This. is. So. Wrong.

Dear Ms. Feverfew:

UT_adoptee_coltonThis.

UT_adoptee_melissaIs.

UT_adoptee_jamieSo.

UT_adoptee_BrendanWrong.

UT_adoptee_siblingsSo very, very, very wrong.

It is wrong these people do not have access to the truth in the form of their original unaltered birth certificates.

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It is wrong they have been denied factual information of their heritage. It is wrong they have to post their personal information on social networking sites, begging others to share their photos in the hopes they find their natural family.

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As radical as it might seem to some, I believe adoptees should have complete and total access, with no veto ability by natural parents, to their unaltered original birth certificates at all times, even before the age of majority. If that were to happen, these adoptees would not have to post personal and private statistical information all over social networking sites.

searchingWhile I am infinitely grateful adoptees are having success connecting with their roots this way, e.v.e.r.y. single one of these photos convicts those of us who occupy a more privileged space than the adoptee.

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Every single one of these pictures stands as a testament of the blatant discrimination existing in an adoptees life from the moment their adoption is finalized.

The non-adopted have unfettered access to their original birth certificates. Adoptees don’t. For no reason other than the adults in their life decided they shouldn’t. That is wrong. Adoptees did NOTHING to deserve the discrimination heaped on them by our closed records system.   They deserve and are entitled to their original birth records, whether they choose to pursue reunion or not.

There are those in Utah who are working on fixing the Utah Mutual Consent Adoption Registry to make it a bit more equitable for adoptees, but their efforts keep getting struck down by one member of the Eagle Forum. The laws weren’t fixed this legislative session, but I am going to do all that I can to see that they do get changed there in Utah.

OhioOpenUnlessClosed If miracles like the one above can happen in Ohio (open access, contact veto given the the ADOPTEE, not the natural parent!!!!), then they can happen in Utah as well.

Much love,

M.

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Dear Person Who Found this Blog By Searching for “pro-adoption scripture”

Dear Person Who Found this Blog By Searching for “pro-adoption scripture” –

There are none.

At least not if one is looking for scriptural justification to take another woman’s child, lie about that child’s parentage on a falsified birth certificate, and then raise that child as their own. Ain’t. Gonna. Find. It.

Don’t believe me? Go read this forthcoming article by David M. Smolin, Professor of Law titled “Of Orphans And Adoption, Parents And The Poor, Exploitation And Rescue:  A Scriptural And Theological Critique Of The Evangelical Christian Adoption And Orphan Care Movement.” It will be published in the Regent International Law Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, in Spring 2012. Full document can be downloaded from this link as well : adoption.christian.regent.smolindraft1.2.12-1.

He makes so many cogent points in this article, but there are two that have really stuck with me since I first read the article. The first one is about Joseph and his treatment of a young unwed mother.

“…what Joseph did in helping an otherwise “single mother” to keep and raise her own child was consistent with the ministries of Jesus and Elijah in assisting single women and their children in staying together. Honoring the “birth” mother—honoring the motherhood of Mary—is exactly contrary to the kinds of adoptions advocated by the modern Christian adoption movement, which typically takes children from living mothers and gives them to non-related people as their adoptive children.  If Joseph had acted in a way typical of the Christian adoption movement, Mary would have lost Jesus at birth.” (Emphasis mine).

The next deals with “pro-adoption” scriptures in the New Testament.

“Despite the claims of the Christian adoption and orphan care movement of a fundamental New Testament call to horizontal adoption—and specifically to the adoption of orphan children—-the New Testament does not record a single such event.  If Jesus and the apostles were calling the New Testament church to practice horizontal adoption of orphans, it seems to have escaped the notice of the writers of the New Testament entirely.   Despite clear New Testament admonishments to assist the poor and widows, and despite a clear New Testament record of the early church in fact engaging in organized efforts to assist the poor and widows, there is no parallel New Testament record of anyone being urged to adopt an orphan, or of anyone doing so….Hence, we have the mysterious gap of a Bible supposedly urging horizontal adoption as a fundamental practice of the church, without any Biblical record of anyone actually encouraging Christians to adopt, and without any record of Christians actually adopting orphan children. “ (Emphasis mine).

So put on your pointy-headed thinking cap, pull out a red pencil and go read Smolin’s article and then get back with me about “pro-adoption scriptures.”

Sincerely,

M.

 

 

Utah Mutual Consent Adoption Registry

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Did you know that since 1987, Utah has an active mutual consent adoption registry? This means if both you and I fill out the forms, send in our birth certificates, and $25, they will share identifying information with each other AND release your adoption records, including your original birth certificate?  Not just for me and you, but if your brothers and sisters want to register, they can as well. Did I mention it has been around since NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN?

