I’m Not into Banning Books, but Some Books Need to Go Away

A while ago, a dear friend asked if I had a particular book in my personal library. I emphatically told this friend NO, I did not have it and exclaimed this book should just go away. I am not typically into banning books, but there is one book in particular that will NEVER be on my shelves ever again.miracle_forgivenessMore than any other book I have read or will likely read in my lifetime, this book was the catalyst to the near-destruction of my already broken heart. It was a death-knell to my spiritual, emotional, and mental health. In my “old age,” I am not shy about telling people how I feel about this book and the devastating effect it had in my life, damage that reverberates through generations and into the eternities.

Back to my friend, though.

After I told her I didn’t have the book, she borrowed it from another church member who did have it. She read it, then reported back to the bishop about it. My friend also mentioned to our bishop my feelings about the book, to which he replied I most likely felt that way because of past sins or errors in my life. Setting aside the breach of trust and confidentiality on both my friend and bishop’s part, I felt a need to explain myself and perhaps illuminate his understanding about the damaging nature of this book.

I share with you parts of the letter I wrote to him regarding my strong feelings about this book and its effect on my life [edited for grammar, because I was in a bit of a tizzy when I wrote it]. Perhaps it might help others understand the cultural context and time in which my lost daughter was conceived and born.

When I look back on the string of events in my life, beginning in August 1989 when my sister died until April 1993 when I signed the TPR, I am astounded I survived.  Especially with ecclesiastical leaders like I had at that point in time, leaders who blamed me for rape and didn’t believe the abuse allegations, either. Leaders who told me  relinquishing my daughter for adoption was an outward sign I had truly repented of premarital sex, who said if I *really* loved her, I would let her go to a two-parent home. Leaders who told me I was being selfish for wanting to raise my daughter.

I think it is fair to say I *totally* lost the leadership lottery, LDS-style, over and over and over again during those years.

______________________________________________

Dear SW –

[My BFF] told me that she talked with you yesterday and shared with you how I feel about the book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” She then reported you said I felt that way because my past sins and mistakes made me feel “uncomfortable” with it (or something like that). I wanted to clarify my negative feelings towards the book have NOTHING to do with MY past sins and mistakes, but EVERYTHING to do with the message sent to rape and incest victims.

Let me set the scene for you: My natural father molested me. In Young Women’s, when virtue was discussed as a value, THE VERY FIRST scriptural reference is one regarding the rape of Nephite women (see https://www.lds.org/young-women/personal-progress/virtue?lang=eng as well as Mormon 9:9).

Now, our ADULT brains and reasoning can understand that whomever selected a scripture about rape causing a loss of chastity and virtue for THE VERY FIRST REFERENCE didn’t intend to harm, but merely to make an illustration. However, as a young woman who had suffered mightily at the hands of my father who “deprived” me of my chastity and virtue, this cut like a knife and sent a message that I HAD DONE SOMETHING WRONG by allowing it to be taken from me.

Fast forward three years. I was 17. The Relief Society President’s 27-year old son raped me. My sister had just died and my parents marriage was imploding with the revelation of my father’s sexual abuse of his daughters, so I turned to a man I thought I could trust for help, my bishop. Do you want to know what he did? He didn’t call the police. He didn’t report the man for rape of a minor. He didn’t tell my parents. He put ME on probation and had ME read “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” His reasoning was that I MUST be responsible for my “part” in the rape. Imagine the soul-crushing effect it was to read these words, penned by a not-yet-prophet:

“Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest….It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.” ( p. 196)

“President David O. McKay has pleaded: Your virtue is worth more than your life. Please, young folk, preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives.” (p. 63)

“…one should give his or her life rather than to yield to loss of virtue.” (p. 66)

So…according to [Spencer W. Kimball, eventual prophet and leader of the LDS church,] I should have DIED before I “let” my father molest me. I should have DIED before I “let” a 27-year old man rape me.

