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.
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)
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)
“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 –