She Asks for Bread

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Hmmmm….This sounds a lot like the LDS church and the LDSFS’s treatment of single expectant mothers. It also parallels the church’s teaching that adoption
“blesses” the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity and that it should be considered a gift to all involved. Sacred, even.

Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your heritage, your ancestors, your people, and your mother for eternity, thanks to the sealing ordinance? Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your child, your future grandchildren, and your descendants for eternity?  Is having your existence expunged from history, a complete and total annihilation of your motherhood – from a legal and a doctrinal point of view  – really a gift?

Most of us with any heart or conscience would say no, those are not true gifts nor are they blessings.

Yet these are the gifts and blessings a Mormon god and his people give the most vulnerable of among the church, single mothers and their newborn children. She asks the Mormon god for bread, but is given a stone instead.

After all, she got herself into this mess. She can live with the consequences.

Love is Banishment

What goes by the name of love is banishment,
with now and then a postcard from the homeland.
– Samuel Beckett, First Love

I came across this Beckett quote in my reading earlier this week. I immediately thought of all my friends who are adult adoptees, the ones who have taught me what is feels like to live a life different than the one they were born into, a life manufactured by social workers, bishops, adoption brokers, grandparents, and most painful of all, their own mothers – regardless of how well intentioned she was or how much her choice was motivated by love. These adult adoptees are the ones who, with patience and honesty, have taught me the deep pain of growing up banished to a strange and foreign land, even if they came to love their adopted homeland and its inhabitants with a profound love.

Beckett’s words sting this mother’s heart. They re-open wounds I have come to accept will never fully heal.

It is true, I banished my daughter from her homeland in the name of love. I fell prey to the LDS church’s carefully crafted and well-planned “Adoption: It’s About Love” campaign. You know, the one created by Steve Sunday (currently on the Board of Directors for the National Council For Adoption) in partnership with Bonneville International and their copyrighted “HeartSell”® advertising techniques.

Trusting, believing, and naive, I was led like a lamb to the slaughter with my daughter in my arms. And then, in the name of love, I sacrificed my own mother-heart when I placed my firstborn child on the altar of adoption, LDS-style.  Twenty-two years later, I am still asking where was our ram in the thicket? Where was our delivering angel? Why weren’t we worth saving?

To some, it doesn’t matter my motivation or what extreme social and psychological pressures I was under at the time to “do the right thing.”  To some, all that matters is I had “free agency” to make my own choices, to which I ask, “Did I *really* have “free agency,” considering what I had been taught growing up and the social and religious coercion that was in play at that moment in time? Did I really have “free agency” when HeartSell techniques were being used to influence my thoughts and actions? Can “free agency” even exist in such a religiously manipulative and coercive environment? Can “free agency” *really* even exist within the patriarchal power differential that exists between a LDS bishop (who happens to also be a social worker well-versed in the NCFA “good mother/birth mother” rhetoric) and a young unwed 20-year old mother?”

But none of that seems to matter to some. The fact (the truth) remains: Regardless of my motivation or the reasons, I banished my daughter to the land of the adopted ones. Consequently, I am a persona non gratis into the eternities, at least according to LDS church doctrine.  My heart tells me differently, common sense tells me differently, but the religion of my youth tells me she is lost to my family for the eternities, because of a “loving” God and the sealing ordinance.

Love is banishment, with now and then a postcard from the homeland.

 

 

 

“Choice” and The Proverbial Loaded Gun

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

As many natural mothers can attest, one of the common arguments used against us in our effort to process and heal from adoption loss is, “No one held a gun to your head and made you sign the papers. You did that all by yourself.” This line is usually delivered dripping in disdain and with a sneer curling up around the corners of the mouth of the person speaking it.

As many natural mothers can also attest, they are technically correct. For most of us, no one was standing beside us in the judge’s chambers or in the hospital or wherever it is we signed the paperwork. We were all alone. There wasn’t someone with a .45 cocked and pointed at our temple.

Or was there?

