long ago was an adopted child. His adoptive, mormon, parents told him that his family just had too many children and they gave him to them because one more was just too many. However, the facts were even more simple. They had no male children. Therefore, adopting a male child from a family (because they can and do force poor families to give up children, either to adoption as infants or wives as teens) that was LDS in the first place made it highly unlikely that the child would want to look or that the parents would allow themselves to be found.

I really, really, really think there may be some confusion between the main-stream LDS church (headquartered out of Salt Lake City UT) and some other group, such as the splinter polygamist groups especially because of the statement “they can and do force poor families to give up children…(for) wives as teens.”  I have been a member  of the LDS church for 37+ years and lived in Utah for the majority of those years and have never known of a teenage girl being forced into or “given” in marriage because her parents were poor. (Or for any other reason!)  I have heard of it happening in polygamist splinter groups but they are not part of the mainstream LDS church.

The issue of infant adoption is almost always when a mother is unwed and unwilling/unable to marry the father. I have never heard of a married LDS mother placing a child for adoption simply because she was poor.  The LDS church has a large and well-functioning welfare system set in place to help any church family through difficult financial times (please see http://www.providentliving.org/ for more information.)

It seems I have spent half my day typing up my response and now my boys need dinner.  I am new at this whole speaking up about my adoption experience thing and still very tender in my efforts to reach out to others. I hope my addressing these comments directly do not offend – I am only trying to set the record straight about current LDS adoption practices (even though I think a most of them stink like the package of chicken breasts my mother-in-law left in her trunk for a week during the summer a few years ago. No…they stink worse than that too.)

Much love and belief –

M.

Have you considered…?

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I was over at the LDS Family Services website a few months ago, trying to see if they had any information/support/services available for post-relinquishment mothers such as myself. While I didn’t find what I was hoping to find, I did find this list of questions. It is intended as a tool to help single mothers who are considering parenting their child think through a wide range of things.  As I read through the list, I started laughing. I actually had to call my mom because I thought it was so funny.

And this is why I found it so hilarious: Why is it perfectly fine for LDS Family Services to ask a woman who is single and considering parenting these kinds of questions but not all those fresh-out of high school, newly married (in the temple, of course), stars-in-their eyes women these same questions? Aren’t they valid questions for any person considering to be a parent? And if they are, where are these questions found on the LDS Family Services website for married women who might be considering parenting? Oh that’s right…they don’t have one of those.

And come on, let’s be honest. What woman between the ages of 18-25 has the financial stability to be a parent, unless she is a trust fund baby herself?  If she is anything like the typical married LDS woman at that age, her husband is still in school (dental or law, of course) and she is most likely working to support him. And what 18-25 year old woman is aware of community resources that could help her unless someone has told her? And how many struggling newlyweds have already started a college fund for their children, especially when they are most likely still in school themselves?  I could go on and on this morning, but I will save that for another post.

I guess what makes me roll my eyes and giggle the most is that both my mother and my mother-in-law would have answered the questions pretty much the same way I did at 19, married or not (just an FYI, they were both married  by the time they were 19 AND had a baby).  In fact, I bet my friends who were married when they were 18/19/20 (and trust me, there are pleeeeeennnnntttttyyy of girls like that in the LDS community) would answer the questions pretty much the same way I would have at that same age. Why they weren’t told to place their babies for adoption because they didn’t know the basics of child development, or have plans, budgets, college savings for their future children, and resources of every kind, I will never know.

So enjoy, Ms. Feverfew, and savor the delicious irony of it all.

Much love,

M.

