Someone Has to Face the Valley, Part 3: (Some) Answers

Dear Ms. Feverfew,

I am feeling pretty emotionally wrung out, like one of the old bath towels we would use to dry off after one of our daily water fights during the hot desert summers there in Utah. Invariably, just as I was almost dry enough to be let back in the house, a brother would turn the hose on me again, drenching me and the towel. I would enlist the help of one of my siblings to  twist is up like a pretzel, wringing out as much water as possible so I could try to dry off again. That’s kind of what I feel like right now. I am a frayed and faded threadbare towel, laying on the hot summer sidewalk after being twisted into knots.

The first half of the 50 minute session started with me explaining my background and then I started asking him some of the questions I had brought with me. That all ended  when I started asking questions about the counsel single expectant mothers are given in comparison to newly converted single mothers. With tears brimming in my eyes I asked him, “Why was I told it was selfish to raise my daughter but no one would ever consider saying that to a new convert who was single and had a nine month old daughter? What is so different about me and my daughter?” He tipped back onto the back two legs of his chair, crossed his arms and declared, “The church is not interested in justifying its position on adoption. I have a few things I would like to tell you, but I don’t think you would listen.” I said, “Try me.”

And then I sat pretty much silent for the second half as he proceeded to tell me what my problems were and how he felt he was qualified in fixing them.

So I will just hit the “highlights” of the visit with Brother O. and then digest them at greater length over the next few days.

Most Helpful Information:

  • Brother O. told me that the LDS church is looking to get out of adoptions entirely. He said they are going to start referring members who need adoption services to “private agencies”, Catholic Charities, or Lutheran Family Services. When I asked him why, he said, “Members are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the heavy subsidization of adoptions through the tithes and offerings.” While I suspect that has something to do with it, I also suspect the recent lawsuits of fathers who have had their rights trampled on by LDSFS and Utah adopters working their way through the court system there in Utah has a lot to do with it too.  Probably a lot more than any leader in the church is willing to admit out loud.
  • Brother O. also told me that ANY LDS “birth mother” who has EVER relinquished a baby, whether with LDSFS or not is entitled to free counseling for the rest of her life.  I told him he is the first person in the last 18 years that has told me this. Even his secretary told me I had to pay for the visit when I spoke with her on Monday. He leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms, tipped his chin up as the muscles around his eyes went hard, and in a low voice said, “Are you calling me a liar? Pat works for me. She doesn’t know what she is talking about.” Now that I look back, this should have been a clear sign to me to just end the conversation and be done but you know me and my crazy belief that people are fundamentally good and helpful unless they prove otherwise. But bottom line: I didn’t have to pay $112.50 yesterday to be told that my testimony of the gospel is doubtful because of the types of questions I was asking.

Sort of Helpful Information

  • When asked about Fred Riley’s statement about adoption being a priesthood ordinance, he scornfully laughed and said, “He doesn’t work for LDSFS anymore. What does it matter what he said or when he said it?” I pressed him on the issue again and he said, “No, it isn’t. It never has been.” Good, glad we cleared that up.
  • According to Brother O. Colorado now allows any adoptee upon the age of 18 to access their full unamended birth certificate. I don’t know if this is true or not or sort of true for some adoptees but not others.
  • Church policy about contact between adoptees and natural families has changed. (Already knew that.)
  • No, adoptees are not offered the free lifetime counseling if they were surrendered through LDSFS. He had no response to my question, “Why?”

Least Helpful Information

  • When asked why the LDS church was so involved with NCFA, Brother O. tipped his head back again and looked down his freckled nose at me saying, “I don’t see why that is even a concern of yours.”
  • When discussing adoption and the various stories from the scriptures,  he raised his voice at me a bit and said, “Melynda – those are all just metaphors. What do they really mean? They are just words.” Stunned, I just looked at him not sure what to say.
  • “You are truly the exception to the rule, Melynda. Most other single mothers aren’t as successful as you have been. Most other first mothers don’t get their act together either.” (Another point I should have gotten up and left.)