I came across this quote over Christmas and have been ruminating about it ever since.

“An overwhelming preponderance of evidence on either side would make our choice as meaningless as would a loaded gun pointed at our heads.” ~ Terryl Givens, 2012 (The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life, p. 7)

An overwhelming preponderance of evidence. A loaded gun. A choice rendered meaningless (but with lasting consequences, I might add), as if a gun was pointed at my head.

Sound familiar? This is EXACTLY what Latter-Day Saints Family Services (AKA LDSFS), the NCFA, Bethany, and all of those other adoption “advocates” do when presenting the adoption “option.” They present a preponderance of evidence of why adoption is such a “gift,” why “it’s all about love,” yet they rarely discuss – and certainly not with any great form or substance – the potential for horrific side effects to a mother’s and her relinquished child’s psyche.

Do they ever give the expectant mother the research articles about how adoption will affect her? Her child? Her future children? Her future relationships? Her ability to trust others? Her ability to trust herself? Do they ever give her statistics about neonates and how they respond to their mother’s voice, scent, movement? How they recognize and prefer their mother’s breast milk and body odor? How their heart rate and blood pressure normalizes when they hear their natural mother’s voice? How their brain lights up to the sound of her talking to them? (This research is out there, BTW. It has been for decades and simply because adoption agencies or social workers don’t acknowledge it or talk about it doesn’t render the studies invalid.)

It is true, some agencies do give a head nod to negative outcomes in the form of offering FREE LIFETIME COUNSELING for relinquishing mothers, but it is highly unusual for a social worker to go into any great detail why that mother might actually need counseling services until she is old and wrinkled. Frankly, many expectant mothers who are in a position to be considering adoption are not in the frame of mind to ask the question, “Why would this agency be offering me FREE LIFETIME COUNSELING if I give my baby away to someone they’ve have decided is more qualified than me?” Most expectant mothers considering adoption never consider the reality that agencies offer FREE LIFETIME COUNSELING to relinquishing mothers because agencies and the people who work in them know the mother will need counseling for the rest of her life.

Let me repeat that again, just to make sure I am clear: adoption agencies and the social workers in their employ, such as the ones at LDSFS, know, and have known for decades, adoption will damage a mother so badly she will need to utilize mental health services for the rest of her life. They know, and have known for decades, she will not get over her lost child. They know, and have known for decades, she will not move on, at least not in the clean and sanitized way they would like her too and tell her she must – within a year. They know these things yet they do not tell her this explicitly. They simply tell her “if she needs them” the services are there. In doing so, agencies do not provide balanced, truthful information to the expectant mother about the long-term outcome of adoption.

Agencies such as LDSFS and organizations like NCFA present information and have single expectant mothers engage in exercises that research has shown will be most likely to convince a woman to give her baby to strangers. They shove information at her on a weekly basis to remind her of what she lacks, of her deficits and shortcomings as a human being and a mother. If this doesn’t work, they call her on the phone and they keep in constant contact with her via text or email. They encourage her to meet the people who will be de-mothering her, to build a relationship with them so she will feel guilty if she backs out because she doesn’t want to hurt this perfect, qualified couple who so desperately wants her baby. The information and tactics used by LDSFS and NCFA supports their best interests, financial, sociological, or otherwise (i.e., securing a commodity to be traded to the “qualified” couple willing to pony up the money at the appropriate time).

In total, the practices and actions of LDSFS, the social workers in its employ, church leaders, and the LDS adoption culture leads to the preponderance of evidence Givens spoke of in his book. If he is correct in saying that presenting an overwhelming preponderance of evidence on only one side is no different than holding a loaded gun to a person’s head when they are trying to make a choice, then I guess I did have a loaded gun pointed at my head.

Like I have said before when quoting Woodie Gurthrie, “Some people rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” It just so happened to be the fountain pen was in the hands of church leaders and my culture at large.

Take care –

M.

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.

Am I right or am I right?