Have you considered

  • Do you have a strong desire to be a mother right now?
  • Do you have information on all of your options and have you taken time to carefully consider each of them?
  • Do you have realistic expectations about what it would be like to be a single parent?  Would you be the sole caregiver of the baby or would your parents, the father, or other caregivers be involved or even take over?
  • What are your plans for the future? How will raising a child affect those plans?  How will a baby affect your likelihood of going to school or getting a good job?
  • Do you have the financial stability to be a parent?  Have you prepared a budget outlining expenses you should expect in raising a child?  Will your baby have access to regular medical care?
  • Are you prepared to ask others for help?
  • Do you live in a home where you could care for a newborn?  Is it an emotionally and physically safe place for a child?
  • Do you think that the home you provide will be the best one for your baby?
  • Do you know about the basics of child development? Nutrition? Discipline?
  • Are you aware of community resources or programs that could help you?
  • How much time will you be spending at work or at school?  How much spare time would you have?
  • Who would your support system be if you decide to parent? Would that help and support be steady over the next 18 years?
  • What is your relationship with the father?  How involved would he be?  How prepared is he to be a father?  How involved would you like him to be?  Are your expectations for his help realistic given your current situation?  If the father is not involved, are there men in your life that could be a consistent male role model?
  • How would you maintain friendships?
  • Do you plan to get married someday? How will having a child affect those plans?
  • Would you date?  What will your social life be like?  How would you determine when to tell those you date that you have a child?
  • Who would take care of your baby when you are away?
  • How do you plan to discipline your child?
  • Are there a friends or family members you can talk with about their experience as a single parent?
  • Are you ready to put a child’s needs before your own throughout his or her life?
  • Will you be able to save for your child’s future education?
  • Do you effectively manage feelings of anger and frustration? Can you control your emotions so that you don’t take them out on others?
  • Would counseling help you better understand the realities of being a single parent?
  • The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely it is that you will make a solid decision about what is best for you and your baby.

God doesn’t do adoption ~ He is into being born again

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

If I hear one. more. stinkin. time. of how adoption is a part of God’s plan for His children because it is how we become the children of Christ, I think my head is going to pop off and spin around while flames start shooting out of my eyes. Especially from Mormons who claim to have the further light and knowledge of the fullness of the restored gospel.

I recently shared my feelings about the LDS Family Services flimsy excuse for why adoption is a natural thing because  we are all “literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom”  with my mom. Her response was something along the lines of, “Well, you are right about that but we are all adopted by Christ as his children when we accept him as our Savior.” This is the same sentiment that  I have read on Christian adoption blogs of many kinds as an explanation why adoption is good, kind, benevolent, Christlike.

Uh…once again, maybe I missed that lesson in Sunday School.  From the distant memories of high school choir, the words from an African American spiritual come bubbling up:

Nicodemus was a man who desired to know how a man could be born when he is old. Christ told Nicodemus as a friend, “Man, you must be born again!” He said, “Marvel not man, if you want to be wise. Repent believe and be baptized.”

(Witness, Arranged by Jack Halloran)

Those words set me to thinking…man, you must be born again.  Christ told Nicodemus that to become His child, he had to be born again (see John 3:3, 7) . Not adopted. But born again. Now I don’t know about you, but I think there is a physiological difference between being adopted and being born.  Maybe I am over thinking things here, but I can’t seem to find anywhere in the scriptures where Christ talks about being adopted as one of His children – the metaphor is always becoming His child.

To the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul describes  the process of becoming a follower of Christ as thus: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (2 Cor. 5:17). Indeed, one of the primary messages of the Book of Mormon is that we can become the sons and daughters of Jesus Christ by being born again.

Mosiah 5:7 : And, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have come his sons and his daughters.

Mosiah 27: 25-26 : And the Lord said until me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures

Alma 5: 14 Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

Alma 7: 14 : Now I say unto you that ye must repent and be born again… therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

In the Doctrine & Covenants we find this:

D&C 5:16 : And behold, whosever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit, and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit–

And perhaps the most direct scriptural discussion of what this process means can be found in Moses 6:59.

“…inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; “

Also, the topic of being “born again” appears 3725 times in the LDS Gospel Library as of today with authors ranging from current apostles and prophets as well as ancient ones, from  Sunday School lessons to articles in The Friend.  Seriously – go take a look at the titles of some of these talks and lessons. Obviously the concept of being “born again” as a requirement to become a son or daughter of Christ is not an unfamiliar one to the LDS people.