Really, Truly, Awful Things That Should Have Never Been Said

  • “Your questions lead me to believe you have an issue with the church. You are conflating  Mormonism with adoption. They are two different things.” (Uh…no. No they aren’t in this particular situation. Not when the very principles and foundational beliefs of the gospel were used a tools to convince me that my daughter deserved more than me.)
  • “I think it would be good for you to meet with me. Consider it immersion therapy – it would force you to sit here and talk to a man in a white shirt and tie in an LDS church building, and face it, that’s what you really have a problem with – the LDS church.” (My response: “No it isn’t. If I had a problem with the “church,” I sure would not be sitting here today talking to you. I wouldn’t hold a temple recommend, I wouldn’t be paying tithing, and I sure wouldn’t be doing my Visiting Teaching every month.”
  • He saved the best for last though. I had mentioned a couple of times that I know where my daughter lives and that she had grown into a lovely young woman and he said, “What kind of power does having the information give you?” I said what any first mother would say – I get to know that my daughter is alive and that she appears to be doing well. He pressed again, “No, what kind of satisfaction are you getting from knowing where she lives?” Hot tears started streaming down my cheeks as I looked at him and said, “I get to know that my daughter is ALIVE. This is something most first mothers NEVER get to know about their child.” Nonplussed, he pressed again with a sneer in his voice, “You must derive some type of power or satisfaction from this information, especially since her parents don’t want you involved with her life.”  At this point, I had no response….I just sat there and let the tears fall. This is when I knew I was d.o.n.e. talking with him.

Needless to say, I won’t be going back no matter how fabulous Brother O. thinks it would be for me. Thank you, but I don’t need your kind of help. Even though I wouldn’t have to pay any money, the cost for the “help” he is offering is far to high.

More to come later –

M.

Someone Has to Face the Valley, Part 2: The Questions

Dear Ms. Feverfew,

I went to the appointment yesterday with Brother Olsen from LDSFS. It went…well, it went. I am going to break up this story into a couple of parts because there are so many facets and things I need to tell you.

Before I start though, I thought I would share with you the list of questions that I took with me. I thought they were fair questions – hard – but fair. When I asked them, I tried to be my nicest self and to non-confrontational. I feel they were not only fair questions, but honest ones as well, meaning these are things I truly wanted to understand. So here there are, in all their glory…misspelled, bad grammar, all of it.

Much love,

M.

Questions for Brother Olsen of LDSFS:

