Someone Has to Face the Valley, Part 3: (Some) Answers


Dear Ms. Feverfew,

I am feeling pretty emotionally wrung out, like one of the old bath towels we would use to dry off after one of our daily water fights during the hot desert summers there in Utah. Invariably, just as I was almost dry enough to be let back in the house, a brother would turn the hose on me again, drenching me and the towel. I would enlist the help of one of my siblings to  twist is up like a pretzel, wringing out as much water as possible so I could try to dry off again. That’s kind of what I feel like right now. I am a frayed and faded threadbare towel, laying on the hot summer sidewalk after being twisted into knots.

The first half of the 50 minute session started with me explaining my background and then I started asking him some of the questions I had brought with me. That all ended  when I started asking questions about the counsel single expectant mothers are given in comparison to newly converted single mothers. With tears brimming in my eyes I asked him, “Why was I told it was selfish to raise my daughter but no one would ever consider saying that to a new convert who was single and had a nine month old daughter? What is so different about me and my daughter?” He tipped back onto the back two legs of his chair, crossed his arms and declared, “The church is not interested in justifying its position on adoption. I have a few things I would like to tell you, but I don’t think you would listen.” I said, “Try me.”

And then I sat pretty much silent for the second half as he proceeded to tell me what my problems were and how he felt he was qualified in fixing them.

So I will just hit the “highlights” of the visit with Brother O. and then digest them at greater length over the next few days.

Most Helpful Information:

  • Brother O. told me that the LDS church is looking to get out of adoptions entirely. He said they are going to start referring members who need adoption services to “private agencies”, Catholic Charities, or Lutheran Family Services. When I asked him why, he said, “Members are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the heavy subsidization of adoptions through the tithes and offerings.” While I suspect that has something to do with it, I also suspect the recent lawsuits of fathers who have had their rights trampled on by LDSFS and Utah adopters working their way through the court system there in Utah has a lot to do with it too.  Probably a lot more than any leader in the church is willing to admit out loud.
  • Brother O. also told me that ANY LDS “birth mother” who has EVER relinquished a baby, whether with LDSFS or not is entitled to free counseling for the rest of her life.  I told him he is the first person in the last 18 years that has told me this. Even his secretary told me I had to pay for the visit when I spoke with her on Monday. He leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms, tipped his chin up as the muscles around his eyes went hard, and in a low voice said, “Are you calling me a liar? Pat works for me. She doesn’t know what she is talking about.” Now that I look back, this should have been a clear sign to me to just end the conversation and be done but you know me and my crazy belief that people are fundamentally good and helpful unless they prove otherwise. But bottom line: I didn’t have to pay $112.50 yesterday to be told that my testimony of the gospel is doubtful because of the types of questions I was asking.

Sort of Helpful Information

  • When asked about Fred Riley’s statement about adoption being a priesthood ordinance, he scornfully laughed and said, “He doesn’t work for LDSFS anymore. What does it matter what he said or when he said it?” I pressed him on the issue again and he said, “No, it isn’t. It never has been.” Good, glad we cleared that up.
  • According to Brother O. Colorado now allows any adoptee upon the age of 18 to access their full unamended birth certificate. I don’t know if this is true or not or sort of true for some adoptees but not others.
  • Church policy about contact between adoptees and natural families has changed. (Already knew that.)
  • No, adoptees are not offered the free lifetime counseling if they were surrendered through LDSFS. He had no response to my question, “Why?”

Least Helpful Information

  • When asked why the LDS church was so involved with NCFA, Brother O. tipped his head back again and looked down his freckled nose at me saying, “I don’t see why that is even a concern of yours.”
  • When discussing adoption and the various stories from the scriptures,  he raised his voice at me a bit and said, “Melynda – those are all just metaphors. What do they really mean? They are just words.” Stunned, I just looked at him not sure what to say.
  • “You are truly the exception to the rule, Melynda. Most other single mothers aren’t as successful as you have been. Most other first mothers don’t get their act together either.” (Another point I should have gotten up and left.)