I know it isn’t perfect by any means, but why haven’t I known about this before? Don’t you think that SOMEONE (ahem, STUPID LDSFS PEOPLE) should have mentioned this little, teeny, tiny tidbit of information to me? Don’t you think SOMEONE should have printed out the forms and said, “Hey – why don’t you fill these out so your daughter can get her original birth certificate?” Oh, that’s right. Because then they would have had to explain sealed records, falsified birth certificates and all that jazz.

1987, people – 19freakin87.  I wonder how many other first mothers who relinquished in Utah know about this registry and have actually registered.  Or how many were just as clueless as I was until about 20 minute ago? Do you know about it? Do you know that you can have access to your original birth records when you turn 21 if your mother has joined the registry? Do other adoptees know about it?  WHY NOT??????

At first I wasn’t going to register – we already know each others name and contact information, why spend the $25 and go through the hassle? I have a copy of your original birth certificate, which I have always planned on giving to you – especially since the tightened security rules will make it nearly impossible for you to get a passport without it. But then the thought went through my mind: Ms. Feverfew needs to have access to it, on her own, independent of me. Just like I am able to do, you need to be able to fill out a form and get your original birth certificate without anyone hassling you about it. It’s your right; your birth right.

So sitting in front of me right now is the form, all filled out. I just need to have it notarized and then I will send it in. 1987. This registry has been around since 1987.  There’s not much I can do to help you along the path you are walking, but this? This I can do.

Much love,

M.

P.S. Edited to add this: I just spoke with an amazing mama who relinquished her baby for adoption in Utah through LDSFS within the last year or so. She has never heard of the Utah Mutual Consent Adoption Registry or the fact that her child can gain access to their original birth certificate ONLY if she registers. Huh. I thought adoption was so “different” nowadays than it was “way back when.” I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. Babies still loose their mamas, mamas still lose their babies, and no one tells the mothers or the adoptees about being able to access the adoption records or OBC.

IF YOU ARE AN FIRST PARENT OR ADOPTEE FROM UTAH, HERE IS THE PDF FORM . FILL IT OUT AND SEND IT IN. TODAY.

Utah_Adoption_Registry

(Moms – Even if you have a copy of the original birth certificate and the adoptive couple has a copy of the original birth certificate and you put one in a time capsule, YOUR CHILD HAS THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THAT BIRTH CERTIFICATE INDEPENDENT OF YOU OR HER ADOPTIVE PARENTS.  Yes, the physical piece of paper that is an OBC is important, but access to it is equally important, too. Do the right thing. Register today.)

Thank God for People Like “Harriet”

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

It isn’t often that someone who is neither an adoptee, first parent, nor an adoptive parent “gets it” about adoption, but sometimes they do. Here’s someone who does:

Every adoption that occurs is a black mark on the humanity of the rest of us, because every adoption represents parents who were unable to acquire the assistance, resources, or community necessary to raise their children or plan their families. ~ “Harriet” who writes at www.fugitivus.net

If you have tender ears, please be advised about the language content on her blog – she’s real, she’s raw, and she uses language that you aren’t going to hear in a Relief Society lesson. Be forewarned but also know that what she has to say is terribly important.

Take the time to go read that blog post. You will be glad you did.

Much love,

M.

P.S. THANK YOU Ask an Adoptee over at Facebook for pointing me to this important and provocative blog post!

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.

 

Lola and Me, Lola and I, Me and Lola

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Whew. Glad that is all over.

I am so happy to write that Lola and I have made our peace. I am even happier to write that it is not that uneasy, “You go your way and I will go mine” kind of peace that is typically brokered between two parties in situations like this.

It is the kind of peace from which friendships may form. The kind of peace when two people say, “Come now, let us reason together. We are better than this.” The kind of peace that does not make much sense to others, but makes perfect sense to us.

Lola has graciously offered some of us space and time on her blog to answer questions from her readers.  Mind you, the questions are most likely all going to come from LDS readers who have spent their entire life being preached to about the miracle and blessing of adoption.

Most of them have never encountered an adoptee who has had nothing but glowing things to say about the “miracle and blessing” of adoption. Most of them have never encountered a first mother who has anything to say other than what a “miracle and a blessing” adoption is in her life. The reason why is that we first mothers and adoptees in the LDS culture are simply not allowed those feelings. If we dare express them, we get the smack down of the century from well meaning, but unknowing folks who are just trying to help us see the error of our ways and convince us yet again that adoption is a “miracle and a blessing.” But you probably already know that. Here I go again, preaching to the choir.

Some of the things we may say will be very foreign to their ears and heavy in their hearts and we must tread lightly but speak our truth.

