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.

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34 thoughts on “God doesn’t do adoption ~ He is into being born again

  1. I am so very happy you found your way to my blog- And no you are not the only one there are many LDS moms- most of the ones I know have left the church though.

    I love this post- because you so clearly lay out what so many have been missing. God doesn’t do adoption- he is into being born again-

    You keep talking and I promise I will keep on listening~

    • Mary, I sit here with tears streaming down my face and I can’t even figure out why. Relief in the realization I am not alone? Hope that I might find answers? Solace in the fact that someone who understands might be listening? You are the first person, aside from my mother and my sister-in-law that I have shared this blog with. Not even my sweet husband knows of it. Thank you for your comment.

      God doesn’t do adoption – he is into being born again. Brilliantly said.

  2. ((((((((((((((((Valency))))))))))))))))))

    You are not alone and now you never will be. There are so many of us who understand- I wish you I could hug you for real, we all need those. It has been a very long time for me. My daughter turned 26 on Monday- and I lived in the same land you did once upon a time- Denial is not pretty and it’s all the harder once you realize the true horror of what happened to you and to your child. I cried every day for more than a year- I still cry and we are in reunion.

    It always puzzles me that so many use the bible to defend adoption. Where in the bible does it say that adoption is ok? Really point it out to me, because I can’t find that passage and I have tried.

    Even Moses went back to be with his family once he knew the truth- and he loved his a mom- but blood is blood.

    And yes, those tears are relief. To not be alone, to finally know you are not the only one, that you aren’t crazy, and yes, you may find some answers now- I get that completely. I don’t know if we can ever fully heal, but I can promise you, it does get better. It really does~

    • Thanks again, Mary. I really appreciate your comments.

      Just like you, I am puzzled by those who use the Bible to defend adoption. And that stuff about Moses…wow, more things to think about in the wee small hours of the morning when I can’t sleep.

      • Not trying to make you lay awake! It just irks me when people pull that one out and the thing about Jesus being adopted! For goodness sake he had a step-father! Joseph didn’t adopt him-

        Religion should not be in this mix- it makes a complicated thing even harder.. *sighs*

      • Mary – It’s not you that keeps me awake, it’s this darn pregnancy. Now at least I have something to think about while I lay there at 3:45 a.m. instead of obsessively wondering if my husband will ever stop breathing like that.

      • I remember those days all too well- argh- And the breathing thing? I feel ya!

        There is a ton to think about that late at nigh, Insomnia has been my constant companion for the last oh, say five years..

      • I am hoping to turn my pregnancy-induced insomnia into productive dissertation-writing time, but no such luck so far. I usually just spend it surfing the net or playing Tetris online. Boo on me!

      • heh- I understand though. Did you know your brain actually shrinks when you are pregnant? Wierd but true- so maybe dissertation writing is not the thing to be doing-

      • Great. Just great.

        On the upside though, at least I feel a wee bit better about not being able to do anything more productive than play Tetris. I thought I had just gotten lazy in my old age or something.

      • That’s good- And actually, you can do your research and all that stuff too, you just have to really discipline yourself. Obviously you know how to do that or you wouldn’t be writing your dissertation right?

  3. Questioning society’s lovefest with adoption is hard enough, it’s even worse when religious orgnanizations are thrown in the mix. I find reading blogs and commenting is therapeutic for me – I hope it helps you, too.

    • Yeah, it is exceptionally brutal when religion is tossed into the mix and used as a hammer on the anvil of adoption. I think that is one of the reasons I have remained silent for so long… My adoption blinders came off about thirteen years ago but I am only now finding my voice, mainly because I have been terrified of the backlash I know is to come from those in my religion who are thoroughly vested in the LDS-version of the lovefest.

      But I cannot remain silent any longer. I deserve better than a silenced motherhood. My daughter deserves better. All of us deserve better.

      • You just keep right on speaking- a lot of us were silent for too long. Blinders are just hard to shed once in awhile.

        They un-mothered us V- and we do deserve better than that. SO do our children!

  4. Excellent blog and wonderful post. I am so thankful you guided me your way.

    Though sometimes speaking out seems to be so tiring and aggrivating, it is a great form of therapy too. In your words, your strength and your courage to stand up and fight for what you believe in, I am guessing you will find comfort in those who understand, those who are there to support you and those who will stop to think and perhaps change some of their views.

    You have an amazing writing skill and I am so happy to find you are adding your voice to the mix.

    You have been added to my blog list with great happiness and I will be back and reading often.

