National Adopton Month 2015 ~ Saving Our Sisters style #NAM2015 #flipthescript

In response to the excessively adoptiveparent-centric calendar created for NAM 2015 by the group “The Adoption Exchange,” I give to you this:

SOS_NAM2015

If you don’t know about the 501c3 organization “Saving Our Sisters,” you should! It is a grassroots network of mothers of adoption loss and family preservation activists helping expectant and new mothers and their babies avoid the trauma of adoption relinquishment. You can read more about it on the Saving Our Sisters Facebook page or make a donation through the CUB website’s donation page (donations are tax deductible).

“But The Proclamation says. . . .”

Recently over on Facebook, one of my friends (whom I will call Jennifer) posted a link to a blog written by an adoptee. Jennifer then invited her friends to read it and truly listen to what this particular adoptee says about their experience of being an adopted person.  Subsequent to Jennifer’s impassioned plea for more listening to and less telling adoptees how to feel about adoption, one of her friends (whom I will call Maria) countered with the LDS-knee jerk response of, “But the Proclamation* says children are better off with a mother and a father!”

Here’s what I wrote in response to Maria:

I agree that a mother and a father who are sealed to each other and neither partner has ever cheated on the other *IS* the ideal situation in which to raise a child. The Family: A Proclamation to the World clearly states: “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” However, we live in a fallen world where sometimes, we don’t get the “ideal” or even that to which we are entitled (to use the language from The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Sometimes, a parent dies. Sometimes parents get divorced. Sometimes parents who are sealed in the temple and married fail to live up to other covenants.

Do you have any of those situations among your own family and friends? Do you have any siblings, cousins, parents, uncles or aunts, or friends who passed away or got divorced, leaving behind the other parent to raise children as a single parent? Have their been any cases of infidelity in your family? (You don’t have to really answer those questions in this public space, I am just asking you to relate this to your own life).

If we, who claim to be God’s people, are to fully implement The Family: A Proclamation to the World with absolute exactness, then the LDS church should urge *every* parent who is single for whatever reason (death, divorce, etc. – not just single expectant parents), parents who are not sealed to their spouse (part member families), or a parent who has cheated or been cheated on by their spouse “do the right thing” and place their child(ren) for adoption in a home that has a mother and a father who are sealed in the temple and and have never participated in infidelity of any kind. After all, it clearly states children are “entitled” to this kind of home.

However, both you and I both recognize this to be a laughable suggestion, that EVERY parent who is single, not sealed to their spouse, or has been cheated on should relinquish their child(ren) for adoption to a sealed-in the temple couple. The push (social coercion) for single expectant parents to live to a different standard than all of the rest of the LDS membership is indicative of the black and white thinking our culture tends to engender. “There’s a right and a wrong to every question” sounds great in a hymn, but real life is a bit messier. There tends to be grey areas in which we have to use common sense, compassion, and our judgement.

Socially engineering a substitute “ideal” through the removal of a child from their biological kindred is NOT ****always**** the answer. Indeed, even the LDS church recognizes this. One of their primary arguments against same-sex marriage is, (as they state in their recent amici curiae), “Both social science and our own experience have taught that children thrive best when cared for by both of their biological parents.” This position is rather ironic considering the LDS church’s stance on urging single expectant parents give their infant non-biological people to raise.

I love this church with all my heart, but this is one of those areas where efforts to socially engineer a substitute “ideal” comes in conflict with some of our fundamental beliefs about the centrality of family and the importance of family preservation through genealogy and temple work.

I don’t know how this Gordian knot will be unraveled, what I *do* know is it is duplicitous of us, as the Lord’s people, to say “Biological family matters!!!! They matter so much we spend MILLIONS of dollars a year helping people seek out their biological kindred dead. Family matters, except in the case of those girls who get themselves pregnant, then biological families don’t matter to her, the father, OR their baby and she should give their baby to a couple who is sealed in the temple because, after all, that child is ‘entitled’ to parents who are sealed in the temple and don’t cheat on each other.”

Family matters. Mothers and fathers matter. Children matter. None are interchangeable, even when a parent is single (for whatever) or not sealed to their spouse.