Really, Truly, Awful Things That Should Have Never Been Said

  • “Your questions lead me to believe you have an issue with the church. You are conflating  Mormonism with adoption. They are two different things.” (Uh…no. No they aren’t in this particular situation. Not when the very principles and foundational beliefs of the gospel were used a tools to convince me that my daughter deserved more than me.)
  • “I think it would be good for you to meet with me. Consider it immersion therapy – it would force you to sit here and talk to a man in a white shirt and tie in an LDS church building, and face it, that’s what you really have a problem with – the LDS church.” (My response: “No it isn’t. If I had a problem with the “church,” I sure would not be sitting here today talking to you. I wouldn’t hold a temple recommend, I wouldn’t be paying tithing, and I sure wouldn’t be doing my Visiting Teaching every month.”
  • He saved the best for last though. I had mentioned a couple of times that I know where my daughter lives and that she had grown into a lovely young woman and he said, “What kind of power does having the information give you?” I said what any first mother would say – I get to know that my daughter is alive and that she appears to be doing well. He pressed again, “No, what kind of satisfaction are you getting from knowing where she lives?” Hot tears started streaming down my cheeks as I looked at him and said, “I get to know that my daughter is ALIVE. This is something most first mothers NEVER get to know about their child.” Nonplussed, he pressed again with a sneer in his voice, “You must derive some type of power or satisfaction from this information, especially since her parents don’t want you involved with her life.”  At this point, I had no response….I just sat there and let the tears fall. This is when I knew I was d.o.n.e. talking with him.

Needless to say, I won’t be going back no matter how fabulous Brother O. thinks it would be for me. Thank you, but I don’t need your kind of help. Even though I wouldn’t have to pay any money, the cost for the “help” he is offering is far to high.

More to come later –

M.

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30 thoughts on “Someone Has to Face the Valley, Part 3: (Some) Answers

    • *sigh* Yes, Linda. That just about sums it all up. I just wrote an email to my Bishop to let him know that I went to the meeting and “that I think I would rather deliver a baby without any pain meds than meet with him again.” And that’s the gospel truth.

  1. Good for you Melynda for telling your Bishop the truth. I truly can not abide condescending “counselors” therapists whatever they want to call themselves thankyouverymuch. It’s tantamount to being called a liar and that is something I do not do. Seriously I can’t even believe someone who is supposedly trained to help would do this. This is why I do not go to church anymore- I believe but I do not trust my church in this thing called adoption.

    As for LDS getting out of adoptions well good! Perhaps if this is true the laws in Utah will change as well. There are too many of us raising our voices and speaking our truths and fighting for our rights to be ignored for much longer. Someday it will all end.

    • Yes, I was pleased to hear the LDS church is getting out of adoption services all together. You are so right, Mary – there are too many of us who are no longer willing to stand by and silently suffer.

  2. Melynda, I am so so so sorry. What a jerk off, what gives him the authority to speak to another human that way. He has never felt his child move within. He has never labored and delivered. He was never the first one to hold his baby. How could he truly understand the heart of a mother? To think that we get off knowing wher our children live. Really it’s not about holding power over someone, it is about knowing our children are alive and safe.
    Jeannette

    • To think that we get off knowing wher our children live. Really it’s not about holding power over someone, it is about knowing our children are alive and safe.

      Yes, Jeanette. Exactly this.

    • Yes, Mei-Ling. I guess us first mothers derive some kind of unhealthy satisfaction knowing that our children are alive and doing well in life. {I feel like I need to go gargle now from saying that}.

  3. Oh, M, THIS is not counseling! Totally not. You’re not even “not getting counseling” by not going back. He’s strong-arming and intimidating (not that you WERE intimidated, but he was trying…) There’s no way he doesn’t have a conflict of interest in meeting with you and any professional counselor should be adhering to a Code of Ethics like the ACA’s (http://www.cacounseling.org/codeofethics.pdf)

    Which starts off:
    A.1.a. Primary Responsibility
    The primary responsibility of counselors is to respect the dignity and to
    promote the welfare of clients

    This guy is an imposter, as well as being a jerk.. Please have nothing further to do with him! He doesn’t care about you, and that’s HIS problem, not yours! Yuck!

    • Kim – He was trying to strong-arm me and intimidate me but I am so over that. It worked 18 years ago but there’s been a helluva lotta water under the bridge since then. Not much spooks me any more. My husband has decided he is the WORST counselor in the world. I think I might agree…he could have just listened to me you know, without the lecturing. That would have been fine. No worries about me having any thing else to do with him – once was enough to figure out that his “counseling” style isn’t a good fit for me. Maybe it is for others, but certainly not for me!

