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.

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7 thoughts on “Have you considered…?

  1. I placed through LDS 6 years ago. I origionally was planning on single parenting and I remember having all of these questions given to me to fill out as part of my decision making. They are hard questions to answer. Looking at them now it’s weird to say that I don’t think anyone would ever be ready to have a child based on these questions even if they are married. I am married now but haven’t had any more children yet. I still don’t feel ready to have kids even though i want to. I felt that I made the choice to place and it was best for my child at the time but I have been viewing more “anti-adoption” blogs lately because of a “blog war” and keep hearing of different forms of cohersion and now i’m wondering if I had some and I don’t want to feel that way. I’m starting to ask myself what if’s for example: what if I was able to get help through the government would I have single parented? What if I had raised my son how would my life be different? Would I still have married my husband? sighs i’m not sure and I don’t really want to deal with these questions. i want to stay happy about my choice.

    • Oh Jen, I am so there with you – I completely understand where you are coming from and wish I could reach out across the ‘net and give you a hug. Like you, I desperately wanted to stay “happy” about my choice to relinquish because if I didn’t remain “happy” about my choice, then what did that mean about my faith in God and the Atonement? What would the mean about my standing in the LDS church? After all, I am a tithing paying, temple attending, RS/Primary/YW leadership position holding, married-in-the-temple, scripture reading, family prayer saying kind of gal. Questioning the adoption practices in the LDS church puts me in a very precarious position, if you know what I mean. And if I didn’t remain happy (and quiet) about the whole thing, then what did that say about me as a daughter of God?

      By facing my truth about losing my daughter (and no, I didn’t quit thinking about her after a year like I was told I would by LDSFS), I have been forced to make a decision. I either had to reject the theology I love so dearly or to look straight into the face of God and ask Him to explain Himself. I thought I had difficult questions about my relationship to Him and about LDS adoption practices. And guess what I found? They weren’t difficult questions for Him. I discovered that God is big enough to deal with my sadness, my tears, and yes, even my anger at coercive LDS adoption practices (like those ridiculous questions of which you rightly observed you “don’t think anyone would ever be ready to have a child based on these questions even if they are married.”)

      17+ plus years and almost three children later, I now know the answer to many of the questions you asked: Yes, you would have been able to single parent had you gotten help through the government. If you had parented your son, your life would be much richer – perhaps you wouldn’t have finished school as fast, perhaps you wouldn’t have traveled as much but you would have your son by your side – “bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, fruit of your age old mother pain.”. And I could pretty much guarantee you would have still married your husband. In the temple. Ask him. (Just be sure to have a lot of tissue handy because you will cry about his response). I know this because if you were anything like me, then you were simply trying to do what you thought was “best” based on the information you were given by LDSFS. You, like me, are probably a lot like the women Cassi writes about over at Adoption Truth:

      These women aren’t addicted to drugs or alcohol. They aren’t prone to abuse or neglect their children. They are exactly what you would expect a good mother to be – genuinely loving of the tiny lives they were blessed to carry and nurture to life.

      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.

      After several years of therapy and much prayer, fasting, and scripture study, I can no longer say I am “happy” about my choice to relinquish my daughter. However, I can say that I have some degree of peace about the situation. Peace in knowing God’s true feelings about me as His daughter and His belief in my ability to parent. Peace in knowing that my choice to relinquish was based in love, even if it was the wrong choice. Peace that I am doing the right thing by speaking out. Peace in the research I am slowly pulling together to present a valid, logical, academic, and empirically based response to LDS adoption practices. Peace in my personal relationship with my husband and remaining children. Peace that allows me to continue attending church and participating in the ordinances of the gospel, even when it is the culture of the church that told me I was not worthy enough to parent my daughter. It’s the peace that surpasses understanding, that tenuous gift from God that comes only after the trial of faith.

      I guess I just wanted to let you know that it is OK to be unhappy about how things turned out. It doesn’t make you a bad Mormon, just an honest one. I promise – God (and the Atonement) are big enough to cover the sufferings and tears of us mothers too.

      Much love,

      M.

    • And hopefully someday, I will have made it as far as you Mary!

      I *think* I have finally made it to the “peaceful place” in this journey – well, at least, I have been to the mountain. I still seek to find balance in the Zen-like wisdom of it is what it is but I am definitely getting better at changing the things I can change and gracefully accepting the things I can’t do anything about.

      Baby steps, right?

  2. Baby steps is right, I still take those some days.
    A very wise young woman told me once. to get past it, you have to go through it~ It’s very true, feeling your feelings is so important to the process. Letting yourself cry and grieve too. I found once I got past the really hard part, I got really angry, I am still angry you know that. BUt at a system not at people. Well except for the idiot people who can’t see the forest for the trees~

    • Ooo…didn’t you know? It is never becoming for an LDS woman to get angry (said only in slight jest). I wonder what they will make of me then. I am not particularly nice when I am angry and tend to fall back on logical, pointy-headed academic debating tactics. I also am a “take no prisoners” kind of angry person (not one of my best points, but as long as we are being honest…). It will be interesting to see what happens when and if I finally do get to that angry phase of recovery.

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