Just to make sure the message was driven home that I WAS AT FAULT FOR THE RAPE, I was not allowed to graduate from seminary and I was also denied my Young Womanhood medallion, even though I had done EVERYTHING to earn it and had done NOTHING wrong except willed myself to LIVE instead of dying from the abuse and rape.

It has taken YEARS of therapy to forgive that bishop and to forgive myself for being a naive and trusting 17 year old. Obviously I should have gone to the police instead of my bishop with the rape. Instead of reading the Miracle of Forgiveness, a rape kit should have been done. Instead of banning me from seminary graduation and denying me my medallion, I should have been testifying against the man who raped me. But none of that happened because in that book, a not-yet-prophet said I should have died instead of “letting” my virtue be FORCIBLY TAKEN FROM ME. This same thinking is what lead Elizabeth Smart to stay with her kidnappers until she was rescued. She had been taught the same things, taught the she was a chewed piece of gum and should have fought to the death before she “let” that man rape her.

My adult mind now understands virtue is NOT the same as virginity. My virtue – or in other words my goodness, righteousness, morality, integrity, dignity, honor, decency, respectability, nobility, worthiness, and purity – CANNOT be forcibly taken from me or from any other rape or molestation victim. The book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”  **VERY** plainly says that it can and THAT is what I take exception to. [Those passages perpetuate] the fallacy that if a woman is raped and lives to tell about it, she was asking for it and is somehow at fault.

Sincerely,

M.

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It’s the Same Old Song: People Say the Darndest Things, Part II

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I saw this come across the news the other day. It’s an article titled, “Kaepernick’s birth mother speaks of trying to connect with son” by Katie Dowd.

(Photo by Seth Perlman/AP)

As you can imagine, the article is about the 49’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick and his “not-real mother,” Heidi Russo.  You know the pretend one that just birthed him, like any old brood sow could do?  Yeah, that not-real mother. (Sorry about the snark this early in the morning. I don’t have my filter on yet.) I decided to highlight some of the comments left by readers, just in case anyone was wondering if people’s attitudes about not-real birthmothers/birth mothers is any different once the child is a grown adult. (If you are busy this morning, I can sum it up so you don’t have to read all the comments: Nope, nothing changes in people’s attitudes about not-real mothers if those not-real mothers have waited a lifetime to reconnect with their now-adult children.

Enjoy with a cup of strong brew this morning (and perhaps a barf bag).

M.

P.S. I’ll save my personal commentary so others can draw their own conclusions about the comments.

Linky-loo to original article: http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/12/05/kaepernicks-birth-mother-spea/

“… Back off and clam up, lady. He moved on 25 years ago, and it’s time for you to do the same.” (outa_here 9:39 AM on December 6, 2012)

I’m wondering if she really has an ulterior motive and is attempting to only get to know him for financial gain…” (
mbonhamwolv 4:18 AM on December 6, 2012)

“It’s sleazy of the media to give her a platform for self-promotion at his expense.” (plano453 7:59 PM on December 5, 2012)

Hey Heidi, Colin is not your son, and you are not his parent.” (BlockHead2u 7:52 PM on December 5, 2012)

“…did she have permission or approval from adoptive parents when she went to visit him during college days????????????? (michol0808 5:34 PM on December 5, 2012)

A birth mother is not the same thing as a Mother.” (MsWest 4:53 PM on December 5, 2012)

“Hey Colin? Maybe you should tweet this to her. You had a chance to be part of my life but you bailed.” (hoosier1 4:33 PM on December 5, 2012)

“…she has a pair of brass ones to describe herself as a “parent” when she hasn’t actually done any parenting.” (finnlandia 2:09 PM on December 5, 2012)

I wonder what she needs the money for.” (dr_mojo 2:09 PM on December 5, 2012)

“OF course she wants to renew her relationship. HI son, it’s your mama, can I have some money. I really didn’t mean to give you up.” (R8derMan 2:05 PM on December 5, 2012)

“… you are no more his mother than any other female posting on these pages.” (nixonstheone 1:47 PM on December 5, 2012)