Scotland the Brave

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Today is the 182nd Annual General Conference for the LDS church. You already know that, but I suspect you probably weren’t listening to any of the talks today. Don’t worry – it’s OK. I believe in a God that is so large and loving that he won’t condemn you if you miss conference. Even if you miss it for the next couple of years, He will still love you and adore you and think you are one of His most spectacular creations. Trust me, I know this first hand.

Anyhoooo, one of the speakers, Elder David S. Baxter – a member of the Seventy from Scotland, gave a brave and fearless talk in the afternoon session directed specifically towards single parents in the church (here’s a link to watch it – he speaks at about the 1:00 mark: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch/2012/04?lang=eng&vid=1538843401001). Now I know some sticklers will say, “Well, he wasn’t an apostle so his talk doesn’t count nearly as much” but…but what he has to say is still very important and worth listening to. Or reading. I have transcribed the entire talk and have include parts of it here (obviously, the emphasis is mine…). Elder Baxter starts out by saying,

“My message is for the single parents in the church, the majority of whom are single mothers, you valiant women, who through the varying circumstances of life, find yourself raising children and running a home on your own. Perhaps you have been widowed or divorced, you may be coping with the challenges of single parenthood as a result of taking a wrong turn outside of marriage, but now living within the framework of the gospel, having turned your life around.

(Just had to insert a note: This is the first time in any church meeting I recall hearing single mothers who are single because they got pregnant outside of marriage included so specifically in the counsel to single parents. Usually they “qualify” single parents as those who are single because of divorce or death. The rest of the single moms are treated like…well, one only need read these letters to discover how they are usually treated).

Bless you for avoiding the type of companionship that would come at the expense of virtue and discipleship; that would be far to high a price to pay.

Although you may have at times asked, “Why me?”, it is through the hardships of life that we grow towards Godhood as our character is shaped in the crucible of affliction, as the events of life take place while God respects the agency of man.

Whatever the circumstances or the reasons for them, how wonderful you are.

(There is is again – whatever the circumstances or the reasons for them. Death, divorce, or a mistake outside of marriage. Kind of reminds me of what Elder Cook said when he was quoting President Hinckely about single parents who are single for whatever reason…)

Day to day, you face the struggles of life doing the work that was always meant for two, but doing it largely alone. You have to be father as well as mother.

You nurture your children. You cry with them and for them. You want the very best for them but fret every night that your best may never be good enough.

He then tells of his own mother who raised him for most of his childhood and teenaged years as a single mother. They were poor and she struggled with loneliness.

…yet despite all of this, there was a dignity about my mother, a tremendous sort of determination, and sheer Scottish grit.

There are many of you good women across the church in the world who face similar circumstances and who demonstrate the same resilience year after year.  This is not exactly what you hoped or planned, prayed for or expected when you started out years ago. Life has had bumps , detours, twists, and turns, mostly as the result of life in a fallen world that is meant to be a place of proving and testing.  Meanwhile, you are striving to raise your children in righteousness and truth, knowing that while you cannot change the past you can shape the future.

Along the way, you will obtain compensatory blessings, even if they are not immediately apparent. With God’s help, you need not fear for the future.  Your children will grow up and call you blessed and every single one of their many achievements will stand as a tribute to you.

Please never feel that you are in some kind of second tier subcategory of church membership, somehow less entitled to the Lord’s blessings than others.  In the kingdom of God, there are no second class citizens.

Thank you sisters, for doing all that you can to raise your family and maintain a loving home where there is goodness, peace, and opportunity. Although you often feel alone, in truth you are never totally on your own. As you move forward in patience and faith, providence will move with you, heaven will bestow its needful blessings

Through your righteous living, you and your children may enjoy the blessings of  being part of a complete eternal family. Member and leaders, is there more that you could do to support single parent families? Without passing judgment or casting dispersions,  might you mentor young people in these families?….In the absence of fathers, are you providing role models worthy of emulation?

Single parents, I testify that as you do your very best in the most difficult of human challenges, heaven will smile upon you. Truly, you are not alone. Let the redemptive, loving power of Jesus Christ brighten your life now and fill you with the hope of eternal promise. Take courage, have faith and hope. Consider the present with fortitude and look to the future with confidence.