Sit back, grab of a cup of hot cocoa and be prepared for a long read. Hopefully there is something of value in this letter.

Yesterday was a watershed day for me in many ways.  I did not write about everything that transpired, but let’s just say it was real, it was raw, and it was needed.  Let me also say I am eternally grateful for a loving, compassionate, and wise husband who loves me – all of me – even the real and raw parts of me.

One of the things I spent the day wrestling with God over was this issue of the “doctrine” of adoption that Sister Beck spoke of at the LDSFS/Families Supporting Adoption conference in August. This struggle with God went on all day – I ended up neglecting many of my responsibilities around the home. God bless Jeff  – literally – for coming home, putting his arms around me and holding me tight, then doing the dishes, making dinner, giving the wee ones baths and putting them to bed all while I stomped around behind him, jabbering and frequently cursing about all of this. There are few men finer than Jeff in this world – if more men could be like him, there would be a heck of a lot less sadness and heartache.

So back to Sister Beck and what she had to tell all those folks at the conference in August. This is what she said:

“The Atonement of Christ brings us that covenant and makes us heirs with Him, so that we have the same inheritance that He has with our Father,” she said.

It is through making covenants that individuals are adopted into the kingdom of God.

“It is very doctrinally based,” she said. “We believe in literal adoption, the literal gathering of bringing people into that covenant. … [Beck, J. (2011). “Rooted in Love.” As reported in Church News 20 Aug 2011].

Now maybe my version of the scriptures is different than hers. I highly doubt it since I have double checked to make sure I am using the most current edition of the LDS standard works, but…. The stuff I remember reading about covenants and the Atonement is about being born again through the blood of our Savior, the waters of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Last night, as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep, one of the last thoughts I had was, “God, either she is right or I am. We can’t both be right. Either we are adopted into the kingdom of God or we are born into it through the waters of baptism and the blood of Christ.”

When I got up this morning at 5:00 a.m. to take my older son to early morning seminary, I spent about 15 minutes reading in the Book of Mormon. The daughter of one of the ladies I Visit Teach is turning eight years old in October and  issued a challenge to the ward members to read the entire Book of Mormon by her birthday. I took her up on the challenge and have been reading about 10 pages a day in the wee small hours of the morning as Captain Knuckle gets ready to leave.

This morning, this verse was on the very first page I read:

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7)

Hmmm. It seems pretty clear in this particular verse from a scripture of the restoration. Begotten. Born. Because of the covenant. Is it just me, or am I not seeing adoption anywhere in that verse?

This led me to search out other scriptures (yet again) about the Atonement and becoming a son or daughter of Christ. This is what I found

“But as many received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 KJV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:3, 18-19)

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world…” (1 John 5:4)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 KJV

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7, KJV)

“And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters…” (Mosiah 27:25)

“…preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again.” (Alma 5:49)

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experience this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)

“Now I say unto you that ye must repent and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God…” (Alma 7:14)

“I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.”(Alma 36:23)

“And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and the of the Spirit– (D&C 5:16)

“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.” (Moses 6:59)

[An aside: I looooooove that it was Moses, a late-discovery adoptee, who was given the clearest explanation of what being “born again” entails.  God tells this man, this adoptee who has most likely spent a lifetime struggling with his identity, that to become a son of God, he has to be born again, just like he was born physically. To this prophet/adoptee, God clearly states that the process of sanctification from all sin is one of RE-BIRTH, not adoption.]

I think any reasonable, thinking adult can see those scriptures all point to being born as the way we become sons and daughters of Christ. However, even after reading all of them this morning, something in the back of my mind was bothering me. Sister Beck specifically said that adoption was “doctrine.” If it is doctrine, then certainly it must be found in the scripture, yes?  So I turned to “The Guide to the Scriptures” found on the www.lds.org website, and read this:

Adoption

The scriptures speak of two types of adoption.