I know that is how it was for me.   When I first started learning about things like primal wounds, baby brokering, and how adoption was woman on woman violence, I was horrified to realize that I had been part of the system – I was a part of the system. That I inserted you, my beloved and cherished daughter, into the system. Realizing the fantasy I had about adoption being a “miracle and a blessing” for all those involved was really not as true as I once thought…well, it was earth shattering.  And it was a bitter pill to swallow.
You know that whole “gall of bitterness” thing that Alma talks about in Alma 36? Yeah…that was me. That was so me.

I do not know how the Q&A session on her blog will turn out.  These are difficult things to hear and learn. Not only that, most people I have known who speak out against infant adoption as we practice it in the LDS church get shouted down fairly rapidly (and loudly). Maybe Lola will not. She has proven to have the mettle to stand firm in the face of some pretty unpleasant stuff.  And maybe because she does not have “a dog in the [proverbial] hunt,” people will be more willing to listen to her.

You can be sure I will keep you updated.

Much love,

M.

It’s Time to Try Defying Gravity

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

It seems that I set off a firestorm yesterday, unintentionally. I am not the type of person to go around picking fights with people and anyone who knows me would agree with this. After all of the happy-happy joy-joy adoption is such a gift and and a miracle blogs I have digested in an honest effort to understand where the typical LDS adoptive mother is coming from, if I really wanted to pick a fight about LDS adoption I could have and would have. But I don’t because as anyone who knows me would attest – that’s not how I roll. But…

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

Yesterday, Lola/Laura made several statements that really struck a chord with me. No, I am not talking about the personal attacks on my motherhood, my parenting, or my life – those I can frankly forgive because it is the standard party line response to any woman who dares to step out of line and speaks up about the pain adoption has caused. It is not just first mothers who encounter this, but enlightened LDS adoptive parents who understand that yes, their eternal family is built upon the ashes and remains of another family. It isn’t that these adoptive parents go around wearing sack cloth and ashes and rending their coat, but they at least acknowledge and accept this reality.  These kinds of adoptive parents are frequently met with the same vitriol that first mothers are when they dare question the status quo of infant adoption in the LDS community.  So, to make a short statement long – I don’t take those kinds of attacks on my parenting ability or familial relationships personally.

But back to the statements that did get me thinking. Towards the end of her first response, Lola/Laura said:

CLEARLY, you will continue to suffer as long as you continue to fight and rage against something that can never, and will never be different.

It’s the basic equivalent of being angry that humans have to breathe or that, I don’t know, gravity exists.

Don’t rage against what is. You will lose every time.

With this attitude of equating adoption with breathing and gravity, is it any wonder that Utah County has the highest surrender rate in the nation? Is it any wonder that many LDS first mothers feel marginalized or belittled by their culture? Is it any wonder that so very many of those LDS first mothers end up leaving the church in the long years post-placement? This attitude of “Don’t rage against what is. You will lose every time” is an all-pervasive belief that is riveted on the hearts of many LDS people.  As first mothers, both pre-surrender and post-surrender, we are met with this attitude on every front: Give up – it will never, it can never be different. You will lose very time.

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

I wonder if this the same attitude that many of our black brothers and sisters were met with pre-1978 when they attempted to discuss the Priesthood. Were they told the same things? Were they told give up – you not having the priesthood is just like breathing or gravity. It will never, it can never be different. Stop raging against what is, you will lose very time.

In response to Lola/Laura’s comment, I wrote this:

However, you are right. Fighting for change in LDS adoption is like fighting against gravity. But just like we humans have been able to “slip the surly bonds of earth” and peer into the galaxies, I believe change can and will happen. The ability to defy gravity started with one apple and one man who was willing to look at things in a different way. It will be the same with LDS adoption. One apple, one person, one voice willing to speak out.  It might take 304 years before the equivalent of the moon landing happens in the LDS adoption world but change is happening, as evidenced by the changes in the official Handbook. Hopefully it won’t take that long but if it does take 304 years? It’s OK because in the end, time doesn’t matter to God.

I know I will be met with the sentiment as I try to defy this generational gravity in the LDS adoption culture. “Can’t I make you understand? You’re having delusions of grandeur” (Glinda, Wicked, the Musical) is pretty much what I was told yesterday. But that’s OK. Really. I cannot go back to sleep, anesthetized by the adoption fog that mercifully protects first mothers those first five or so years post-placement. I am fully awake and aware of the challenges and resistance I will encounter. However,

I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down.

As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity

Much love and belief in your own attempts to defy gravity –

M.

P.S. Lola/Laura: I am grateful for your comments and for the opportunity to clarify my stance and position on this subject. Like I said before, I hold no ill-will towards you personally. I am sorry that it was such a confrontational encounter yesterday and I hope that today is a better one all around.

(Note: All quoted lyrics are from the song “Defying Gravity” in Wicked, the Musical.)