Now stop and think for one moment how different our lives would be if we had been met with this kind of compassion, this kind of understanding, and this kind of counsel when I first went to LDSFS. Think of how different our lives would be if this was the counsel Bishop F. had given me in February/March of 1993 instead of the standard NCFA-party line about “good mother = birth mother” and that I was being selfish for parenting you.

Actually, I can’t think about it too long because then I just dissolve into a puddle of tears. I know I can’t change what happened to us, I can never get you back as my daughter. But I can spread Elder Baxter’s message of hope to all that have ears to hear and hearts to understand. And perhaps some other family will have a different outcome than you and I. Perhaps some other single expectant mother who was listening to conference today heard the words of Elder Baxter and heard they are a valid family in the eyes of the Lord, that they needn’t give their precious child away to qualify for the blessings of the Gospel in their family life.

Much love,

M.

Dear Person Who Found this Blog by Searching for “Can I Force My Minor Daughter to Give Up Her Baby for Adoption in Utah?”

Dear Person Who Found this Blog by Searching for “Can I Force My Minor Daughter to Give Up Her Baby for Adoption in Utah?” –

Are. You. Serious??????

I am going to try really hard to be as gentle as possible but I must admit, I am shocked a parent would search for an answer to that question on the Internet.  I would think a little prayer, a little fasting, a bit of long suffering and patience would give you better results than typing such a question into a search engine. (BTW, the answer would be NO, you can’t force her to do it, nor SHOULD you force her – at least according to the God I worship and the scriptures I read. Consult D&C 121:41 if you need a reminder).

I can only imagine you are an LDS mother, extremely concerned with avoiding the appearance of evil (something we Mormons are so keen on doing – it’s all about appearing perfect, isn’t it?), maintaining the status quo, and fitting in with the other ladies at Relief Society. You probably don’t know any other women whose daughters have faced a crisis pregnancy and you are just doing what you think you should be doing, what the culture there in Utah tells you that you should be doing.

I implore you to carefully read this blog in its entirety to see what she has in store for her, should she relinquish her child. To carefully read “Thinking of Placing Your Baby for Adoption? Think very hard” found over at [Birth Mother]First Mother Forum. Then go over to Cassi’s blog, Adoption Truth and read everything she has written there, then read every blog she had linked to on the side bar. Then go read every single post at Lost Daughters and every single blog that is linked to it to discover what your grandchild’s future will look like. Read “Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience” and “Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness”, both by Betty Jean Lifton. Read “The Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier, “The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption” by Barbara Bisantz Raymond, and “The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Industry” by Mirah Ruben. And after that, read every single memoir you can read written by a natural mother and an adoptee. There are so many good ones out there, take your pick, just start reading. Yes, it might take some time but you have a few months, right?

And then when you are done with all that reading, ask yourself, “Am I the kind of mother that would want to force this life on my daughter and my unborn grandchild? Or is there something I can do to help my daughter become the mother God has ordained her to be when He sent her this baby at this point in her life? What can I do to help her feel supported, loved, and capable? What can I do to preserve our family?”

If you can come to a knowledge of the true toll adoption extracts from natural mothers and adoptees and still ask, “Can I force my minor daughter to give up her baby my grandchild for adoption?” then you and I are simply cut from different cloth. Simply put, we worship different Gods, even if we belong to the same church. If you still want to force your daughter to give your grandchild away, then we are not of the same religion. My God teaches me that pure religion is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their need. Not to remove the fatherless from their mothers under the guise of the “loving option of adoption.”

In the meantime, I will pray for you that your heart will be softened and that you will allow mercy and grace to have a place at your family dinner table. More importantly, I will pray for your daughter and your unborn grandchild that they will find someone who will love them and support them, regardless of how they ended up in the situation they are in (a la Quinten L.. Cook and President Hinckley’s counsel at two different conference sessions).

Sincerely,

M.

P.S. Be sure to read Job 24 about what happens to people who pluck the fatherless from the breast. Something about corn being cut down and stuff like that.


