Can I have that white hot anger with a squeeze of lime, please?


Dear Ms. Feverfew –

The latest edition of the Ensign arrived the other day. This afternoon I read it. And then spent the rest of my day alternating between crying and being angry. Maybe it is just pregnancy hormones, but something tells me it’s not.

In this month’s edition, there is an article titled The Promise of the Temple. Smiling up from the glossy page is a picture of a near-perfect family: five beautiful children, a wonderful husband, and a glowing wife. The articles tells the story of a woman who married “outside the faith” and her journey back into full activity in the church, culminating in her family being sealed for all eternity in the Dallas Temple. For all intents and purposes, this is a good story – actually, a wonderful story of love conquering all, even the tragic death of one of her daughters.

However, I didn’t even make it through the first couple of paragraphs before I literally threw the magazine across the dining room and started sobbing into my half-eaten lunch. The article made me angry, so very very very angry.  And this is why: In the LDS adoption world, young mothers are told over and over and over again that one of the most important “gifts” they can give their child are parents who are sealed together in the temple for all eternity.  She is also told that she (as the single, unwed mother) simple does not qualify and will most likely never qualify for that privilege if she decides to parent instead of relinquishing her child. She is told that adoption through LDS Family Services:

“…ensures that the child will be sealed to a mother and a father in the temple, and it enhances the prospect for the blessings of the gospel in the lives of all concerned. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive family.” (www.lds.org under “Gospel Topics: Adoption“, emphasis mine)

But…but…but…but what about that woman in the article?  She wasn’t sealed in the temple when she started having children.  That means her children were just as “bereft of the sealing ordinance” as you were but for some reason…for some reason it was OK for them but not for you. Sure she was married, but she wasn’t sealed in the temple to her (at the time) non-member husband.

If adoption in the LDS faith is really about ensuring children being sealed to temple worthy parents, then why wasn’t she told by her Bishop to relinquish her young children for adoption?  By her own admission, she didn’t feel like living up to the standards to qualify for temple attendance at that time. According to LDS Family Services rhetoric, wouldn’t relinquishing her children for adoption by a temple-worthy couple have been the most “unselfish, loving  decision” for her to have done? If it was for me, then why not her too?

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Are her children any more precious and valuable to her than you are to me?   And why did this woman get the support she needed while parenting her children to help her family eventually attain the blessings of the temple but I never did while I was parenting you? Why was I told that relinquishing you the absolute best way to show that I loved you?

Like me, was she ever told that since her children weren’t “born in the covenant,” they would most likely never qualify for the blessing of being sealed to parents? You can bet she was never once told something like that – she was only offered encouragement, support and unyielding love from her leaders in her decade long journey to the temple as she parented her un-sealed children.

Why wasn’t I? Was she inherently more worthy than me? Were her children more special than you? I ask again: If relinquishing you to adoption so you could be sealed to temple-worthy parents was the most “unselfish, loving  decision” I could make simply because I could not provide you with that benefit at that time, then what about every woman in this church who has a child with a man to whom she is not sealed in the temple? Shouldn’t she be encouraged to relinquish her child(ren) for the exact same reason?

All of this leaves me wondering if adoption in the LDS culture is less about sealing children to parents than it is about something else. What? I don’t know. But it just seems so paradoxical that on one hand, the “right” of a child to be sealed trumps a mother’s right to parent but on the other hand, that “rule” isn’t universally applied to all mothers who have children.

Needless to say, my outburst startled the Professor and brought Mr. Amazing Man in from the library to see what was wrong.  Even Captain Knuckle turned off the Wii and peered over the back of the couch as I sat there and ranted. As always, Mr. Amazing Man said all the right things and comforted me in all the right ways (God bless him for that).  The Professor hugged me and told me that he loved me even though I was so sad and mad.

It was just what I needed right then: unconditional, unfettered love and support, regardless of my shortcomings. I just wish there had been more of it in my life 17 years, 7 months, and 18 days ago.

Much love and belief,

M.

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5 thoughts on “Can I have that white hot anger with a squeeze of lime, please?