(1) A person who is of non-Israelite lineage becomes a member of the family of Abraham and the house of Israel by having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized by immersion, and receiving the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 31:17–18; D&C 84:73–74; Abr. 2:6, 11). (my emphasis)

(2) All who have received the saving ordinances of the gospel become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ by continued obedience to his commandments (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 3:24–29; 4:5–7; Mosiah 5:7–8).

Interesting. Both of these instances point back to being baptized as the process through which people are “adopted” into the household of faith.  But…..didn’t all of those scriptures I just found tell me that ordinance of baptism is about being born again? And just a second there. Mosiah 5:7 is being used as a reference to support “adoption” as being the way that we become children of Christ?  Gosh, I could have sworn that it said very clearly we are born again.

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7)

Oh yeah. It does say “born of him” NOTHING about adoption.

So then I clicked through to the link “Children of Christ.” This is what I found.

Children of Christ

Those who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child is greatest, Matt. 18:1–4
  • Believe in the light that ye may be the children of light, John 12:36
  • Put off the natural man and become as a child, Mosiah 3:19, Mosiah 27:25–26
  • Because of the covenant ye shall be called the children of Christ, Mosiah 5:7
  • If ye will lay hold upon every good thing, ye certainly will be a child of Christ, Moro. 7:19
  • As many as received me, gave I power to become my sons, D&C 39:4
  • Fear not, little children, for you are mine, D&C 50:40–41
  • Thou art one in me, a son of God, Moses 6:68

Darn it all, there are those “pesky” words again: Begotten. Born again. Born of God. Sons and Daughters of God. No adopted.

Then I clicked through to:

Sons and Daughters of God

The scriptures use these terms in two ways. In one sense, we are all literal spirit children of our Heavenly Father. In another sense, God’s sons and daughters are those who have been born again through the atonement of Christ.

Dang it all, Sister Beck! There those words are again!!!! Atonement. Begotten. Born again. Born of God. Children of Christ.

Essentially, what I discovered this morning is the basis for claiming we are “adopted” into Abraham’s family is because we enter into the covenant of baptism, allowing the Atonement to take effect in our lives….which is clearly the process of being BORN AGAIN.  Which is not adoption. Ask any adoptee. Adoption and being born are two very separate things.

______________________________________

As I wrestle with this issue this morning, the only thing I can come up with is that members of the church play loose and fast with the word “adoption,” using it as a metaphor for being “born again.” Maybe I just need to get my proverbial doctrinal panties out of a wad and just go with the metaphor of adoption = being born.

But I can’t.

I know the difference on a very intimate level, much like Moses. Adoption is not a sufficient metaphor for the very real, very visceral, very messy and difficult process of being born again, of becoming a child of Christ. The Book of Mormon tells me very plainly that I am born again, made a new creation in Christ. It is another witness to what the Holy Bible teaches me about who I am and to whom I belong. The Book of Mormon, side by side with the Bible, clearly testifies I am born into the household of faith through the waters of baptism, the blood of the Atonement, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Born. Not adopted.

There is no other way. (John 14:6; D&C 132:12)

Much love,

M.

A Letter I Wish I’d Gotten

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I came across this letter this morning, written by Coco over at “Grown in My Heart.” It comes too late for us, but maybe it will reach some mother who might be considering making an adoption plan irrevocable mistake because she has been convinced by her culture and religious leaders that she will never be a good enough mother to her child.

http://www.growninmyheart.com/a-letter-i-wish-id-gotten

Much love,

M.

http://www.growninmyheart.com/a-letter-i-wish-id-gotten

To Bishop F: Thanks for Everything!