What is Missing

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are frequently accused of trying to earn our way in to heaven through our good works and righteous behavior, as opposed to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

I can see how many believe that; even some within our own church preach we have to earn our way into heaven. After all, we teach a person can’t be saved by grace alone, right? It has been hammered into the devout Mormon’s head throughout years of Primary, Young Women’s, and Relief Society. Grace has become a four letter word in the Mormon culture* because it is our good works that save us! Good works, good works, and more good works are what get us in to heaven!!!!

Blech. I can totally see how other Christians look at very busy Mormons, busily working our way to salvation and say, “What about grace?”

So what about grace? Yesterday, I watched a devotional given by Brad Wilcox on July 12, 2011 titled “His Grace is Sufficient” that pretty much sums up what I have learned about grace. It can be seen at http://byutv.org/watch/49475abb-10d4-4f45-a757-7000b9945468 .

I loved when Wilcox says,

“Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. Its about filling us. Jesus…paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

It is finished. What a beautiful phrase, full of mercy. Of grace.

Wilcox’s talk has set me to thinking about the issues of justice, mercy, and grace as it applies to single expectant parents in the LDS church. For too long, single expectant parents have only been treated with the hand of justice.  This heavy hand demands perfection – perfection in families, perfection in people – and punishment when we fall short.

Frequently when a young LDS woman falls short of perfection and finds herself single and pregnant, our culture* demands she pay the price for her sins: marriage or relinquish her baby. Any other option is considered selfish and of putting her “wants” about a child’s “needs.”   The implied principle is through the “good works” of relinquishing her child, she shows she is willing to pay the price for her sins.

But the miracle of the Atonement – the miracle of grace – teaches us that Jesus Christ has already paid that price. His grace is sufficient to cover us – all of us. However, many single expectant mothers in the LDS culture are treated as if grace stops short of their front door. They are treated as if grace doesn’t pay the price for them in full, just like it does every one else.  We require the single expectant mother to prove her repentance by either marrying the man that got her pregnant or paying the ultimate price, by placing her broken heart, her mother’s love, and ultimately her child on the altar of adoption. Only then do we declare the demands of justice have been satisfied.

So what is missing in this equation? Grace.

The kind of grace that steps in and says, “It is finished. Jesus paid the debt, in full.” The kind of grace with bounty enough to enfold a mother and her growing child in the arms of merciful love, sheltering her from a culture that clamors for justice in the form of a hasty marriage or adoption. Grace, which whispers in a young mother’s ear, “You are enough.” The kind of grace that sits with a young mother while she labors her baby into the world and places the babe, still slippery with her mother’s blood and amniotic fluid, into the arms of her mother, not the arms of a more “qualified” woman waiting to take custody of this newest member of the human race.

What is lacking in the LDS church grace that takes a young mother by the shoulders and looks her squarely in the eyes and says, “Yes, this is scary and this will be hard, but you are ready to be a mother. With me, you are ready.”

This same grace then turns to the rest of us and looks us squarely in the eyes and says, “Love her. Support her. Help her become the best mother she possibly can. Help her learn and grow in the gospel of love” (see Elder Quinten L. Cook’s conference address from April 2011). This is the same grace that then leans close, takes us by the shoulders and whispers in our ear, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Yes, grace is what is missing. Justice we have plenty of. Self-righteous foot-stomping by people who have done it “the right way” and “deserve” a baby we have plenty of.  What we need is grace. And lots of it.

____________________________________________

*Please note I said culture, not doctrine. There’s a BIG difference between the two in many instances. Unfortunately.

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 8: Let Me See if I Can Be Perfectly Clear About This: God DOES NOT DO ADOPTION (Unless of course, the adoptive grandfather is trying to kill the child, then God makes an exception)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Making the rounds out there on the internet is this video. Take a moment and watch it.

Sounds all well and good, right? We are a bunch of orphans, plopped on this little ol’ planet and God loves us so much He adopts us into His family.  Because we are trying to be like God, then we must adopt the orphans of the world to save them from a multitude of woes.

Wrong.

The truth of the matter is this: We are already God’s children. It is impossible to “adopt” something that is already yours. (Please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: Paul’s Version for further discussion about the word “adoption” in the Bible; also please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t” (Or in other words: A question for Fred Riley of LDS Family Services) for a better understanding of how we LDS folk view our relationship to God).

