The Doctrine of Transferability & LDS Adoption Policy

The Doctrine of Transferability states:

“When a man and a woman are married in the temple for time and all eternity and then separate, the children will go with the parent who is justified and who has kept the covenants. If neither of them has kept his covenants, the children may be taken away from both of them and given to somebody else and that would be by virtue of being born under the covenant. A child is not to be sealed the second time when born under the covenant, but by virtue of that birthright can be transferred. (Questions Frequently Asked About the Temple and the Endowment. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, 10).

Let me see if I have this straight: In a Mormon afterlife, children can be taken away from less righteous parents and given to more righteous ones by virtue of the sealing ordinance. Children can thereby be transferred from one family to another, never taking into consideration what the child may want. It’s all about the more righteous parents being “justified.”

Sounds an awful lot like LDS adoption policy to me.

Should anyone be wondering why LDS first mothers are such a hot mess most of the time, this is a perfect example of why. This is what we were taught from the time we were small enough to sit on our mother’s laps. That if we aren’t perfect, we deserve to loose our children. Not only do we deserve it, but we should expect it, too.

LDS first mothers have been taught since our youngest days that if any parent isn’t righteous enough, he or she will have their children taken from them in the next life and transferred to someone else, some more “qualified” and “worthy” couple. The pattern has already been set in our doctrine – we are mere players on a stage at this point. Parents that are “unrighteous” in this life lose their children and the more righteous (and infertile) ones feel perfectly justified in facilitating the transfer of those children into their family. After all, it is a pattern God has set forth for the eternities. Why not help Him along right now?

Does This Part Get Easier?

Someone stop me. Now.

I am doing it again.

I am buying way too many gifts for Poppy, just like I have done every year at Christmas time since she was born.  Last Christmas was the first time I was truly cognizant of it, but really did not quite grasp why I was doing it. I just know I *totally* blew the budget.

This year I have figured out why I do this and it is alum to my soul.

It is over-compensation, plain and simple, driven by the subconscious need  to make up for all the Christmases I did not have with Ms. Feverfew.

I wish someone had told me 22 years ago that not only would I lose my oldest daughter to adoption, but I would lose the ability to fully enjoy another holiday season to adoption, too, that it would steal precious moments with my other children from me like a thief. I wish someone had told me that the losses would compound and grow as the years unfolded. I wish Bishop Felix or someone who knew would have told me this gets harder, not easier, as the years go by. My ability to withstand the grief has grown, too, but some days. . . some days like today when I was standing in the girl’s clothing section at Kohls with Poppy at my side ooohing and aaahing over the sparkly Hello Kitty purses, it hits me and my heart tightens and it’s hard to breathe.

I will never get the chance to stand next to a 4-year old Ms. Feverfew in Kohls as she delights in the purse selection and talks me in to buying one for her.

It is never more obvious Ms. Feverfew is missing from our family than when we are together on Christmas morning as Matthew, Luke, and Poppy dig into their stockings. Always, always, always, there is the unspoken Truth that lingers in the air between my boys and me. Their oldest sister is not there. I can see it in the flicker of their eyes when we are talking about extended family members who are enjoying Christmas morning, too. It’s a look between them, a feint of the eyes towards me, and slight shake of the head that Matthew gives to Luke, almost as if to tell him, “Not now, little brother. This isn’t the time to ask Mom about Ms. Feverfew.”

Actually, that is not the entire truth of the matter.

It is obvious she is missing every time we sit down to eat dinner together. We have a table that seats six. There is always an empty seat. Our vehicle seats six. There is always an empty seat.

It is that empty seat driving my behavior towards Poppy when it comes to gift buying.
My question is now that I am conscious of how I am overcompensating, what do I do to stop myself? I’m trying to be more mindful of my actions and working very hard to be present in the here and now, not the what-could-have-been ghost of years gone by, but it is a tenuous walk right now. Someone please tell me this gets easier as time goes on, that it gets easier to raise my sweet Poppy, that eventually the ghost of her lost-to-adoption-sister will stop shadowing the joy I have with this amazing creature who came into my life four years ago.

Does this part of adoption get easier?

“Recruite” a New Birthmother and Earn $500!

GiftCardOffer

This is an actual postcard sent to an actual mother* of adoption loss by an actual adoption agency in Utah, A Guardian Angel Adoptions.

And yes, you read it right.

The mother of adoption loss can get a $500 gift card for convincing an expectant mother to voluntarily terminate her parental rights and give her child to some couple far more “deserving”/”worthy”/”capable”/educated/well-monied/married than she is at the moment.

One of the common tactics used to keep mothers of adoption loss “in line” is to have them go around to various groups “sharing the miracle of adoption.” This agency is upping the ante by attaching a dollar value to the “recruits” a mother of adoption loss brings to them.  What is the logical conclusion of this set-up? Mothers of adoption loss preaching the “miracle” of adoption to turn a profit.