  1. Holy cow I was just in tears last night with my husband over this same thing! I was asking what is the churches official stance on adoption because there seems to be two very conflicting teachings out there. I feel like one side throws away natural mothers (the thought that adopted children were meant to come to their adopted parents just through another vessel ..gag..and that once the children are sealed to them they are a happy eternal family). The other side I feel kind of negates the adoptive parents (that we aren’t adopting the children to have them sealed to US but to give them the blessing of the sealing power.)

    Okay I am confusing myself here but it all makes sense in my head. My point is actually that I totally agree with you. Natural mothers play a role in my children’s life now and eternal life. THat is what I believe. But what is that role? I can’t find any doctrine to tell me what is my role and what is her role. I feel like most LDS adoptions throw away the natural mom. She “does the right thing” and gives kids a chance to get the sealing blessings…but then what????
    I feel that it is very vague and I wish there were more issues discussed and less happy families dressed in white articles.

    My husband is so over me worrying about this. He’s like Heavenly Father will work it all out. But I hate that answer and want to know…is my home just an earthly “day care” and as the mother is my only role to give them the sealing power?
    Were you just a “birth” mom who covenanted with your baby that you give birth to her but then give her to her “real” family to be sealed to???

    What is it?

    Now…let me finish with that the answers don’t change the way I feel about my kids or the fact that we all feel like we are doing the right thing now. But I feel like adoption is glossed over in the church and I want more answers!!

    Sorry for rambling!!
    Keep posting…these aren’t easy subjects but they have to be talked about to find understanding. Thanks!

    • Shannan –

      Has your husband been talking to my husband? My husband says the same thing to me – Heavenly Father will work it all out. Yeah, I know buddy but I want answers NOW!!! Like solid, concrete answers that help me understand why this happened and what it means for me, what it means for the gorgeous, sensitive, intelligent creature I gave birth to and for her adoptive family in the eternal scheme of things.

      I wrestle with the dichotomy of LDS adoption rhetoric as well – I don’t know how to resolve it. Is it even possible to resolve? I feel though that maybe, just maybe if I am tenacious enough like Jacob wrestling with God, God will give me understanding, insight, and peace. Perhaps He will impart in me the fierce fearlessness needed to confront my deepest bête noire: the great, gaping maw of adoption in the LDS church.

      Until then – let’s keep talking to each other. I need to hear your perspective more than you will ever understand.

      M.

  2. Reading through your blog. New to it. I experienced similar (though also different) pressures dealing with a Protestant Christian organization. To them, the sin was lack of a present father, not in keeping with what they called “God’s plan for families.” I believe, all these years later, the pregnancy counselors/aka facilitators place children with single parents.

  3. Yep, I’m right there with you. Things fell into line that when I married my second (and best) husband both he and I were sealed to my son who had been born out of wedlock two years prior. How nice that it wrapped up into a nice little bow.

    Fast forward about 10 years or so and I became dear friends with an amazing lady. She was never sealed to her parents because her father never joined the church. She was worthy, her mother was worthy, but there was no sealing ordinance.

    When we met she was in her 30’s, a Certified Nurse Midwife and single without any really prospects for marriage. Around 35 years of age she said to me, I want to be married, I want to have children, but if I can’t be a wife, why should that stop me from being a mother. She adopted a little girl from Guatemala and a year or two later adopted another little girl from Vietnam.

    Now she was a single mother with two darling little girls, but still not sealed. She was worthy, they were worthy, but there was no ability for them to be sealed as a family.

    She cried to me one evening “What am I missing? What are the blessings of sealing that I can’t have? We are taught over and over again about the blessings of being a family sealed together for eternity, but I am not sealed to anyone.”

    I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought over that. There is most definitely much amiss in the way this is all set up right now.

    • There is most definitely much amiss in the way this is all set up right now.

      Yes, especially with how single mothers are treated. Like I said, if I wasn’t a good enough person to be a single mother because it rendered my daughter “bereft of the sealing ordinance,” then how is ANY woman who is raising children not sealed to her “good” enough? As we all know, there are some *exceptional* single mothers out there, women who are FAR better mothers than some who are sealed in the temple to their spouse.

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