The scriptures are an epic love story. They are the story of a Father’s love for his children and the extreme measures He goes to bring them back from their wanderings. He never ceases to search for us. He never quits loving us regardless of the fact that we have “sold ourselves for naught.”  In fact, He loves us so much He sent his first born, his Only Begotten Son in the flesh to pay the ransom for the rest of His children – to atone for our sins and redeem  us from our spiritual bondage (please refer to the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: He’s Into Being Born Again for further elucidation about this reality). Not to adopt us. To redeem us. That is why our Savior Jesus Christ is known as the Great Redeemer. Not the Great Adopter.

The video I have linked here uses three specific examples from the Bible to illustrate why adoption is “God’s heart,” namely, the story of Moses, the story of Esther, and the preservation of the Messianic line through Joseph’s supposed adoption of Jesus. (I have already discussed the fallacy of this belief in the post God Doesn’t Do Adoption: The Jesus Was NOT Adopted Version, but let me just reiterate one more time: Joseph was Jesus’ STEP-FATHER. I personally feel that misrepresenting this righteous, loving, and protective step-father as the adoptive father of Jesus is near heresy but that’s just my personal opinion. Joseph should be held up as the supreme example of what it means to be a loving step-father, not an adoptive father.)

I know that many Christians like to use the Moses story as an example of why adoption is such a great thing and I guess, if you follow the story all the way through, it is a great story about adoption. (Well, other than that part about Moses returning to his adoptive grandfather’s household years after killing an Egyptian and then calling down the 10 plagues of Israel onto his adoptive family’s kingdom, culminating with the first born of every household dying and then a whole bunch more of his adoptive family dying when they were drowned in the Red Sea. I guess that part isn’t such a great example of adoption, is it?)

Moses’s story starts off when his PAP sees how many Israelites there are and starts to get worried about the sheer number of them. A decree is set forth that the Hebrew midwives have to kill the Hebrew babies – when that doesn’t work, the Pharaoh orders all Hebrew male children tossed into the river.  This is the political environment Moses was born into – his death certificate had already been issued by his future adoptive grandfather before he was born.  His mother hid him (and nursed him) for three months, then put him in the river. His older sister followed along so she could offer the services of her mother as a wet-nurse to whomever found baby Moses.  Their plan worked wonderfully – the Pharaoh’s daughter found him, gave him back to his natural mother until he was weaned, then took Moses into the palace as her own son.

As we all know, with the killing of a “fellow” Egyptian Moses eventually rejected his adoptive family and culture. This precipitated his flight into the wilderness where he then spent 40 years learning of his true identity and heritage. While sojourning in the wilderness, Moses was reunited with his natural family and in this act, God’s heart is revealed: God is totally into family preservation. Eventually, Moses returned to his adoptive father’s palace, this time in his true identity and name – he returned to speak Truth to power and demand that his people be set free. His people – the Israelites, not the Egyptians.  Hmmm…now that I think about it I guess that would make Moses an angry, ungrateful,  bitter adoptee according to a lot of adoptive parents I know.

In case you missed it: the reason Moses was put into the basket and floated down the river was because his adopted grandfather had issued an order to kill him. So yeah, I guess God does do adoption in RARE and UNUSUAL circumstances where the life of the child is at risk.

Now the story of Esther being “adopted” is even easier: BOTH of her parents had died. Her COUSIN took her in a raised her as his own daughter. It was a kinship “adoption” – that whole family preservation theme again. That being said, it wasn’t an “adoption” as we conceive it. Adoption as we know it today (with the falsified and sealed birth records) is a purely modern legal arrangement that simply did not exist under Talmudic law. In Talmudic law, blood relations were all that mattered. Mordecai raised her because he was following the law of the land – orphans stay with their kin folk.

I have probably belabored the point by now.  I know I have very little hope of convincing any of my born-again Christian friends that God didn’t adopt us. Most won’t listen because *gasp* I am a Mormon. Frankly, I like the idea of being the literal child of God, created in image of my eternal parents. And frankly, that’s OK if they don’t listen to me. I still love them and think they are pretty interesting people.