Niiiiiiiiice. </sarc>

Now, each one of these expectant moms who falls in the adoption industry’s web will be, very literally, a cash cow for not only the adoption agency, but also for the mother of adoption loss who recruits her to join the ranks of the childless mothers.

So.

Not.

Cool.

All together now, can we say: Conflict of interest?

And really, why am I not AT ALL surprised an adoption agency in Utah is doing this?

*Used with her permission.

Out of The Mouth of 10-Year Olds

I was taking Luke, my newly minted 10-year old, to the doctor this morning.  He was in the back seat chattering away about a new book series he has started reading. The main characters find out they are adopted and set off on a quest to find their “real parents.”

My heart skipped a few beats when he said, “I can’t even image what it would be like to be adopted, to grow up not knowing you and Matthew and Poppy and Dad. That would be (he paused for several moments) – that would be such a tragedy to never know you guys and to have to grow up with someone else, without my real family.  I mean, the other family might be nice and all, but they wouldn’t be you and that would be terrible because you are the best mom a boy like me could ever want. I don’t even want to think about it. (Another long pause). I would be so sad to not know Poppy but I wouldn’t know why I was sad because I wouldn’t know about her – there would just be someone missing and I would hurt and I wouldn’t know why.”

I agreed – it would be a great tragedy to not have him in our family. I didn’t need to remind him of his older sister, the one who shares the same Ghiradelli chocolate brown eyes as his. She’s never far from his thoughts.

We both fell silent. I knew exactly what he was thinking because it is a question he has asked me many times before. How can I miss my sister when I don’t even know her?

I don’t know why, but it is always on birthdays I am reminded in stark detail of the price adoption has extracted from my family. Luke is perhaps the smartest of all my children. Don’t get me wrong, Matthew and Poppy are wicked brilliant, but Luke is in a class all of his own.  And I think because of this intelligence, he is much more aware of what is missing. To his creative and never-still mind, my lost daughter is more than just a ghost but are very real and very much alive sister.  He is keenly aware of her absence in our home, around our dinner table, and in his life.  He longs for her. He pines to know her.

But adoption. It always comes back to adoption.

A few months ago, he said he would wait until he was 62 if that’s how long it took to finally meet his sister. I pray to God (if there be a God) he doesn’t have to wait that long.

Searching for a New Home

As I mentioned in my previous post, these letters to my lost daughter have served their purpose and run their course. There’s not much left for me to say to her and what needs to be said (like how I met her father and the real reason we didn’t end up together), will be written in private and protected posts to which only she and I will have access.

On the other side of the river of grief I find there is still so very much I want and need to say about adoption, though, but I have come to realize this is not the space in which to do so. As such, I am searching for a new home for my pontifications and ponderings about adoption, LDS-style. My primary focus of my new blog is going to be family preservation advocacy and pathways to healing for first moms and families, generally (though not always) within the framework of the LDS culture and theology. I want to include research article reviews and summaries, book reviews, and insights I have gained over the past two decades. I’m trying to come up with a clever blog name but am having a bear of a time even coming up with a blog name, period.

I would like to get back to sharing what I am writing, but haven’t found a new home for it yet. Any suggestions?

For Now, That’s Enough

Turns out a brush with death alters a person’s viewpoint on a lot of things.  I know it has had that affect on me.

Stuff that once seemed really hard now seems. . . .well, less hard. Don’t get me wrong, it still sucks, but it doesn’t suck nearly as much as waking up in the ICU after surgery that was supposed to be an out-patient procedure, a transfusion of blood slowly bringing you back to life.  It still hurts, but not nearly as much as someone thumping on your chest to wake you up after you collapse in the hospital bathroom a few days post-op.

Perhaps that is why I don’t write as much in this space.  This adoption stuff still hurts. It still sucks. I suspect it always will to one degree or another until I take my last breath. But perhaps the letters to my daughter have served their purpose and have run their course, just like the transfusions I received while at UCLA in May 2013. I am alive. I survived the worst thing a woman could experience and tonight, that’s enough.

Perhaps there simply isn’t anything left to say to my lost daughter at this point other than this: I am sorry. I love you. I am here for you when and if you ever change your mind.

And for now, that’s enough.

Are you Thirsty? (Originally Posted Feb 2011)

Dear Ms. Feverfew -

“Children thirst to hear where they came from…
they need to know that they were desired,
that their birth was a wonder, and they were always
the object of love and care.”

~ Marcelle Clements

The boys never tire of hearing about the day they were born, how I labored them into this world. They love to hear of when they were still slippery and wet against my bare skin and we gazed deeply into each others eyes for the first time.

Captain Knuckle joins us earth-side

Captain Knuckle full on smiled at me – yes, a real smile that spoke of recognition and joy at seeing each other again. I don’t care what the experts say, this mother’s heart knows that was his first real smile and it was glorious.  And then I cried because my heart was so full of love for this tiny creature. (That’s us above – Captain Knuckle came so quickly the doctor didn’t even have time to put gloves on! What the picture doesn’t capture is me sobbing over and over and over, “It’s my baby, it’s my baby – no one can take him from me!”)