    • Thanks for coming over and checking my stuff out. In all honesty, it has been reading blogs like yours (yes, I am a chronic lurker…) that has helped me find the courage to speak up after all these years. Especially your post today where you said:

      And yet, not only did they never get a chance to put their qualities and abilities to use for their children, they truly believe that they never were good enough for them and that somebody else possessed “better” than them that made them more worthy of raising their child and them grateful that they did.

      That was my story back “then.” Thank God it isn’t any more.

  5. I have to say BRAVO for having the courage to speak out! I have heard from other women who have placed though LDSFS that they basically take the children & run..There is rarely, if any, post-placement counseling for the women (firstmoms) who chose to use their services. But then again why should they offer them any help? That wouldn’t get them their babies now would it?

    • Post-placement what????? At what point do you want me to stop laughing?

      Even now, all these years later I can’t seem to find an LDS therapist who is willing is able to work with me without resorting to the cultural-mandated adoption rhetoric. (Insert large sigh here…)

  6. Well I have to say that my caseworker worked HARD to find me a counselor after I placed. (I moved out of state 3 weeks later) She didn’t want me to fall through the cracks. If I would have stayed in the state I had placed in, the agency I went through had one on one counselors as well as a group for therapy. Hind sight is 20-20 of course. Alas, almost 11 years later here I am…

    Good luck finding ANY counselor who understands the “concept” of open adoption or (GOD FORBID) the ramifications we suffer from our decision. Guess it isn’t a big shock that therapists have no clue. The main stream media & society STILL won’t talk about adoption, let alone the negative aspects of it. {GASP!}

    Don’t get me started on religion & adoption. The LDS church doesn’t have the corner on the market as far as brow beating us into submission,(as much as it may seem that way) but I’d say they are the ones in the lead..

    • It so tangled up, this religion & adoption stuff. No wonder so many mothers end up “losing their religion” after waking up from the adoption kool-aid induced stupor.

      I don’t hold any illusions of massively reforming LDS adoption policy, but lately I have been feeling a bit like Moses, being called out by God from his comfy, secluded (read: safe) goat-herding existence in the mountains to challenge the Pharaoh. After all, Moses was most effective in his efforts to bring about reform in Egypt when he confronted those in charge, rather than hanging around in the desert, talking about reform with his in-laws.

      I wonder if Moses felt like I do right now…”What was that, God? You want me to do *what*???? You are kidding, right? You do realize that those folks won’t be to happy to see me again, especially since you want me to say things that are pretty much guaranteed to upset them, even if what I say is true. Right? And just to make certain – isn’t there *any other* lonely goat-herder that you can get to do this job, right? Right?????

  7. It is so funny how you said you felt s “calling” of sorts. I was sound asleep(sorry not trying to rub it in) when I had some kind of random thought that turned into a dream which in turn woke me up. Why doesn’t someone start a non profit organization on the national level for moms who have placed or are considering placement? A kind of Planned parenthood for adoption reform? (See what I mean, that ‘s a BIG thought to have at 2:00 a.m.) The scarier thing is I want to do this but have no idea where to start. It is oh so apparent to me, that there is a HUGE NEED for this. Writing books, speaking at conventions, & taking our voices to the blogs is not enough for me. I want action. I’m tired & want to see REAL change being made. I want to make that change happen. I want to put my frustration into action. (I think I need to go back to bed & sleep on this a while. My brain gets tired just thinking about the huge undertaking this would be)

  8. I hace started to read differennt things on your blog. I happened to be reading this one. Have either of you thought any more about planned parenthood for adoption reform? I would love to be involved in this. I’m pretty sure my oldest daughter would be involved too.
    Jeannette

    • Jeanette –

      Unfortunately, PP leadership is typically staffed and run by people of the “adopting class” for lack of a better description (read: wealthy, educated, almost always white 35+ year old women). As paradoxical as it sounds, they (and the ACLU & NOW) aren’t all that interested in this particular topic because it would mean (a) they had to admit their own possible culpability in woman-on-woman violence in the form of adoption and (b) their source of children for their own adoptive desires would dry up. I know I am painting with a pretty broad brush and others might find my analysis offensive, but that just about sums up the situation. It sucks but it is what it is, you know?

      Once I am done with my PhD next spring, I will need a new “project” to spend my free time on. I can feel myself being lead in the direction of working as a catalyst for adoption reform, specifically within the LDS church. I would love some help in my efforts – other women and their children who are willing to speak up and speak out about our treatment. I know the BSE is over for most of the country, but for those of us in the LDS church, it’s alive and well, just in more subtle, manipulative ways.

      I will email you shortly – I think we have much to share!

