Another Head Scratcher

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I recently came across this conference talk given by Elder Russell M. Nelson in 2010. In it he says,

“Every human being who comes to this earth is the product of generations of parents. We have a natural yearning to connect with our ancestors. This desire dwells in our hearts, regardless of age….When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.” (Nelson, 2010.)

Once again, I am quite perplexed.  The top leadership in the LDS church understands that we have “a natural yearning to connect with our ancestors.” However, many adoptive parents and members of LDS church still think that an adoptee wanting to reconnect with these “generations of parents ” is aberrant behavior.

Adoption does not erase the generations of natural/first/birth/whatever you want to call it parents that came before that child. Connecting with those people changes us and helps us understand how we fit into a larger existence.

If an apostle of the Lord understands this, then why are so many LDS adoptees treated poorly by the general church membership when they decide to search for their first families?

With many more questions than answers tonight,



Nelson, R. M. (2010). Generations Linked in Love. Ensign, May 2010. p. 91-94.

I Double-Dog Dare You, Brother and Sister Arnell

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I have a friend, a newly formed first mother who is still in the tender, fragile first year of post-relinquishment. Over on her blog “My Story”,  an uber-helpful man in her life, “Brother Arnell,”  has posted several comments to which I simply had to respond. I really should be writing my dissertation, but this just keeps getting stuck in my brain and I am afraid if I don’t write about it, it will continue to block my progress on what I should be doing. So here is the comment that I have had a hard time digesting:

I didn’t realize that as a man, husband and father of six I might be so clueless about parenthood as some of the respondents seem to think, so I asked my wife who has (among all our children) 52 years of 24/7, one-on-one, day-and-night mothering experience (not to mention pregnancy, labor, delivery and miscarriages) and who, for what it’s worth, knows something of the heartache of broken families. Her response: “Conception, nine months of pregnancy and 3-36 hours of labor do not a mother make – motherhood requires a lifetime of service.” (Brother Arnell, Feb 21, 2011;emphasis mine)

I would like to issue a challenge to Brother Arnell and his wife: I challenge them to look into the eyes of the mother of a child that was stillborn, the mother of a child who died in early infancy, the mother of a child lost to a miscarriage and I DARE them to tell that woman she is NOT a mother because she did not serve her child for a lifetime. I challenge them to look at that mother in the eyes and speak those same words they just said to Kara: “Conception, nine months of pregnancy, and 3-36 hours of labor do not a mother make – motherhood requires a lifetime of service. In fact, I issue this challenge to ANY PERSON who thinks the ONLY requirement for motherhood is serving a child for a lifetime.

I challenge them to look into the eyes of Abby’s mother and tell her she is NOT a mother because Abby passed within hours of being born. (Be prepare and have lots of Kleenex on hand if you follow that link….). I challenge them to look into the eyes of my friend here on base, who lost her lovely 9-month old daughter to a tragic illness two years ago this month. I DARE them to tell her she does not qualify to be called MOTHER because she did not serve her sweet daughter for a lifetime. I challenge them to send Curtis’s mother an email telling her that since she did not spend a lifetime serving him as he was stillborn at 40 weeks gestation, that she is NOT a mother. I dare them to look into my sister-in-law’s eyes and tell her that because my sweet nephew, her only son, died at 5 months gestation and she did not get the chance to serve him “for a lifetime” that she is NOT his mother. (Just do not do it while my brother is around or they might end up in a headlock with 190 lbs of angry on top of them).

I think you would agree that treating these mothers of loss this way would be absurd and I doubt you would find one single person who would take me up on that challenge (but maybe Brother Arnell would like to try it anyway?).

So why is it that mothers of loss (to adoption) are treated soooooooooooooo differently? Why is it the public assumes that we do not grieve, that we do not suffer, that we do not ache to hold our lost child just one more time as much as these women? Why is it that my friend, even two years later, is still having people bring her meals around the anniversary of her daughter’s passing and people still stop and hug her at the mailboxes and wipe her tears away? Why is she afforded that but I am not? Why am I told I should just get over you? I know it has been longer than two years for us, but I highly doubt that in 16 more years, my friend is going to have anyone say to her, “It was so long ago, just forget about her and move on already, will you? You have other children – stop crying about the one you lost.”