  • Is adoption really considered to be a priesthood ordinance? {Fred Riley statement: “From the time of Adam, adoption has been a priesthood ordinance,” says Brother Riley. “It’s a principle of the gospel that probably all of us will experience at some point as we’re literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.”  Taylor, R. M. (2008). Why Adoption?, Ensign, Jan 2008, 46–52.}
  • If things are so different now in LDS adoptions, why did things need to change?
  • What were the problems with how things were done 18 years ago?
  • If there were problems, have there been apologies and corrections made to both natural parents and adoptees from the past?
  • When did they realize that there were problems?
  • Does LDSFS encourage open adoptions agreements to be signed prior to placement?
  • What have they done to help keep adoptions open?
  • Are adoptive couples allowed to adopt after they closed one adoption?
  • Are adoptive parents told that natural parents will move on?
  • Are PAPs encouraged to be at the hospital and doctor appointments? Why?
  • Are adoptive parents and natural parents both told that because of adoption there is a statistically higher chance the adoptee might commit suicide?
  • Why does LDSFS offer free lifetime counseling to surrendering mothers?
  • Are they told that they are at a significantly higher risk for depression and mental health issues that will require in-patient care? (3% of the general maternal population pre-surrender VS 12% post-surrender).
  • Are mothers considering surrendering their child for adoption told they face a much higher risk for secondary infertility than the general population (40-60% vs 2.24% for the general population)?
  • What is LDSFS view on adoption’s collateral damage on the extended family as well as future generations?
  • What kind of advice does LDSFS give to help repair damaged relationships with parents and siblings who were unwilling to help the young mother and who may have pushed for the adoption?
  • What specific counsel does LDSFS give on for the half or full siblings of the child relinquished for adoption?
  • What kinds of longitudinal studies have been done by the LDS church (if any) to track the activity rate, mental health status, marriage status, etc of women who surrender a child in the LDSFS system? If there isn’t one, why not?
  • What percentage of natural mothers and adoptees end up leaving the church?
  • What has the agency done to respect the rights of fathers?
  • What is done to make sure that no Native American children are adopted out without consent of the tribe?
  • You offer mothers who surrender their children for adoption through LDSFS a lifetime of free counseling. Is this same offer extended the adopted individual as well? Why?
  • As adoption affects entire family systems, shouldn’t the parented children of a surrendering mother also receive counseling for free as well?
  • Is kinship adoption/guardianship first encouraged so the child does not lose all of their family and heritage?
  • If the church is all about families and genealogy is so important – what about the adoptees? What is their true genealogy?
  • What about trans-racial adoptees like my daughter? What is done to help the adoptees embrace their cultural heritage or is does that part of their life because tabula rasa with the adoption?
  • Are their ancestors no longer important?
  • Who does the church consider to be their ancestors – their adoptive parents or first family?
  • And what of the issue of the sealing ordinance – if infant adoption is REALLY about ensuring children have access to the sealing ordinance, are newly converted single mothers told to relinquish their child for adoption to a temple worthy couple? Are they told they are being “selfish” for wanting to parent their child? What about children of part member families? Are their children any less “deserving” of the sealing ordinance than my daughter? Are those mothers told that if they loved their children enough, they would let a temple-married couple adopt their children so could be sealed together as a family?
  • How does the agency help to reunite the first mother and the adult adoptee?
  • According to LDS church policy, LDSFS should be offering single expectant parents who have the desire to parent support to learn the parenting and life skills they need to become successful parents. What is currently done to assist mothers who decide to parent their child? What programs and resources does LDSFS provide to these mothers?

Someone Has to Face the Valley

Dear Ms. Feverfew,

“Pat” over at LDSFS called the other day and rescheduled my appointment so I actually am going in to see Brother Olsen in oh…about 38 minutes. I am not nervous or anything but…OK, I am ridiculously nervous. I just need to remember that I am not a scared 19-year old girl seeking advice but a intelligent and sentient 38-year old mother who has serious questions.

Mr. Amazing Man just reminded me: There are more people out there like Lola, people who are willing to listen and who are willing to let their hearts be changed. I pray that Brother Olsen is another Lola. I am prepared for him not to be, but hope he is.

So here’s my theme song for the day – “Into the Fire” from The Scarlet Pimpernel. Wish me luck – if you don’t hear from me within the next 48 hours, send reinforcements.

“Into terror, into valour
Charge ahead, no, never turn
Yes, it’s into the fire we fly
And the devil will burn!”

Much love,

M.

David walked into the valley
With a stone clutched in his hand
He was only a boy
But he knew someone must take a stand

There will always be a valley
Always mountains one must scale
There will always be perilous waters
Which someone must sail

Into valleys, into waters
Into jungles, into hell
Let us ride, let us ride home again with a story to tell
Into darkness, into danger
Into storms that rip the night
Don’t give in, but give up
But give thanks for the glorious fight

You can tremble, you can fear it
But keep your fighting spirit alive boys
Let the shiver of it sting you
Fling into battle, spring to your feet boys
Never hold back your step for a moment
Never doubt that your courage will grow
Hold your head even higher and into the fire we go

Are there mountains that surround us?
Are there walls that block the way?
Knock ’em down, strip ’em back boys
And forward and into the fray

Into terror, into valour
Charge ahead, no, never turn
Yes, it’s into the fire we fly
And the devil will burn

Someone has to face the valley
Rush in, we have to rally and win boys
When the world is saying not to
By God, you know you’ve got to march on, boys
Never hold back your step for a moment
Never doubt that your courage will grow
Hold your head ever higher and into the fire we go

Let the lightning strike
Let the flash of it shock you
Choke your fears away
Pull as tight as a wire
Let the fever strike
Let the force of it rock you
We will have our day, sailing into the fire

Someone has to face the valley
Rush in! We have to rally and win boys
When the world is saying not to
By God, you know you’ve got to march on, boys
Never hold back your step for a moment
Look alive! Oh, your courage will grow
Yes, it’s higher and higher and into the fire we go
Into fire!
Onward, ho!