      M.

  4. Sick to my stomach and in tears for you. I am SO thankful the LDS church is getting out of adoption! I think that speaks volumes that others are having serious doubts about the ‘blessing’ of adoption.
    I don’t know what to say. I am so so sorry you had to go through that. You amaze me! Sending a big virtual hug!
    I’m sorry that he couldn’t open his heart and his eyes and validate your feelings. What an ass!

    • Jen – Yeah, he was a big fat poo-poo head, but I have to stand back and consider the source. After all, it is his job to support the current LDSFS stance on the happy-happy joy joy version of adoption. I totally understand that. What I DON’T understand is calling my testimony into question because I don’t follow along in lock step with his world view…that was just mean.

      Seriously, the best news of the day was the the church is trying to get out of the adoption business – I don’t care what the reasons are, just let it be done quickly. Do you remember the Indian Placement program and how quickly that social ocial experiment within the LDS church disolved into thin air? I hope this goes away just as rapidly.

      M.

  5. I am so, sorry. I am a birthmother but not LDS. My father was born and raised LDS, my Uncle is a Bishop. The entire paternal side of my family is Mormon. I am not Mormon and am not qualified to give an opinion. I respect all religons. However I have to say, that these answers from this “counselor” whether they be from an LDS, Catholic, Jehovah Witness, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jew, etc. are soooooo infuriating to hear (as a fellow birthmother). You are such a strong woman.

  6. Egads! I am not at all familar with the Church of LDS– but this style of counselling sounds somewhat like what I have heard from my Catholic friends who have sought counselling from a Priest. IMO, religious types should not be allowed to counsel on anything other than their faith– most of the accounts I have heard of involve a condescending male. I think you are very brave for having tried to address your questions with him– sorry he was such a jerk to you– with a major J.

  7. I’d have questioned him on what peverse enoyment HE was getting with this line of questioning. Believe me, there are much better qualified counselors out there than this sick pup. Do yourself a favor and find one.

    • Yes, good points.

      I had a fantastic therapist back in Utah through my school. Too bad they don’t do counseling from a distance. 2200 miles is too far for me to commute!!!

  8. After reading your last post my sister read this post and she shed tears. She told me this is why I left the church. People like this man that could not apolagize but would judge others. People that only see things through there distoreted view and had no empathy for others. People that would kick someone while they were down instead helping them up.

    • Yes, and you are not the only one Jeannette. I can deal without the apology but the judgmental behavior towards me and the outright unkindness of his responses…it’s enough to drive a person to drink if they think about it long enough!

  9. The last thing my sister told me is wow adoption has it’s very own language. I had to explain what a PAP is, pre-birth matching, OBC, ABC, and even what was meant by “single expectant mothers are given in comparison to newly converted single mothers”. I guess I forget that adoption has its own language.

  10. excited to read thru this, at a very quick skim it appears that brother O is the one who is misinformed, as i recently met with various ‘directors’ as they now call them, in the region.
    there have been some big changes in the ldsfs infrastructure and in the ‘rules’ regarding adoption, most of which im pretty excited about. i dont think implementation of all of them has started yet though.

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog. I guess I need to start working my way up the LDSFS food chain then because someone is selling someone a load of poo. (Not to imply that you are, but someone in LDSFS is). I wonder what LDSFS is going to tell all those good B-mommies that were promised free counseling for life. Should make for an interesting Ensign article.

      M.

  11. Some days I get to thinking, I’ll believe God is “in the church” (the body of “believers) when they see what adoption really is and does. As in taking advantage of the disadvantaged, the poor and needy, coveting, and one of the cruelest things that can be done to a mother and child, and a very damaging thing to do to families. It would be nice if they were willing to answer questions without being hateful. It would be nice to if they actually taught what the bible says about “if a man lays with maid” they are to marry. NOT split them up and take the baby! I wrote to 7 different groups of the church I was in years ago and not one. not one, replied to what I wrote about adoption even to tell me to buzz off. It told me a lot. I left. Always felt like I needed to carry a bag of stones with me for them to throw… sad.

    It sounds like you did get through to him. If you hadn’t touched some touchy places he wouldn’t have reacted the way he did. He cannot say he does not know now. You educated him. Whether he wanted it. or not.

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