One of the things I find the most perplexing in this whole adoption transaction is that it is presumably  based on the deep and abiding love a birth mother has for her child. We (I) love our child so much that we gave her (you)  “more.” However, once the adoption is final, that deep and abiding love that moved us to make such a “selfless choice” no longer matters and some people feel that it no longer  (or should not) even exist.

And then you get people like Brother Arnell and his lovely wife who state that because I did not spend a lifetime serving you, I am neither a mother nor do I deserve the status of “motherhood” decreed up on me.

So if I am not a mother, then what am I Brother and Sister Arnell?

Much love,


Another head scratcher

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

The more reading I do about adoption – birth mother blogs, adoptee blogs, adoptive mother blogs, adoption agency websites, news articles, books, and scholarly journals, the more “head scratchers” I come across.   Those unexplained, unexplored paradoxes of adoption rhetoric, kind of like the stuff from the other day about modern progressive scientific thought and Mormonism. You know, those things that just leave you going, “Huh???? Did I really just read that?”

Here’s my most recent head scratcher from the adoption world. These quotes are from a website called “AdoptHelp: Giving the Gift of Family.” In particular, they are from the section for single parents. As in single people who are potential adoptive parents. Not single parents who actually birthed the child. That information is reserved for the section “Pregnant?” This stuff is directed at singles who want to adopt kids.

“Concerns over single parent adoptions should be laid to rest by the many benefits single parents have to offer children in need of a home.”

“Single parents approach parenting adoption with the same commitment and devotion as a married couple. There is no reason to discriminate against a single person for parenting adopting a child when she/he is quite capable of providing a stable and nurturing environment. A single parent can provide a loving and nurturing home for a child. Adoptive single parents use family and friends for extended support. They give their child their full attention and all of their love.”(Strike-throughs my addition.)

“The latest research indicates that children raised in single adoptive parent families compare favorably with other adopted children and show a healthy involvement with friends and family as well as in the activities of their age group.”

So wait a minute…

When I found myself pregnant and single, I was constantly warned of the horrors I would inflict on you if I raised you as a single parent: poverty, abuse, you would be more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs,  be depressed, you would have fewer social skills, etc., etc., etc. You know, all that research. I was told that if I really loved you, I would relinquish you for adoption and that if I was truly a good parent, I would do what was “best” in your interest.

But this adoption website is saying “the latest research” indicates that single parents aren’t so bad after all so go ahead and adopt – single parents make just as good of parents as married ones.

Now I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, I readily admit, but…I don’t get it. (This is where the head scratching comes into play).  It wasn’t OK for me to actually give birth and parent you as a single mother because that would cause irreparable damage to you,  but if I had adopted you then it would have been OK?

My intent is not to argue the merits of single parenting mind you (well, actually maybe  a bit. It was only 4 year after I relinquished you that my temple marriage to a seminary teacher came apart at the seams and I found myself a single parent all over again. Frankly, I was an incredible mother during that time period of my life, in spite of what that research says. But that is beside the point right now.) What  I am trying to point out is that on one hand, this website says, “Single parents are great!!!” but on the other hand, they say to pregnant mothers who are single “You can’t be a good enough parent because you are single.”

The more I read, the more perplexed I become.  And as much as I don’t want to admit it, it is becoming more and more apparent that much of infant adoption is driven by money – who has it and who doesn’t. Who can provide a college education for a child and who can’t. Who can take the child to Disneyland and who can’t. And yes – no joke – on one blog I read this morning, who can buy a child a pony and who can’t.

I guess in my defense I just want you to know that every decision, as faulty as it was and as poor as the advice I was given, was based on love for you.

While I can’t undo what has been done or un-close an adoption that was supposed to be open, I can find refuge in the shadow of the cross and in the arms of a loving God. He tells me that today, today I don’t need to unravel the paradox of adoption. Today I just need to know His sure provisions attend me all my days and that today, His mercy and grace are enough.

They are always enough.

Much love and belief,