No Hat Tossing for Me, Just Singing Solo on a Blacked-Out Stage


There has been a recent eruption in the blogosphere between some LDS folks and the ladies over at the forum/blog that bills their blog as a  “place where first/birth/natural/real mothers share news and opinions. And vent.”

Some of my friends who read these letters I write to you and that forum/blog have wondered why I have not tossed my hat into the ongoing fracas over there. Well, the main reason is this: it is “a place for first/birth/natural mothers to share news, opinions, and vent”…unless you do not fit within their narrow, stereotyped notion of what an LDS birth mother should act like or say.

If they truly wanted to have honesty in advertising, their headline banner should read like this: “A place where first/birth/natural/real mothers share news and opinions. And vent. (That is, unless you are an active LDS birth mother who doesn’t fit within our “good LDS b-mommy” paradigm and regurgitate LDSFS propaganda which allows us to summarily attack your argument and dismiss your experiences all in one fell swoop, as we do all useful idiots. Do not bother posting a comment if you are a thinking, articulate LDS birth mother who is still a faithful member  but DOES NOT believe in the LDSFS garbage. It will not further our agenda so we will not post it.)”

However, that headline is not nearly as catchy or all-inclusive as the “place where first/birth/natural/real mothers share news and opinions. And vent.” one is, would you not agree?

It is terribly ironic. I am in nearly 100% agreement on every single thing the owners of that blog post about adoption and family preservation. This latest discussion about the Oregon bill HB 2904? I come down firmly on the side of “IT IS FABULOUS” and much needed legislation. It is a giant leap forward in the protection of expectant parents AND potential adoptive parents.

However, it seems like because I am LDS I have been branded as “one of them.” And because I am “one of them,” but I do not spout the typical, “adoption is such a miracle and a blessing” garbage so typical of LDS b-mommies, the blog owners do not know quite what to do with me. Honestly, I can understand their leery hesitation – I am about as unusual as a unicorn in the LDS adoption scene. Unfortunately, however thoughtful, measured, or supportive of their cause my response may be, my (still faithful and active LDS member) voice doesn’t serve a useful purpose to them. They cannot grind their anti-LDS ax against my rough stone, as it were.

I have submitted numerous posts over the past months merely seeking to correct misconceptions about LDS policy or doctrine that seem to have just….disappeared. Some of the ones where I call out other church members make the editorial/censorship cut but the ones that attempt to explain or correct misinformation (using published sources, not my personal conjecture or opinion) just…dissipate into a gaseous cloud of binary information floating around out there on the internet. (I know that is not what really happens, but just let me wax poetic for a moment, mmmkay?)

After a while, a girl gets the message.

Your voice is not welcome. There is no room at the table for you. Move along, little lady, move along.

Once again, it feels terribly ironic.  I would have thought (and I did at first), that the blog owners would welcome a staunch LDS church member who supports their positions on adoption 100%. I would have thought that my lived experiences as a birth mother who has (a) not left the church and (b) isn’t main-lining the adoption kool-aid like so many other LDS birth mothers would have been an asset to their discussion….

But I thought wrong.

Their continued heavy handed censorship of my comments has left me wondering…what other voices are they silencing? Who else is not being heard on the forum that touts itself as being a place for all birth mothers? Whose stories remain invisible? Whether it be for practical or political reasons, what does this silence tell us about the forum owners’ agenda?

And so, I choose simply not to submit any more comments. Why bother spending the time crafting a carefully worded, well reasoned response that I know will not be posted? I do not fit the role of the useful idiot LDS b-mommy and so they have no use for me.

I had hoped to find some camaraderie over there, and indeed I have. Through that forum I have met many wonderful adoptees and first mothers who have helped me normalize (as much as possible) this experience of living with disenfranchised grief. However, it has become apparent by the {chirping crickets} silence that I am not welcome there ….and if I am not welcome there, then where do I fit? Where does my voice belong? The owners of that forum do not seem to want me around…I definitely know the good LDS b-mommies do not want me around. So where do I fit?