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

That last two times I spoke with your mother (last June/July), she asked me if I had been in contact with Bishop F. recently. (In case you didn’t know, he was my Bishop at the time I relinquished you for adoption, the one who urged me “that it is never too late to do the ‘right’ thing” and spent many hours convincing me that you deserved so much more than I could ever possibly offer you. He is the one who arranged your adoption – he had been your parent’s neighbors for years and….well, I trusted him. Any time I had concerns, hesitations, or did not think adoption was the right thing for us, he deftly and expertly talked me out of it, as well-trained social workers in the adoption industry are taught to do (and can even get continuing education credit for it, too! How sweet is that? Thanks National Council for Adoption for providing well intentioned social workers like him with the tools necessary to convince a vulnerable but extremely capable young mother that she was a big fat pile of steaming poo and that she would potentially “destroy” her daughter’s chances at success in life if she parented!!!! Thanks, NCFA, for teaching people to prey on the weaknesses of the most vulnerable among our citizenry, all in the name of love. Huzzah for infant adoption training, eh?).

Bishop F. was the one who reassured me it was “just the abuse” talking and the best way to prove I was a “good” parent and “truly loved” you was to relinquish you for adoption. After all, adoption is about love, you know and birthmothers are good mothers (implying that single mothers who choose to parent are bad parents). He was one of the people who urged me to remember the mother in King Solomon who would rather have another woman raise her child than to see her child perish. He just forgot to tell me the rest of the story and I was too stupid/naive/trusting to go do my own research and to trust my own mothering instincts.  (Side note: He is also the same one who convinced me to dump Mr. Amazing Man because he was told “old” for me – ha. Joke is on him, eh?).

At any rate, the last time I spoke to your mother, I told her I had not talked to Bishop F. since I had gotten divorced in 1997 (when he called me to urge me to work out my marriage to my ex-husband.) But every time your mother asks about him, it feels like a litmus test of some sort, as if she is wants to know if I have kept him up to date so he can judge whether I am a good person or not or am “safe” enough to have contact with at this point.

So when it came time to send out graduation announcements, I sent one to your parents. When I sent theirs, I took a deep breath also sent one to Bishop F., along with a letter. That way if your mother ever asks if I have contacted him, I can answer in the affirmative. The following is the letter I sent along with it (obviously names and places have been changed).

April 14, 2011

Dear Bishop F. –

Not sure if you remember me, but I am M., Ms. Feverfew’s first/birth mother. I know it has been many years since we communicated but I just thought I would update you on how my life has unfolded.  I think the last you may have heard from me was when my then husband, The Ex and I were going through a divorce in 1997.

During that same time, I had been called to testify against my biological father for his abuse (he eventually went to prison). I testified against him on a Friday and the following Monday, The Ex asked me for a divorce. Fortunately, my very wise and knowing Bishop at the time knew far more than I did what was actually going on in The Ex’s life. He advised me to file for divorce and loaned me the money to do so. Within a short time period after it was final, The Ex ended up marrying my therapist’s 18 year old daughter, leaving me a single mother with a darling blue-eyed, dimple cheeked 8-month old little baby boy.

After the dust settled, I went back to school full time and worked a graveyard shift at a disabled adult care facility so I could provide for my little one and get a degree at the same time. It worked out well for little son and me  – my sister took care of him overnight while I was working and I was able to get homework done while my clients slept.  I graduated summa cum laude with my BS in Psychology from Utah State University in 2000 and immediately went on to a MS program in Instructional Technology there.

About this same time period, my mom remarried a wonderful man, my New and Improved Dad. He eventually adopted many of my siblings and myself, even though we were all adults at the time. He is the father that I was promised in my Patriarchal blessing all those years ago and has been such a miracle in all of our lives.  My parents live in a sleepy little town at the south end of Cache Valley and it is there that I now call home.  My mom has gone on to be a successful author and writer. One of her books was used for many years by LDSFS as the resource in their drug and alcohol recovery program. Eventually, she was tasked to write one specifically for the church with a friend of hers, which is the one in current use by the church. She and my New and Improved Dad recently co-authored another book specifically for the spouses of people who are struggling with sexual addictions in the LDS culture.

In the fall of 2002, I married the love of my life and this year will mark our 9th anniversary. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be married to a man so exquisitely matched to my unique needs.   I am certain that God brought him into my life to help me overcome the challenges I have faced and to accomplish the things the Lord has set before me. Perhaps you remember him – he was the tall, dark haired green-eyed Special Forces soldier I was dating fairly seriously at the time you were my Bishop, just after the H.’s adopted Ms. Feverfew.