“GOLD DIGGER ALERT! Lets welcome the newest 49er gold digger…NOT! How nice it is to seek some fame now that her son is famous. This loser probably now wants everyone to know that she is his “real” mother. Some people have no shame. (sloan111 1:27 PM on December 5, 2012)

“…outside of biology, she probably didn’t shape any part of what Colin is today. That’s from his “real” parents.” (d2010 12:43 PM on December 5, 2012)

He know’s [sic] who his parents are and it ain’t you Heidi Ho and I use Ho loosely !” (boise49ers 12:10 PM on December 5, 2012)

Maybe she’s angling for a book deal. Title “How I got rid of my baby boy, but now want him back since he’s a big $tar” (
sanfran126 12:05 PM on December 5, 2012)

Piece of work that lady…. FYI: You are not his parent, you gave birth to him. The folks that adopted him and raised him, are his parents!” (Apetez 11:40 AM on December 5, 2012)

Oh my gawd. You are not his parent. You gave up that right.” (wahwah 10:40 AM on December 5, 2012)

People Say the Darndest Things: What Some People **Really** Think About Women Who Place a Child For Adoption

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

A while back, there was an article in a paper about an open adoption that for all intents and purposes, seems to be “working” (whatever that means). These are some of the comments left by readers about the birthmother (her choice of words, not mine) who believes she made a “loving” decision to voluntarily terminate her parental rights because she was single, and for no other reason. Mind you, these aren’t the things people say directly to a woman who has lost a child to adoption (which are hurtful enough as it is), but behind her back and under the cloak of anonymity on the Internet.

I stopped collecting comments after the first day or so – I didn’t have the stomach to pursue it further at the time. But now…now I do. So, if you don’t mind, I think I will keep adding more of these little gems as I encounter them, and not necessarily from the original story. I will even start including screen captures and links back to the original content when possible. Nothing like full attribution to shine the light of day on this kind of stuff, eh?  I’m sure there are enough similar published-in-public-spaces-sentiments to fill an entire book.  A large one, maybe even a multi-volume set.

Take care –

M.

” Any moron with a working set of reproductive organs can create, carry, and birth a child… Squeezing out a baby doesn’t make you a mother any more than putting together a bookshelf from Ikea makes you a master furniture builder.” ~ Guy Incognito

“birth mothers aren’t the type of people who should be around little kids regardless of their genetic relationship” ~ El Conejo

“There’s nothing wrong with having an open adoption and then closing it…” ~ Ron W., adoptive father

I wouldn’t even consider an open adoption.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think it’s in the child’s best interest.  Furthermore, it really rubs me the wrong way that the birth mother gets to outsource all of the responsibility but be there for the happy moments. ~ EdDebevic

Sorry, but the mothers who took responsibility didn’t give their kids away. They sacrificed and raised them. This kind of dump or responsibility is slap in the face to real parents.…Shes married now and I’m willing to bet she has another child… which is weird to me, if you can be a mom a few years after your first one, what was really the dilemma in the first place? Simply not being married? Its a cop out, and yes, she is just getting the best of both worlds. ~ macciatos

Giving up your child… is a complete cop out. You give up all of your responsibilities, basically dump your child off on someone else so that you don’t have to make the sacrifices. It isn’t brave and I don’t feel like it is something that should be cherished or encouraged. ~ macciatos

what a selfish arangement [sic]. ~ fudgemonkey1

I personally don’t think a contract would have been helpful in my situation. If the contract had forced visits or emails on me, I think that may have pushed me to insanity! (HA!) ~ adoptive mother

Well. That Sucked.

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

After “coming out” on FB yesterday about being a mother who has lost a child to adoption, I knew the ward Christmas party this evening would be hard, *especially* since my Relief Society president is an adoptive mother, the bishop has two adopted siblings, and one of my friends is an adoptive mother of three girls, all of whom live in the ward. We are all friends on FB and I know they all read what I wrote about how adoption has affected my family and me. One of her daughters, I’ll call her Jane, was in charge of the Christmas party tonight. Jane is also married to the 1st counselor in the Bishopric and the daughter-in-law of the Stake President (so her husband in the Stake president’s son).