I cannot believe I am the only LDS mother who has dealt with these issues and chosen to remain in the church. I cannot believe I am the only LDS mother who while extremely grateful I have had the “best” of adoption outcomes as defined by the LDS culture, I am still deeply unhappy about this issue and suffering because of my culture. I cannot believe I am the only LDS mother who is willing to speak out against infant adoption as we currently practice it.

Sometimes I feel like I am singing a solo in the middle of a dark stage with no audience, no accompaniment, no back up choir, nothing but the spot light burning down on me.

 

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18 thoughts on “No Hat Tossing for Me, Just Singing Solo on a Blacked-Out Stage

  1. Many of us are silenced in this way, which is why I did leave my churches. From Catholic to Lutheran and neither faith appreciated my thoughts or respected my feelings. I never even tried to join a forum like the one you speak of. I know what would happen if I did, the same thing that has happened to you. So I blog when the mood strikes me-and continue to speak my truth to anyone and everyone.

  2. Im sorry this is happening to you. I haven’t felt “welcome” there in a while, and that makes me sad. There are a few big mouths there who like to bully adoptees and f Moms and the blog owner allows it to continue. I find more and more adoptees wanting to “jump ship” from there, and it makes me sad. The blog owner really opened my eyes as to what many f Moms go through, and for that I am thankful, but I rarely post there anymore…heck, I don’t even like to read there anymore. But, I guess it is their place, so I need to shut up and bow out, lol.

    • “I rarely post there anymore…heck, I don’t even like to read there anymore. But, I guess it is their place, so I need to shut up and bow out, lol.”

      This is exactly how I feel! Strangely, I take comfort in the knowledge there are others who have felt similar things.

    • I am one of the adoptees who supports much of what the blog owners at FMF say, but am sick of the nastiness heaped on by a select group of commenter bullies. I am sorry that you don’t feel heard over there. I am trying not to go, read, or post where people are unwilling to engage in real dialogue.

      Hugs.

  3. Oh boy… I am so confused at who you are writing about right now! (then that might not be an uncommon occurance these days, lol)

    • LOL – I know the feeling, Myst. I didn’t want to call down the wrath of the birth mother/first mother matriarchs so I tried to be somewhat obtuse about the other blog/forum. I am sure they are good women in their own right….they just have no use for me. I don’t take it personally as I am a complete stranger to them and I wish the the best of luck with all that they do. I just choose not to read their posts or make any attempt to respond, regardless of how pithy or applicable I might think my comment. They obviously feel otherwise!

  4. I really hate the fact that first mothers get into so much disagreement among themselves.

    If you go back over the comments at First Mother Forum, you would all see that we have posted several comments from people who disagree with us, but some of the comments from LDS members (as they made themselves known) were simply vile and went on about how horrible we were, OR were full of misinformation about the bill in question. We simply got tired or responding to statements that were untrue, and I stand by our decision not to post such comments, or engage in more nasty in-fighting that had nothing to do with the bill. We had no intention of bringing in LDS until we found the bill was being misrepresented on various LDS sites, and officially opposed by an LDS offshoot that advertises itself as such on their webpage: “Families Supporting Adoption is an organization sponsored by LDS Family Services which advocates a positive view of adoption and provides support to birth parents, adoptive families and all friends of adoption.”

    Perhaps we are attuned to the LDS stand on adoption, because the Mormon official position through their adoption agencies has bitterly opposed letting adopted people have their original birth certificates. Whenever a state might pass an open -records bill, the lobby organization for LDS Adoption agencies as well as others, NCFA, comes forward to oppose the legislation. What are they afraid of?

    Mormon blogger/adoptive mother Lindsey Redfern at Facebook, whose blog came to our attention because of the Oregon legislation, apparently let stand a whole long list of quite derogatory comments about my friend and fellow blogger, Jane, suggesting voodoo dolls and the like on her Facebook page. This is hardly good behavior from any religion, anyone.

    Also, we are not at the blog 24/7, and some comments are published after both Jane and I both read them. I was away from the computer for more than a day, and thus some were not posted yesterday that are there today. We have also not posted comments about Lindsey Redfern, or Mrs. r, that simply seemed angry.

