“Why Didn’t You Do More Research?”

A few days ago, a younger adoptive mother asked me – with a great deal of disdain, condescension, and ill-will in her message, why I didn’t “do more research” before I relinquished my daughter for adoption. I should have known things would turn out like this. After all, look at all the information that’s out there. Therefore, I had no right to grieve or feel sorrow. I should have known.

Uh . . . because it was 1992 and the World Wide Web was still so young its umbilical cord had not yet dried up and fallen off?

I think I can state with unequivocal certainty that not one of the 10 websites in 1992 was about the irreparable harm that can come to a mother and her child through adoption or the coercive adoption practices that dominated the LDS culture in Utah and LDS Family Services during that time period. I am also pretty certain not one of those 10 websites would have connected me with adoptees and mothers of adoption loss so I could learn from them what it was really like to live this life. Nor was there any website where I could connect with any kind of social aid or services – heck, not even a website on how to find safe & effective birth control.

What was I supposed to have done as a 19-year old pregnant single mother in the pre-World Wide Web era? Waddled my very unmarried pregnant self down the road to BYU and searched through the microfiche & journal stacks for non-existent academic studies about adoption loss, disenfranchised grief, and the long term mental health outcomes for adoptees? By hand?

Any “research” I could have done would have been reading materials created and given to me by LDS Family Services and the LDS church, such as the pamphlet they gave me about all of the horrors that would befall my daughter if I raised her as a single mother. You know, the one where it says that she’ll be less likely to graduate from high school, more likely to abuse drugs if I raised her a single mother, witness or be the victim of domestic violence, and a host of other societal ills.

Turns out that once the World Wide Web had matured to a point where I did have access to information that wasn’t created by the LDS church and I was able to actually do some real research (thanks, Google Scholar!), I discovered a very different story.

I was able to pull the original studies referenced in the pamphlet. And guess what? The main study they used to “prove” their point that I would ruin my daughter’s life if I raised her? It was a study involving a small sample of mothers who had very low IQs/learning disorders and were living independent of any support systems in urban settings.

Uh . . . that was nothing like me in 1992. But everyone acted like it WAS me. Treated me like it WAS me. But I had no way of knowing I was being compared to very low IQ mothers living in isolated urban environments.

My point is that the times were very different back then, especially for a young single Mormon mother in the heart of Utah. There was no Internet. There was no Google. There were no electronic databases of scholarly journal articles that I could search by keywords using Boolean operators.

There were only carefully crafted lies the LDS church fed mothers like me through LDS Family Services and Bonneville Communications.

So, dear random adoptive mother on the Internet who decided to judge me through today’s lens of 1.7 billion websites and make snarky comments on my social media, that’s why I didn’t do more “research” in 1992.