Anywhoooo, I was tempted not to go but I had made a commitment and I was going to follow through with it. And really – what had I done other than told the truth about my life? Is that such a crime? I fully intended to go and have a good time with my children. I had already practiced what I would say to anyone who wanted to talk to me or ask me questions. I thought I was ready to handle “it.” But I guess I wasn’t.

I was the first one to show up to help in the kitchen. There had been some others there but they had all left to go caroling so all of my stuff was already inside. I had cooked a 16 lb turkey, made two 9×13 pans of sausage & cherry dressing, four dozen Lion House rolls, 100 homemade marshmallows, had brought seven dessert/cake stands, five gravy boats, and 15 cloth napkins to line all of the roll baskets. Obviously, I was committed to helping out with this party in any way I could. I was waiting outside the doors when she and her husband pulled up. I said, “Hi Jane! What can I do to help? Put me to work.” Both her and her husband (the 1st counselor in the Bishopric) looked straight at me and then walked right past me into the church, never even acknowledging me. I might as well have been a breeze blowing through the parking lot.

I went into the bathroom, cried all my mascara off, tried to calm myself enough to drive home without crashing, and then left.

I knew this would happen when I told people about you. It’s why I haven’t said anything to most people at church for nearly 20 years.

I am not sure I am going to make it to church tomorrow. Maybe I will go to the beach instead. At least people won’t judge me there. Well, they might judge me if I were to wear a really skimpy bikini because I haven’t seen the inside of a gym in about three years but at least they won’t judge me because of what I did 19 1/2 years ago.

Much love,

M.

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,

M.

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 3, Part B: “You are not allowed to come to church anymore because you are an idiot”

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I know, I know, I know. Once you get me talking I just can’t seem to shut my mouth!  This will be a short Part B though, I promise.

I was perusing good LDS bee-mommie blogs and came across a real gem of a statement on one of them. I guess that LDSFS holds “Husbands of Birth Mothers” information nights where boyfriends/fiance’s of those good bee-mommies get to go and ask questions of what it is like to be married to one of those kinds of women.

I guess one of the things they talk about at these discussion panels is the now-husband’s response to finding out his supposedly virginal and untainted love of his life had *gasp* “been sexual and gotten pregnant with another man’s baby” and how he had worked through forgiving her for what she had done.

Uh….really?

I rubbed my eyes hard. I took a deep breath. Uh…ummm…he has to forgive her for what???? Isn’t this whole forgiveness issue for something that happened before they met between her and her maker? He then went on to say that “I chose to forgive her but I did tell her that eventually her past will come back to haunt us.”

Haunt? Her past (which is a human being, BTW Mr. Husband of a Birth Mother, not a ghost or a figment of your tainted rose’s imagination) is going to come back and haunt them?????? Gosh, that kind of attitude has gotta make every adoptee’s heart sing.

I jumped up from my computer, made a beeline for my husband and said, “Mr. Amazing Man, you won’t believe what I just read!!!!” I then told him and he was just as agahst as I was.

Then he said one of the most fantabulous lines ever uttered by a righteous, loving, (and dead sexy) husband: “There are sometimes I wish I could just tell people, ‘You are not allowed to come to church anymore because you are an idiot.’ And that guy is an idiot.”

I sure hope you find a man like Mr. Amazing Man some day.  He’s…well, he’s amazing.

Much love,

M.

Now I Have Heard it All

Dr. Ms. Feverfew –

So us mothers put up with a lot of crap from people who are either to dumb to know better or to mean to care how various labels may effect a woman who has lost a child to adoption. I have been referred to as everything from a mildly noxious “birth mother” to a patently offensive and derogatory  “breeder.”  Today though…today I was called something that is so sickening I want to vomit.

She called me a brood sow.

Yes, a potential adoptive mother referred to me as a brood sow.

Now I have heard it all.

Love,

M.

P.S. Just had to add that one of the brilliant ladies on the forum that came to my defense had the best response: “So you are content being just a plain old sow then?”  Still laughing over that one!