    Just as we know that not all Catholics represent the views of the many many Catholic Charities adoption agencies and bishops who support keeping adoptees from knowing the truth of their origins, we also know that not all LDS members are opposing this bill, that many LDS members do search for their natural parents, including Jane’s own daughter, Megan, who has herself fanned the flames of this particular issue with both her comments and her contacting Lindsey Redfern. We have no issue with the Mormon church outside of its stand on adoption, open records, and legislation that would protect the birth mother.

    I personally do not recall rejecting any comments from Mrs. Feverfew; surely we would have welcomed a comment from someone in favor of the bill who identified herself as a Mormon and a birth mother. We did get tired of comments talking about Lindsey Redfern. Sometimes comments that we would otherwise post are rejected because of a careless personal note or statement that merely jacks up the anger. At this blog, you know my email address and name, while we do not have the ability at our blog to set up our comments in this fashion. I wish we did, as we would get fewer Anonymous posts. We are more critical of Anonymous writers than others.

    After Jane’s blog today, I hope we can move on to other issue. You may also note that an Anonymous poster has been opposing the bill left and right, and we have posted his or her comments. He or she says he or she is an adoptee.

    I have enjoyed your blog in the past. I am sorry you will not be joining us again.

    • Lorraine – Thank you for responding to this post. I appreciate you taking the time to explain what might have happened to the comments I submitted. I assure you, none of the ones that got lost in (cyber) space were about Mrs. Redfern, nor were they posted anonymously. I am one of those kinds that feels if I don’t have the courage to post a comment under my name/identity, I probably shouldn’t be posting a comment at all, regardless of the blog or forum.

      I wish I could answer your question about why the LDSFS and LDS church are afraid if adoptees have access to their OBCs. What I can say, from an “insiders” perspective is that thing are changing – slowly, YES, but changing. The church’s change in their official policy about contact between adoptees and first families is HUGE. Hopefully it will start to trickle down and other things (like the opposition to OBCs) will start to change as well.

      M.

      • Did you try to post a comment with the name Valency? Or Letters To?

        I recall no comments with either name (and Letters To… has posted in the past) and since it’s kinda of unusual, I think I would recall it. We frequently hear that people have trouble posting comments, and we cannot fix it. You have to make sure it says awaiting moderation.

        Your opinion at the blog (the arguing is still going on, we are getting blasted elsewhere now, in comments at other blogs) would be highly welcome.

        I have been, in a sense, fighting the late Bill Pierce, and NCFA (which he started, agencies such as Gladney, and LDS since I got into adoptee and first mother rights in the Seventies. From what I know about “sealing” and that part of the belief system, I can understand the conflict with finding one’s original parents, but it sure has put a kink into the road to opening records. And it’s usually done in the name of the birth mother…whose life will be ruined if she is outed.

        Well, not really. People are more understanding than that.

        Or should be.

      • Lorraine – I typically post comments under the user name “letters to ms. feverfew.” Perhaps the disappearing posts are just a matter of technical glitches in the matrix. Thank you for the advice on making sure that it says it is awaiting moderation.

        I guess my unique perspective is that the sealing ceremony should give adoptive parents all the comfort and courage in the world. If they truly believe the sealing ceremony joins the adoptee to their family for time AND all eternity, then what does it hurt to let an adoptee find his or her natural parents? I suspect the resistance to the opening of sealed records has to do with the secrecy and shame surrounding single motherhood, especially during the era of mass surrenders. In the early ’90s when I relinquished, I was told to NEVER tell anyone what had happened, that it would affect my chances at marriage and future callings or leadership positions. I was even told that I should not tell my future husband, who ever he might be. It was to be a secret and should remain that way until I died. If I was being told those kinds of things in the ’90s, I can only imagine what the mothers of early times had been told.