I finished my MS degree in 2003 and have had two more lovely children. Our son is six years old and is a wonderfully challenging little one to parent. He has a keen intellect and a command of the English language well beyond his years.  I simply adore him and am so grateful God sent him into my life! I was also blessed to have a baby girl early last May. We named her after her two grandmothers. Needless to say, she has brought untold amounts of joy to our little family. The boys are a completely head over heels for her and her daddy is utterly smitten with her.

I am nearing completion of my PhD in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State and will be graduating in May of this year. Yes, that means I took comps, defended a proposal, and finished a dissertation all while having a nursing baby, a grade-schooler, and a teenager – crazy, but true!!! I will graduate on May 6th, four days before our little girl’s first birthday.

I felt strongly prompted by the Lord to return to school and earn a PhD and in 2006, the way was made clear to do so. Mr. Amazing Man had started another two-year deployment schedule and so I moved back to Logan with the boys to complete course work. When I had completed the course work and Mr. Amazing Man’s deployments came to an end, we joined him at his current assignment. It has been a tremendous amount of work but I have held fast to the knowledge and conviction that I have been on the Lord’s errand as I earn this degree. It has been the only thing that has sustained me as I have balanced the demands of research and academic writing with being a mother.

We currently live in the Tidewater where we are active members of our ward and have enjoyed the wonderful history in the area.  My fascination with the history and the area has only deepened as I recently discovered my maternal grandmother’s side of the family is entirely peopled by Tidewater residents of the oldest order (thank you FamilySearch.org!) I have multiple direct ancestral lines that can be traced back to charter members and early settlers during the 1610s and 1620s.  Not only that, but also many of my direct ancestors stayed in this general vicinity for the last 400 years!  Finding this out has only heightened my love and attachment to the Tidewater area and the people I have grown to know and love.

As much as we love this area we will be moving  in July. My husband’s work with the military requires we move every couple of years, meaning we are always making new friends and having new adventures. Captain Knuckle will be entering the 9th grade and so we hope to stretch the assignment into a four-year gig so he can finish all of high school in one place. Mr. Amazing Man will be doing a lot of deploying, which means I get to be a “sort of single parent” again. Fortunately, it has gotten easier as the years have gone by. Parenting Captain Knuckle on my own for nearly six years and then managing Mr. Amazing Man’s multiple deployments with two boys and graduate school has taught me I do not need to be afraid of what challenges life might bring my way. God always provides a way.

All in all, life has turned out to be sweet and good, despite its challenges. I hope all is well in your life – I would love to hear from you if you get a chance.

Sincerely,

M.

Naturally, I have not heard back from him. Or your parents.

Not that I am expecting too, but to be honest, it would be nice to be acknowledged that I exist.

I think I handled things fairly well in the letter, don’t you? Especially considering this is the man that I trusted so implicitly (as was only natural – he was my Bishop and a father figure to me during that time period). I think I did a fairly decent job of not telling him exactly what I thought of his craptastic advice to (a) relinquish you for adoption, (b) dump Mr. Amazing Man all those years ago, and (c) get back with my ex-husband when that marriage hit the rocks.  Good thing I finally listened to my heart and to common sense. Otherwise I just might still be related to my ex-mother in law and that makes me shudder!!!!  All in all, I feel I did a very good job bringing him up to date with the happenings in my life and hopefully he will give the thumbs up of approval to your parents. Hopefully the letter convinces him that I am not some raving lunatic crack whore birthmother who wants your parents money or to usurp their position of authority in your life.

Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if I was that kind of woman instead of the stable, settled, well-educated, successful normal mother and wife I have become. Then at least I would fit the LDS cultural stereotype of a fallen woman and it might be easier for everyone to “deal” with me. As it is, no one knows quite what to do or say.

Much love,

M.