Hmmm…just had an interesting thought.  Born-again Christians are the ones who most frequently use the “God adopted us” and “God’s heart is adoption” themes. Does anyone else see the irony in this? These folks claim to be born again (which is a good thing, BTW) in one breath, and in the next claim that God adopted them.  ?????? If they wanted more congruency between their name and their beliefs, perhaps they should call themselves “Adopted Christians” instead of “born again.”

Maybe it is just a little bit too late and I need to get some sleep. Maybe it won’t be so ironical in the morning. Is ironical even a word?

Much love,

M.

God Doesn’t Do Adoption ~ The King Solomon Version

A few weeks ago in Gospel Doctrine class, we covered  the wisdom of King Solomon.  One of the “talking points” of the class study guide is this: “Two women take a child to Solomon, who wisely determines which woman is the mother of the child (3:16–28).”

Judgement of Solomon

“Judgment of Solomon” by Gustave Dore

Now this story is of particular import to me because it was used as a scriptural example and justification for relinquishing my daughter for adoption. After all,  a “real” mother would sacrifice her own “selfish wants” to parent her own child. A “real” mother would love her baby so much she would let him or her be raised by some other woman. Within the past few days, this same reasoning has been applied again to the John Wyatt case – if he really loves his daughter, he would “do the right thing” and let her be raised by someone else who claims to be her parents.

Just to refresh your memory, I have copied the entire text of this particular scripture, straight from the LDS edition of the KJV Bible.

1 Kings 3

16 ¶ Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.

19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she aoverlaid it.

20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.

21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.

22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.

23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.

24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the awisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

.

An interesting bit of history:  this story is the first recorded and published legal decision in all of the history of legal jurisprudence.

Hmmm…. The first recorded instance of a legal decision has to do with family law. Interesting.

So we read the story and the class started discussing how brilliant Solomon was and what it must have been like for him to come up with his decision. But I, being the constant questioner, the habitual wonderer, the inquisitive child, went wait just a second. (Mind you, this was in my head – I don’t usually raise my hand in Gospel Doctrine to point out things like this because that would bring down the fury and wrath of the LDS culture upon my head for merely questioning a policy of the church – not doctrine – but a policy. If there is anything you DO NOT do in the LDS faith, it is question, even honestly, a strongly held cultural practice. I mean, have you ever tried to suggest that green jello might be good with something else other than shredded carrots in it or that gasp, it might be  good just all by itself? But I digress, back to the story.)

I thought to myself, “Did anyone else catch that?”  And I went back and re-read the story again. Yep. There it is. I flipped to the front of my scriptures to make sure I had the correct LDS-sanctioned version of the Bible. Yep, I do. I flipped back to 1 Kings 3. Yep, it’s still there.

Who did King Solomon, in the wisdom of God (see verse 28) send the baby home with?

Was it his natural mother?

Or was it the woman who was so desperate for a child that she was willing to steal the baby of another woman and lie about being that child’s mother?

Oh. That’s right. King Solomon was wise enough to see through the ruse of falsified birth records AND to send that child home to be raised by his NATURAL mother (verse 27).

But wait just a minute…wasn’t that natural mother a single mother???? Oh and waaaaaaaaaaiiiiittt a second here – wasn’t she not only a single mother, but a harlot as well (verse 16)?

HANG ON AN EVER LOVIN’ SECOND: The wisest man in all of God’s creation, in a decision that has been heralded throughout time as a brilliant move of legal jurisprudence, sent that baby home with a SINGLE MOTHER who was a prostitute???????

Certainly there had to be at least ONE woman in all of Israel that was married, wealthy, and childless who “deserved” to be a mother, who knew all of the basics of child nutrition and discipline, who had started saving for the child’s education, who had a support system in place that would exist for the next 18 years, who knew of all the community resources available to help her, you know – the kind of woman who could answer all the questions from LDSFS the “right” way. King Solomon probably had a lot of them in his court! Why didn’t he just tell the natural mother that if she really loved that baby, she would let some other (presumably) more righteous, more wealthy woman raise her son? It’s about love, you know, and if she just loved that baby enough, she would let him be  raised by someone else.

Because King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, understood the bonds of a natural family. King Solomon, in all of his wisdom, understood that societal position or wealth did not entitle one woman to take another woman’s child.

In the first recorded act of jurisprudence, the wise and brilliant King Solomon ruled in favor of family preservation.