        One of the issues we struggle with as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is pride and in trying maintain the appearance of perfection. As you are well aware, many first mothers go on to over-compensate for their loss by becoming uber-successful in other areas of their lives. In the LDS culture, success is defined as having a perfect home life with perfect children and a perfect husband – anything less than that is considered substandard. So if a woman had been admonished to NEVER tell a soul about what happened or it will destroy her and her family, then spends the rest of her life in a very closed culture which reinforces prideful behavior towards “perfection” in the home, it is no wonder that she is terrified of what will happen if anyone were to find out.

        However, it doesn’t make it right. In fact, it is a great tragedy for all involved.

        I haven’t jumped into the fray in some of the blogs wars at this point because I am trying to finish my dissertation by Mar 31. It goes without saying that adoption “issues” can take up a lot of mental energy. I am trying to conserve mine for what matters most right now: my family and my stooopid dissertation. However, when it is done – the gloves come off.

        M.

  5. Ms. Feverfew,

    Thank you for your support of HB 2904.

    I hope that you will continue commenting on First Mother Forum. I’m puzzled about your statement that we refused to post your numerous comments. We usually post comments immediately; if I have a question about the appropriateness of posting a comment, I send it to the Spam Folder. It stays there until Lorraine can look at it; sometimes this takes a day or more. The only comments we reject (and there are very few) are those which contain nothing but mean remarks directed at us. Actually, we’ve let a few of those go by.

    If somehow we messed up and rejected one of your posts, please re-send it. Once we reject a post, it is gone and we have no way of seeing it again.

    Let me add, we are not critical of mothers who surrendered through LDS Family Services. Our criticism is directed to LDS Family Services itself and the Church’s promotion of adoption and opposition to allowing adult adoptees obtain their original birth certificates.

    Jane Edwards

    • Jane –

      Thanks for stopping by and responding to my post. Like I said, I completely agree with nearly every thing that is written over on your blog. Like you, my criticism of the LDS church is “directed to LDS Family Services itself and the Church’s promotion of adoption and opposition to allowing adult adoptees obtain their original birth certificates.”

      I appreciate you letting me know that the missing comments are accidental.

      M.

  6. Dear Valency:

    I was hoping you had responded to my last comment and was glad to see that you did.

    I am horrified that this kind of attitude you described still prevails, or did prevail into the Ninties…I had no idea that was the case. I assume that is the reason that some first mothers feel they can not meet or face their surrendered children, and file the “no contact” forms in Oregon and elsewhere.

    But to be told to not tell anyone–including a future husband!–what a terrible terrible secret “sin” to have to contain. I was able to tell my first husband when he asked me to marry him; and by the time I met my second, Birthmark had alraedy come out. There was no hiding for me then.

    Your explaining the recent and probably current LDS position on out-of-wedlock birth explains a great deal to me, and I am sure Jane. I come from a Catholic background, and while I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I truly understand the hold that early religion has on one’s outlook and thinking.

    BTW, you can see my email address, right? Contact me there when you wish. What is your dissertation on? Just curious.

  7. My adoptive parents grew up in an Idaho Mormon farming town of less than 1,000. The entire town was white and LDS, except for one Catholic family. In small homogenous communities, Mormon or otherwise, you often see this culture of trying to keep up a perfect appearance. Everybody knows everybody else, everybody does business with everybody else, everyone helps everyone else during planting and harvest, and everyone is related to everybody else. Reputation in a small community may mean survival, quite literally. Secrets are part of a closed-community culture. Until about 50-60 years ago the majority of the LDS church membership lived in non-diverse Mormon communities of varying sizes in the western United States. Some historians have theorized that this “gathering” of the Saints to a geographically isolated Zion was necessary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to thrive in its early days. In the 1830’s and 1840’s the Mormons lived in the East and Midwest, but some were killed because of their faith and many more had their homes destroyed. The church isolated itself so it could grow, and the dynamics of a closed-community-building-Zion produced ideals of perfection. The things you were told about being a birthmother is part of this closed culture.

    My adoptive parents came of age in the early 1950’s which is about the time the Mormon church really began to expand outside of the Western states. When I was born in 1966 there were only 9 LDS temples outside of Utah. The Oakland, California Temple, where I was sealed to my parents and I later married, was brand new. Today there are 134 operating temples, 119 of them being outside of Utah. The Mormon church has over 9 million members worldwide, the culture continues to evolve.