I am One Angry Natural Mother

There is a fire in my belly, blazing white and fanned by the hot winds of moral turpitude of the people who profess to follow Christ, yet engage in devious, amoral behavior in His name. They commit atrocities in His name, holding themselves up as paragons of what is right, what is good, what is best.

Yes, I am angry. It is a righteous, oxidizing anger that consumes any fear in my heart and tempers the metal of my soul.

What am I so angry about? Read this story: http://ourheartslinked.blogspot.com/2010/12/keary-father-fighting-for-his-rights.html#comment-form

Yet another story about the LDS church and subterfuge they use to procure infant children for their “righteous” childless members.

Let me be perfectly clear about this: There is NOTHING righteous about what has happened to that father and his daughter. There is nothing righteous in stealing a man’s child so that other people can be parents.

I don’t know all the facts – maybe he is an abusive, alcoholic, drug dealing, kitty strangler, just like all birhtmothers are crack-whore baby abondoners. But what if he isn’t? What is he is just a man like my husband, a man who is crazy in love with his daughter? What if he is the kind of dad, who although not wealthy or white, would move heaven and earth for his daughter?

What if?

And how can we as a people who profess to have the further light and knowledge of God’s true nature, how can we allow a family to be torn apart like this, all to satisfy the baby-lust of some more “righteous” (i.e. white, wealthy) couple? God is not happy about this flesh peddling in his name, I can guarantee it.

My mother told me at one point that I was to become the Harriet Beecher Stowe of adoption in the LDS church –  I laughed at her then. This morning though…this morning I know it is Truth.

I have much more to write as it is no coincidence that just prior to learning of this story I have been reading Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. It is no coincidence I have begun to truly understand the parallels between slavery and modern infant adoption practices. It is no coincidence that I recently read the part in Douglass’ autobiography were he says that he would rather be a slave to a non-Christian master than a Christian one because they are the worst kind. Christian slave owners felt morally justified in their behavior because, after all, their religion told them it was the “right” thing.

This is exactly how the couple who now has custody of Keary’s baby feels – justified because their religion tells them they are entitled to this baby. Sure, they feel “sad” for him and his loss, but not “sad” enough to do what is morally, ethically, and legally right. Just like the children of slaves were sold, traded, or bartered away, this father has lost his child to unscrupulous human traffickers, acting in the name of “love” and “God.”

After pouring my heart out to God and watering my pillow with tears throughout the night, distraught over the plight of this father and his daughter – and frankly, in my own personal culpability in falling prey to the “what is best” argument in the LDS church –  I awoke in the morning, my path laid clearly before me.

I know exactly what it is I must do. I  know in doing it, I may finally be able to forgive myself for what what happened to us.

It is time to speak.

It is time to tell to the story of us. Out loud. In public. Calmly, eloquently, repeatedly, holding fast to the doctrine of Christ while cutting through the dogma of the Mormon culture. It is time to start petitioning the First Presidency and the Twelve for a redress of a natural parents’ grievances.

It is time.

 

[Edited 12/27/2010 to add: It looks like the adoptive parents did the right thing and returned baby Elizabeth to her mother when they found out both parents were not in agreement with the adoption. God bless them. Literally, God bless them for doing that – legally, they did not have too. It must have been the most difficult decisions for them, but I am so glad they respected both first parents enough to do what was morally and ethically correct. Now it is up to Elizabeth’s parents to work out how to parent this tiny little one between the two of them.]

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.

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.

National Adoption Awareness Month ~ Day 1

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Today marks the beginning of National Adoption Awareness Month when we as Americans are urged to “celebrate” adoption and advocate for adoption awareness.  November 20 is of particular importance because it is National Adoption Day and will be “celebrated” by thousands of adoptions being finalized in courtrooms across the nation.

Yipee.