So here is yet another scripture reference that I believed supported my decision to relinquish my daughter for adoption, but now with the clarity of the years, I realize it was telling me the exact opposite. In every case so far, except for Moses because he was about to be killed by the directive of his future adoptive father, God has ruled in favor of family preservation.

Oi. I think I need some Tylenol now.

Love,

M.

P.S. As an interesting sidenote, when you click through the link for the cross reference to “wisdom” in verse 28, it takes you to a scripture from 2 Ne 21:2 in direct reference to Jesus Christ, the Great Healer and Physician, The One who can mend a broken heart and a broken life.

“And the aSpirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of bwisdom and cunderstanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;”

Sooooo…the folks who do the cross-referencing with the Book of Mormon thought this instance of King Solomon’s wisdom which ruled in favor of family preservation was important enough to reference to the wisdom and understanding that Christ possesses.

Hmmm…interesting. Very interesting.

Can I have that white hot anger with a squeeze of lime, please?

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

The latest edition of the Ensign arrived the other day. This afternoon I read it. And then spent the rest of my day alternating between crying and being angry. Maybe it is just pregnancy hormones, but something tells me it’s not.

In this month’s edition, there is an article titled The Promise of the Temple. Smiling up from the glossy page is a picture of a near-perfect family: five beautiful children, a wonderful husband, and a glowing wife. The articles tells the story of a woman who married “outside the faith” and her journey back into full activity in the church, culminating in her family being sealed for all eternity in the Dallas Temple. For all intents and purposes, this is a good story – actually, a wonderful story of love conquering all, even the tragic death of one of her daughters.

However, I didn’t even make it through the first couple of paragraphs before I literally threw the magazine across the dining room and started sobbing into my half-eaten lunch. The article made me angry, so very very very angry.  And this is why: In the LDS adoption world, young mothers are told over and over and over again that one of the most important “gifts” they can give their child are parents who are sealed together in the temple for all eternity.  She is also told that she (as the single, unwed mother) simple does not qualify and will most likely never qualify for that privilege if she decides to parent instead of relinquishing her child. She is told that adoption through LDS Family Services:

“…ensures that the child will be sealed to a mother and a father in the temple, and it enhances the prospect for the blessings of the gospel in the lives of all concerned. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive family.” (www.lds.org under “Gospel Topics: Adoption“, emphasis mine)

But…but…but…but what about that woman in the article?  She wasn’t sealed in the temple when she started having children.  That means her children were just as “bereft of the sealing ordinance” as you were but for some reason…for some reason it was OK for them but not for you. Sure she was married, but she wasn’t sealed in the temple to her (at the time) non-member husband.

If adoption in the LDS faith is really about ensuring children being sealed to temple worthy parents, then why wasn’t she told by her Bishop to relinquish her young children for adoption?  By her own admission, she didn’t feel like living up to the standards to qualify for temple attendance at that time. According to LDS Family Services rhetoric, wouldn’t relinquishing her children for adoption by a temple-worthy couple have been the most “unselfish, loving  decision” for her to have done? If it was for me, then why not her too?

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Are her children any more precious and valuable to her than you are to me?   And why did this woman get the support she needed while parenting her children to help her family eventually attain the blessings of the temple but I never did while I was parenting you? Why was I told that relinquishing you the absolute best way to show that I loved you?

Like me, was she ever told that since her children weren’t “born in the covenant,” they would most likely never qualify for the blessing of being sealed to parents? You can bet she was never once told something like that – she was only offered encouragement, support and unyielding love from her leaders in her decade long journey to the temple as she parented her un-sealed children.

Why wasn’t I? Was she inherently more worthy than me? Were her children more special than you? I ask again: If relinquishing you to adoption so you could be sealed to temple-worthy parents was the most “unselfish, loving  decision” I could make simply because I could not provide you with that benefit at that time, then what about every woman in this church who has a child with a man to whom she is not sealed in the temple? Shouldn’t she be encouraged to relinquish her child(ren) for the exact same reason?

All of this leaves me wondering if adoption in the LDS culture is less about sealing children to parents than it is about something else. What? I don’t know. But it just seems so paradoxical that on one hand, the “right” of a child to be sealed trumps a mother’s right to parent but on the other hand, that “rule” isn’t universally applied to all mothers who have children.