The symbolism used in both scripture and modern apostolic writings is one of literally being born – becoming a new creature in Christ, having a new countenance – it is not a metaphor of adoption. If I was merely adopted as a daughter of Christ, I would remain the same person I was before the adoption occurred just with a new name (and a falsified birth certificate). However, according to the doctrine I can find, I am literally remade through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I don’t even begin to claim to understand the actual process of how this occurs – perhaps this is why Christ cautioned Nicodemus to “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).  All I know is that when a person accepts Jesus Christ and enters into the waters of baptism, they are, as Paul said, made a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17).  Just as I was physically born of water (amniotic fluid), blood (my mother’s and my own, co-mingled in the birthing process), and of the spirit (when the breath of life entered my body), so am I born again in Christ. This time it is through the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit, and the atoning blood of Christ. Marvel not.

And this brings me back to my original grievance: There is no scriptural basis for using the process of becoming a follower of Christ to justify the unholy practice of infant adoption. To say otherwise is wrong. Period. Especially with the further light and knowledge that we claim to possess as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Our scriptures and modern-day prophets clearly proclaim that we are not adopted into Christ’s family, but that through baptism and the Atonement, we are born into it and we become his literal children.

That’s all I have to say about that. For now.

Much love and belief –

M.

God Doesn’t Do Adoption: “Is you is or is you ain’t?” (Or in other words: A question for Fred Riley of LDS Family Services)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

So, in an effort to help me understand, clarify, and hopefully reconcile my feelings as an LDS mother seeking spiritual harmony in a post-adoption kool-aid life, I came across an article recently in the Ensign.  Really, I am trying to be a good Mormon, I honestly am. I am trying to study this thing out on my own and to take my concerns to the Lord in prayer. However, in my efforts to sincerely seek peace, I keep getting smacked upside the head by articles like this one. In a section titled “Latter-day Saint Theology and Adoption” found in the article “Why Adoption?” (Ensign, Jan 2008), Fred Riley of LDS Family Services is quoted as saying,

“From the time of Adam, adoption has been a priesthood ordinance,” says Brother Riley. “It’s a principle of the gospel that probably all of us will experience at some point as we’re literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.”

Uh…am I the only one who sees a fundamental flaw in this statement?   Doesn’t this idea fly in the face of some of the most clearly dileneated LDS doctrine?

Is it just me Ms. Feverfew, or are we not taught from the time we are small children that we are the literal off-spring of God, created in His image – not adopted into his household? Remember that Primary Song, I Am a Child of God? It clearly states the doctrinal point on this issue : “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here…” Or how about the Young Women theme which says, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us…” According to the LDS.org website, this theme “helps each young woman understand her identity, purpose, and destiny as a daughter of God”  (emphasis mine). Not the adopted daughter, but the literal daughter of the King of Heaven.

Or what of Joseph B. Wirthlin’s statement, “It is essential that you know and understand that our Heavenly Father loves you like a son or daughter, because He is the Father of your spirit. That makes you His literal child, spiritually begotten of Him.”

Or the article titled “You Are a Child of God” in which Russel M. Nelson reminds us of the importance of “knowing that we are literally children of God.”

Or what of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson who also reminds us  “that each of us is literally a child of God.”

Then there is “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” which states with undeniable clarity, “Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

I could go on and on with the quotes, but I won’t bore you to death. I think you get the idea.  (A simple search of the LDS Gospel Library using terms such as “literal child of God” or  “made in His image” will reveal hundreds of more of these kinds of quotes if you really want to knock yourself out).

But here are the things I have come to know in the past several years, Ms. Feverfew: I have a Father in Heaven who is crazy gaga head over heels in love with me simply because I am His daughter, created in His image. I am the literal daughter of The King.  With this knowledge firmly in place, I am left the nagging question for Brother Riley: Which is it – is you is or is you ain’t a literal child of God? You can’t have it both ways – you can’t be adopted and be a literal child of God.

Much love,

M.

P.S. I guess I have more questions for Brother Riley, such as where is it taught (either in scripture or official church publications) that adoption is a “priesthood ordinance“? Did I miss something somewhere in my study of the scriptures or in my temple worship?  Maybe I wasn’t listening carefully enough in Relief Society or missed the memo while I was busy serving in Primary (you know how that can be – we tend to miss a lot of announcements while we serve the children in the church, teaching them that they are the literal children of God).  Or maybe perhaps this is something they teach in priesthood quorums and forgot to mention to us women folk? I say those things mostly tongue-in-cheek, but really, I am perplexed. Where is the scriptural and doctrinal basis for that kind of statement? But I digress…