Frankly, I don’t see how celebrating the dissolution of a family is ever a good thing. And do they really want me to advocate for adoption awareness? I can’t imagine the LDS Family Services, the LDS church, or the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) want me advocating for adoption awareness because my message is not one they will appreciate: Infant adoption as currently practiced in the U.S. is wrong. Period. It needs to be changed.

Laws need to be enacted to preserve and protect natural families when at all possible. I realize that it is not always possible to preserve a natural family as I know there will always be rare and special circumstances that necessitate infant adoption, but they are exactly that: RARE and SPECIAL. Laws need to be enacted to preserve an adoptee’s original identity. Falsified birth records need to be done away with entirely (thank you Georgia Tann for that little nugget, you evil monster of a person). Laws need to be enacted to preserve an adoptee’s access to their birth records – it is shocking and wrong that in this day and age, innocent victims of adoption are treated worse than convicted murderers (thank you again Georgia Tann for that little nugget, you evil monster of a person).

So this month, I am going to write you a letter every day, “celebrating” adoption in my own way and advocating for my version of adoption awareness. I think my first official act of National Adoption Month 2010 will be to write a letter to Microsoft, urging them to fix the stupid auto-spell feature that keeps telling me “adoptee” isn’t a word. Don’t you think adoptees have enough of an identity crisis without being marginalized by Microsoft every time they type anything about their life experience?

Much love and belief –

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.

Here We Go Again – ~ God Doesn’t Do Adoption, part 11,002,546,997

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

OK – so maybe that “part 11,002,546,997” is a bit of an overstatement, it’s really part 11,002,546,992.

This latest go round has to do with John Wyatt and his baby daughter “Emma.” You can read more about it here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700064115/Utah-Supreme-Court-hears-fight-over-Baby-Emma.html

Needless to say, this case is causing quite the stir in the adoption blogosphere and needless to say (again), the LDS folks sure are making it easy for others to hate on them.  Just check out the comments left by readers over at Deseret News.

At any rate, I was led to a blog entry about this case on a blog titled “Rarely Home Mom.” (Does that mean she is rarely home because she is working or does that mean she is rarely home because she is busy being a helicopter parent or does that mean she is rarely home, as in she lives in another country and is rarely not “home” in the US? I digress…)

After reading the post and the comments, I left one of my own in response to another reader. I am fairly certain it will not be posted by the moderator, so I will post it here.

One of her readers says:

September 10, 2010 2:18 pm

This is so much like that story of King Solomon in the Bible. Caring for children whose lives are tangled in the courts carrys a huge amount of heartache. Someone needs to be there for them though. What a hard thing. I agree, the father is just painting himself a jerk, not proving his fatherhood.

To which my reply was:

Jendoop –

Do you remember the rest of the story of King Solomon and the baby? Do you remember who that baby ended up with? Was it the prospective adoptive mother or his natural mother? King Solomon gave the child back to his mother – a SINGLE parent, BTW.

If you are advocating that the Supreme Court in UT do the same thing – give this child back to her natural family who wants to care and love for her, then I am all for it.

M.

P.S. Here are some of my posts regarding adoption reform from an LDS perspective that your readers might find interesting:

https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/arrrrrggggghhhh/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/is-you-is-or-is-you-aint-or-in-other-words-a-question-for-fred-riley-of-lds-family-services/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/god-doesnt-do-adoption-part-2/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/you-know-what-chaps-my-hide/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/another-head-scratcher/
https://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/the-mormons-and-liberalprogressive-scientific-thought-maybe-not-so-different-after-all/

I truly don’t have any more mental energy right now to deal with this so I let my previous writings speak on my behalf. In the words of the unforgettable Prince Humperdinck: “Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.”

Much love and belief –

M.

___________________________________________________________________________

I just had to update the conversation over there on that blog. Of course Julie didn’t post my comment. Whatev.’ As a first mother in the LDS world, I am MORE than used to my voice being silenced, ignored, belittled, and marginalized. After all, I *deserve* what happened to me. At least that’s what most LDS people believe.