Needless to say, my outburst startled the Professor and brought Mr. Amazing Man in from the library to see what was wrong.  Even Captain Knuckle turned off the Wii and peered over the back of the couch as I sat there and ranted. As always, Mr. Amazing Man said all the right things and comforted me in all the right ways (God bless him for that).  The Professor hugged me and told me that he loved me even though I was so sad and mad.

It was just what I needed right then: unconditional, unfettered love and support, regardless of my shortcomings. I just wish there had been more of it in my life 17 years, 7 months, and 18 days ago.

Much love and belief,

M.

God Doesn’t Do Adoption ~ The Jesus Was (NOT) Adopted Version

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Wanna know what really chaps my proverbial hide? The claim that “God chose adoption for Jesus”, ergo adoption is a holy, Godly thing.

Uh, Jesus wasn’t adopted folks. He was raised by Joseph, yes. But Joseph was his step-father. And guess what else? He was raised by his mother.

There was no adoption that took place. An “adoption” would mean that Joseph had publicly shamed Mary by telling the community that the child was not his and then married her any way and “adopted” Jesus as his own.  However, we know this isn’t what happened  (please refer to  Matthew 1:19-20 for the story of the angel appearing to Joseph and telling him he needed to wed Mary in spite of the fact that she was pregnant with some other individual’s child).  Because Joseph did the angel’s bidding and married Mary instead of “putting her away privily,” the locals all assumed that Joseph was Jesus’ “real” father. Remember, this was one of the locals big beefs with Jesus during his ministry on earth. They had a tough time accepting him as the Son of God because they had known him his whole life as merely the son of Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth.

But Joseph knew the truth. Mary knew the truth. And Jesus knew it as well.

Even at the tender age of 12, Jesus understood Joseph’s role in his life as his step-father. Remember that time Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus behind in Jerusalem after Passover?  After an entire day of travel, they realize he was missing & they could not find him among their extended family or his friends.  (Can you imagine their prayers that night? “Dear God – we seem to have lost your Only Begotten Son in the flesh.  You probably already knew that but if you wouldn’t mind, please keep him safe and let him know how much we love him. Amen. P.S. Please forgive us – we promise to pay more attention to his whereabouts next time we head into town.”)

Three days later they find him at the temple in Jerusalem, talking with the learned men who were astonished at his answers and his understanding.  Like any mother, Mary was upset with him about staying behind without letting her know where he was.  Now pay careful attention to Jesus’ response to his mother. He says to her:  “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

Not Joseph’s business.  His Father’s business. Jesus distinguishes the difference, even when others don’t.

(Side note: Isn’t it delicious irony that Jesus pointing out who his real Father is appears at the end of the very same chapter in Luke which the “Jesus was adopted” crowd likes to quote? There’s something so piquant about it, wouldn’t you agree?)

But back to the matter at hand. Even God appreciated and respected the mother/infant bond. He didn’t send his only begotten Son in the flesh to be raised by anyone other than his “birth” mother.   Certainly there were more “capable” women in Israel to raise the Son of God – someone married, more mature, financially secure and had a college fund set up for her future child, someone who knew all the ins & outs of child development, nutrition and discipline, had a support system that would be in place for the next 18 years – you know “worthy”  – someone who could answer all these questions the “right” way.  However, Jesus was not secreted away after his birth to be raised by another woman claiming to be his “real” mother. Mary raised him. Jesus stayed with his natural mother, his first mother, his mother.  With this kind of example of family preservation, why is it so difficult for some people to grasp the vital importance of attempting everything possible to preserve the original family unit – a mother and her baby?

If family preservation was in the best interest of the only begotten Son of the Father,  I think we are safe to assume it is in the best interest of all of His children whenever possible.

So Ms. Feverfew, when people start in with the “Jesus was adopted” thing, you can now discuss it with them logically and with scriptural backing.  God didn’t cho0se adoption for Jesus – God chose family preservation.

Much love and belief –

M.

P.S. And don’t even get me started with the “Well, Moses was adopted” thing right now.  That would take several chapters for me to address…