The Professor is born

When the Professor was born, it was about 25 minutes from the first contraction to when he was placed in my arms. When he landed safely in my arms, he looked up at me with a wide eyed gaze as if to say, “Hi there. I love you. Can you please explain what just happened to me?”  And I cried because my heart was so full of love for this tiny creature.

Princess P with mama on the delivery table

When the doctor (the one with the hands of a surgeon but the heart of a midwife) passed Princess P. across the surgical drape nine months and one day ago, she was placed on my bare skin just like all of her siblings. I couldn’t look directly into her eyes because I was on the surgical table, but I wrapped my arms around her as the nurse snapped my gown back together with Princess P. tucked inside and covered us with warm blankets.  I inhaled deeply and breathed in that heavenly scent of peace and wonder that new babies bring with them. She was so calm, so warm – perfect, just like you. We lay there together for the entire time it took to close the incision, our hearts beating against each other. And I cried because my heart was so full of love for this tiny creature.

Every child’s birth was a wonder, a miraculous dance of the oldest kind. Each of you has always been the constant object of my love and care. This mother-love is what innervates my cells and motivates so many of my decisions. I hope that someday you will want to know your story so you can understand you were not just adopted but you were born.

Someday, I hope to have the honor of  telling you of your journey into this world and that yes, you were labored over, bled for, cried for, and above all else – loved.

Much love,

M.

The Fall

The Fall

 Oh she bared her soul alright; it fell from a star cloud
Reigned by Canis Major. They knew it was authentic,
It whimpered like an unknown set loose inside a crowd
Of urban predators: fierce curs and savage sceptics
That roamed in packs. A few select gave shelter in
The telling, clad the naked soul in their protection,
Made suspect bargains to house her in a harlequin
that masked and silenced looked like her, even wore her skin.
But being undressed is like an honest thought, it cannot
Lie with dogs; it is the thing in itself, nothing more.
The truth is beastly but does not wag the tale. No, that
Is the subplot tellers invent when they call her whore.
And though her flesh is marked by canines, they strain to blame
Her first fall; judging original sin her true shame.

The Fall is © Eleanor Hooker

____________________________________________________________

Yes, the truth is beastly, made even more so when one tells the truth and then is subsequently marginalized and disenfranchised simply for telling the truth.

 

 

 

Love is Banishment

What goes by the name of love is banishment,
with now and then a postcard from the homeland.
– Samuel Beckett, First Love

I came across this Beckett quote in my reading earlier this week. I immediately thought of all my friends who are adult adoptees, the ones who have taught me what is feels like to live a life different than the one they were born into, a life manufactured by social workers, bishops, adoption brokers, grandparents, and most painful of all, their own mothers – regardless of how well intentioned she was or how much her choice was motivated by love. These adult adoptees are the ones who, with patience and honesty, have taught me the deep pain of growing up banished to a strange and foreign land, even if they came to love their adopted homeland and its inhabitants with a profound love.

Beckett’s words sting this mother’s heart. They re-open wounds I have come to accept will never fully heal.

It is true, I banished my daughter from her homeland in the name of love. I fell prey to the LDS church’s carefully crafted and well-planned “Adoption: It’s About Love” campaign. You know, the one created by Steve Sunday (currently on the Board of Directors for the National Council For Adoption) in partnership with Bonneville International and their copyrighted “HeartSell”® advertising techniques.

Trusting, believing, and naive, I was led like a lamb to the slaughter with my daughter in my arms. And then, in the name of love, I sacrificed my own mother-heart when I placed my firstborn child on the altar of adoption, LDS-style.  Twenty-two years later, I am still asking where was our ram in the thicket? Where was our delivering angel? Why weren’t we worth saving?

To some, it doesn’t matter my motivation or what extreme social and psychological pressures I was under at the time to “do the right thing.”  To some, all that matters is I had “free agency” to make my own choices, to which I ask, “Did I *really* have “free agency,” considering what I had been taught growing up and the social and religious coercion that was in play at that moment in time? Did I really have “free agency” when HeartSell techniques were being used to influence my thoughts and actions? Can “free agency” even exist in such a religiously manipulative and coercive environment? Can “free agency” *really* even exist within the patriarchal power differential that exists between a LDS bishop (who happens to also be a social worker well-versed in the NCFA “good mother/birth mother” rhetoric) and a young unwed 20-year old mother?”

But none of that seems to matter to some. The fact (the truth) remains: Regardless of my motivation or the reasons, I banished my daughter to the land of the adopted ones. Consequently, I am a persona non gratis into the eternities, at least according to LDS church doctrine.  My heart tells me differently, common sense tells me differently, but the religion of my youth tells me she is lost to my family for the eternities, because of a “loving” God and the sealing ordinance.

Love is banishment, with now and then a postcard from the homeland.