      Melynda

      • Nope you said exactly what is true Melynda. PP, ACLU and NOW Don’t give shite one about this fight. *sighs* Maybe someday they will, but not now.

  9. You know I had another thought last night(I do my best work in bed, trying to doze of to sleep.) Has ANYONE besides the “adoption machine” done some sort of national survey? Has anyone bothered to actually GATHER any sort of post-placement feedback? I mean if the government to go around and do a census, why doesn’t Gallop do a poll on adoption? Isn’t there some sort of birth mom/firstmom national advocacy group that could or would back that? I’d be real interested to see the results would be. I would most definitely like to see us moms included in that “poll” as well.

    • Like Mary said, no one (with lots of money to fund large scale studies or nationwide surveys) is interested in the first mom’s experience in the adoption constellation. Those with money typically are of the adopting class and vocal first moms are a threat to their world view. It all comes down to money…

      That being said, once I am done w/ my PhD, I plan on turning my attention to long term post-placement outcomes for first mothers. With the advent of the internet and open source tools, some of this research has become inherently easier to conduct and I am going to try.

      Melynda

  10. I just came across your blog and read a few of your posts when I decided I needed to go back to the very first post and read in chronological order so I could get a better grasp on your story.

    I have to say I LOVE what you stand for! I am so happy to have come across your blog and I LOVE the ideas in the comments of this post. I think you could find a lot of women across the country who feel the exact same way you do. I am an active member of the LDS church who holds a current temple recommend, but I have a hard time with LDSFS and their views on adoption.

    I have just started my endeavor of going back to school so I can somehow get involved in working with the adoption community to somehow support the women who are often not given the proper guidance and support in their decisions regarding unwed pregnancy. I would gladly jump on the bandwagon of adoption reform and support post-placement for birth mothers.

    I am so glad I found you blog and I have so many questions I want to ask you. I also have the goal of obtaining a PhD, but am not sure if I can do it =) I am just in the beginning of my back to school journey and am working on my bachelors right now.

    • Nicole –

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading it all. Man, that was an undertaking!!! Too often, folks will drop by and read one or two letters and thing they have a full grasp of what this blog is about. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read these letters.

      I am hoping to find other LDS women who feel like I do, who feel that there is a need for change. Interestingly, the coalition I have built so far mainly consists of enlightened adoptive mothers and mothers who are not in any way connected to adoption. My hope is that as more first mothers find the courage to speak up about the hard parts of adoption and to tell the truth about their story, they will want to join efforts to bring about change in how LDSFS and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints handles single expectant parents. I have a research project about this topic simmering on the back of the stove and once we get settled at our new place, I am going to move ahead with it. Do you mind if I contact you to see if you are interested in participating in it?

      Congratulations for going back to school! I won’t lie and say it will be an easy path but after what you have been through as a first mom, it will feel comparatively easy. If a PhD is your end goal, then do it! When I started my program, I whined a lot to my mom about how “old” I would be when I got done. Her reply: Well, you will be that old any way Melynda. Why not be “that old” with a PhD?

      Thanks again for stopping by and taking all that time to read!

      Melynda

  11. Haha, your mom’s insight was a good one! I love that!
    I would not mind at all if you wanted to contact me about getting involved with a project related to helping others in our situation…I try to get involved in any way I can because it makes me feel like maybe someday I can make a difference for another expectant mother who is where I was. If just one person had supported me I might have been able to keep my son.

    It took me a few days but I finally finished reading your entire blog. Wow, I have such similar feelings but am not a very good writer! I am working on that though as my professors give me specific feedback on that =)

    Anyhow, my email is n-gibeault@comcast.net and my blog is http://lifeafterfirstmom.blogspot.com

    And let me just apologize in advance if you do decide to stop by my blog that I do use the word birth mother, not to be derogatory to anyone, but it just comes more naturally to me.

    • Nicole,

      No need to apologize for using the word birth mother on your blog! It is your blog, after all. 🙂 I used to the terms as well, until I truly understood this ontology of the word and how it came into being used. One of the reasons “natural” mother fell out of favor was because it made adoptive mothers feel like it meant they were “unnatural.” By logical extension, they should have problem with “birth” mother as well because then it would mean they were the “death” mother! That’s is why I prefer “first” mom and “second” mom. It is more reflective of an adoptee’s reality, if that makes any sense.

      Thanks for letting me know about your willingness to participate in my study. I will contact you privately when I get the IRB approval and a few other things in place. I am so grateful that you found my blog and took the time to read it! I look forward to getting to know you better.

      Melynda

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