    My parents and church leaders were the kindest people I have ever known, but on the other hand, they cared a great deal about secrets and reputations. I think my adoptive mother truly believed that my birthmother Jane wouldn’t want to have contact with me because she wouldn’t want to be reminded of that painful period of her life. There was a definite disconnect between the compassion she generally showed to friends, neighbors and church members, and the disdain she felt for Jane. When I reflect back on her roots and the closed community she was raised in, I can understand why.

    • Megan – Thank you for taking the time to comment – I feel very honored that you have done so! My parents were sealed in the Oakland temple in 1967, not long after you were born it sounds like. I appreciated your observations about the history of the LDS people and their tendency towards closed communities. Thank you for sharing your spot-on assessment of that part of our shared experience. Understanding the historical roots has helped me be a bit more compassionate towards first mothers from earlier eras who do not want to be contacted by their child surrendered for adoption.

      I am heartened to hear that your parents were good people; this is what I believe about my daughter’s parents as well. Frankly, it is what all natural parents long to hear about the people that raised their children: that they good people who loved their child and raised them well. It is interesting that you mention the disconnect with how compassionate some are in every other area than when dealing with natural/first parents. This is precisely what I have encountered over the years. That is not to say everyone has treated me that way but I have certainly met with my fair share of it. The most difficult part for me to deal with has not been the sting of rejection by my religious community, but the disconnect between how compassionate and caring they could be towards others but towards me….not so much.

      I hope you continue to read and post comments. I am hungry for a LDS adoptee’s perspective on this whole “thing,” especially one who has had time to think through and process some of the stumbling blocks typically strewn along our communal path, hindering true communication and enlightenment.

      M.

  8. My adoptive parents had some misconceptions about what the temple sealing ceremony does. They believed that my sealing to them was a way to permanently separate me from my birthparents. They were shocked when I told them I had found my birthmom in 1997. I had been sealed to them, so what interest could I possibly have in someone who merely carried me for 9 months, gave birth to me, and gave me her DNA?

    After having been a regular temple attender for years, and doing proxy work for many of my husband’s deceased relatives, I firmly believe that the purpose of the sealings is not to separate out people, but rather to bring the entire family of mankind together. As temple patrons seal family members back through generations, family lines become intermingled and patrons gain a deeper understanding of the kinship and connection they have with all mankind, through the generations. For adoptees this connection must ultimately include their natural families as family lines extend backwards and converge. In the end, we’ll all be one family, not a bunch of separate families.

    Another hearsay dogma my adopted mom believed was that when the sealing occurs there is a literal “blood change” in the child. She took comfort in this for 31 years. When I found my birthmom, she researched this so she could send me the reference and I would become enlightened. What she learned was that no change in DNA occurs with the temple sealing. Rather, the sealing extended the Abrahamic covenant to me and I was adopted into the House of Israel. If my birthmom were ever to make temple covenants she too would be adopted into the House of Israel.

    Your daughter’s adoptive parents likely don’t have these same misconceptions about the temple, at least I hope not. Doctrines about temple work are being preached more and more as we continue to build temples everywhere, so there’s a lot better information. And more and more types of people are being given temple recommends.

    I hope they someday will tell you “thank you” for what everything you’ve given your daughter that they could not.

    • Megan –

      I wish I could say I was shocked or that I had not heard those things before but I am not and I have. 😦 Hopefully the chances that are occurring at the policy level will lead to a greater understanding and clarification of some of the hearsay dogma that have been perpetrated through the decades about adoption. I don’t know what my daughter’s parents believe – they are in their mid ’60s and so they may very well hold similar beliefs as your parents. I simply don’t know and can’t exactly ask them about it! Her father is a Bishop at BYU so perhaps he does have more enlightened understanding. I just don’t know.

      I absolutely love your insights about the sealing ordinance and how it isn’t intended to segregate us binds the entire human family together. I came to a similar conclusion but by a different path. It is gratifying to hear someone else has considered the same thing.

      M.

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