So here is Julie’s response to my post:

September 10, 2010 3:39 pm

Yes, it’s true that I have received comments to this post that I have not published (every first time commenter has to first be approved by me, then further posts are published at once). I am fine with people disagreeing with me (see posts by Katie above). But I won’t publish posts by people that have endless links sending readers of this original post to sites that are anti-adoption (one site says adoption is always wrong, in every situation!), anti-Mormon (nice, making my non-religious argument about my religion), and just plain ignorant.

Disagree with me, but don’t be a jerk.

Bottom line here: what needs to be decided is how the different state adoption laws will work together. This adoptive couple are not criminals – they followed the laws in at least one state. They are not kidnappers. I’m so tired of that argument. So, we can all agree that there needs to be action to prevent future disagreements like this.

It’s amazing to me that so many of you don’t agree that the best interests of this child can’t come first. Have mercy.

And here is mine:

Oh my, Julie. Anti Mormon??? Anti-adoption? Ignorant? Did you actually take the time to read those links?

Do I need to pull out my temple recommend or give you my Bishop’s phone number? Would you like to sit in on the Sunday School classes I teach? Would you like to see my tax returns that show how much we tithed last year and how much we donated in fast offerings (BTW, some of which goes to support LDSFS adoptions to help people such as yourself get children?), how much we donated to the mission fund and the humanitarian fund? Do you want to sit in on the Compassionate Service meetings I attend? Attend the ward activities I planned? The Enrichment classes I teach? Do you want to join me and my family at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning for scripture study and family prayer? Do you want to go with me when I do my Visiting Teaching this month? Perhaps you could join me on my morning 3 mile walk as I listen to the latest conference addresses on my mormonradio app. Do you want me to show you pictures of me singing with the the Mormon Youth Chorus at a solemn assembly when a new prophet was sustained? Would you like to join my efforts to “clothe the naked” and make infant care kits, knit hats, and sew dresses for children who have less? Do you want to join me as I go to a Sister’s house to teach her the basics of child care, home making skills, and budgeting because the Lord prompted me to do and then the RS president asked me to do it? Do you want me to parade you past the pictures at the Orem Institute of Religion that show me as part of the choir and part of the student leadership way back in the day? Should I send you pictures of my 1-year food storage? Do you want to make the 3.5 hours one-way trip with me to attend the temple? We could have a great chat on the way there, I am sure. I even know how to make funeral potatoes and green jello with shredded carrots in it!!! Even more, I kind of like them too. Would any of that convince you that I am NOT anti-Mormon?

What I am is a Mormon who is willing to turn over the rock of infant adoption and look at what might be underneath. Sometimes you find cool stuff, sometimes you don’t. I am a Mormon who is honestly seeking to reconcile the pure doctrine of Christ with her own experiences in the culture.

Anti-adoption? Perhaps, but *certainly* not the way you may assume. I am anti-the way *INFANT* adoption is currently practiced now (adoption through foster care is another thing entirely). You know, some of my dearest friends are adoptive mothers, just the variety that have the courage to look at this from every angle, even the ones that make them feel uncomfortable and queasy.

Please, as a fellow sister in Zion, I urge you to read some of those posts before you jump to conclusions about me as a person. Perhaps you will still come to the conclusion that I am ignorant and I am fine with that. But at least it will be an informed decision.

In the mean time, I will be praying for you that your heart will be softened and yes, I will continue to seek mercy. Mercy for the mothers who have lost children to adoption, mercy for the children who have lost their first families, and mercy for those who feel like it is their God given right to remove those children from their mothers. If there is one thing we ALL need, it is mercy from the Great Healer and Physician.

Much love,

M.

Utah Adoption Act (Utah Code Title 76B Chapter 6)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Church was canceled again yesterday because of the “big” snow storm (we got about 5″) and so I had some free time on my hands. Somehow, I ended up tracking down Utah’s “Adoption Act” and came across some interesting stuff.

“Utah Adoption Act” Title 78B-6-102.7

(7) The Legislature finds that an unmarried mother has a right of privacy with regard to her pregnancy and adoption plan, and therefore has no legal obligation to disclose the identity of an unmarried biological father prior to or during an adoption proceeding, and has no obligation to volunteer information to the court with respect to the father.

Say what??? In Utah, a woman has no legal obligation to tell who the father of her child is prior to placing that child for adoption???? What in the Sam Hill kind of law is that?  Now I know why the LDSFS worker told me that I could just “leave him out of it [the adoption]”, that  “he doesn’t really matter, ” and “involving him will just complicate things even more for your daughter and her new parents.”

I now know this was incredibly morally wrong. Regardless of if it is the law or not. It is wrong. And this is one of the things I wrestle with – why would a representative of the LDS church tell me to do something so completely amoral? Not just tell me to do it, but actively encourage me to do it and provide suggestions on how to get around telling him the truth.

78B-6-119. Counseling for parents.
(1) Subject to Subsection (2)(a), before relinquishing a child to a child-placing agency, or consenting to the adoption of a child, a parent of the child has the right to participate in counseling:
(a) by a licensed counselor or an adoption service provider selected by the parent participating in the counseling;
(b) for up to three sessions of at least 50 minutes per session; and
(c) subject to Subsection (2)(b), at the expense of the:
(i) child-placing agency; or
(ii) prospective adoptive parents.

Wow. Geez. Three whole 50-minute counseling sessions in return for my daughter?  I need to make a T-shirt up for this one. “I gave another family the greatest “gift” of all – my daughter – and all I got was three lousy counseling sessions.”

Three sessions.  That’s a hundred and fifty minutes.  In exchange for a lifetime of grief.

Here’s the kicker – in your adoption, I was never told I was legally entitled to even this “generous” amount. I never received my three free counseling sessions, courtesy of…well, of anyone.  I did eventually find my own way to a counselor. I am very grateful to have found such a wonderful therapist – I am just sad we moved 2200 miles away from him.  I could really use a chit-chat session with him about now. But  I never got my three free sessions.  Do you think 17 1/2 years later is to late to demand them?

78B-6-123. Power of a minor to consent or relinquish.
(1) A minor parent has the power to:
(a) consent to the adoption of the minor’s child; and
(b) relinquish the minor’s control or custody of the child for adoption.
(2) The consent or relinquishment described in Subsection (1) is valid and has the same force and effect as a consent or relinquishment executed by an adult parent.
(3) A minor parent, having executed a consent or relinquishment, cannot revoke that consent upon reaching the age of majority or otherwise becoming emancipated.

So…a minor can’t buy cigarettes. Can’t buy alcohol. Can’t open a credit card or get a loan without a co-signer.  Can’t get married without parental consent (and a juvenile judge’s consent if she is 15 or under). Can’t get birth control pills without parental consent. If she is under 16 can’t drive a car. If she is under 13,  can’t even open an online email or social networking account without parental consent.

BUT, she can relinquish another minor child (hers) to adoption.Without parental consent. Or telling the father.

That is really screwed up.

78B-6-125. Time period prior to birth mother’s consent.
(1) A birth mother may not consent to the adoption of her child or relinquish control or custody of her child until at least 24 hours after the birth of her child.

Wow.  A whole 24 whole hours?  Geeze. That’s really nice of them.

How many of us who have had children were at the tip-top of our mental and emotional game a mere 24 hours after having a child? I know I am not. At that point, I am still trying to deal with the uterine cramping, the bleeding, the surging hormones as my milk comes in and my body adjusts to not being pregnant, my raw & swollen girlie bits. I am exhausted  – not just from the delivery, but the last excruciatingly sleepless weeks of my pregnancy,  the every 4-hour checks by the nurses, and the visits from the family. And that’s after a natural, normal, short delivery without any residual effects of pain meds either.

24 hours after delivery is not the time to be having relinquishment papers shoved under a vulnerable mother’s nose. GoodfreakinFriday, even those “evil  capitalist” insurance companies allow a woman 48 hours in the hospital before she has to leave after having a child.

And here are some more of my more favorite parts:


78B-6-126.
When consent or relinquishment effective.
A consent or relinquishment is effective when it is signed and may not be revoked.

78A-6-514. Voluntary relinquishment — Irrevocable.
(4) A voluntary relinquishment or consent for termination of parental rights is effective when it is signed and may not be revoked.

No ifs, ands, or buts. No waiting period. No “can I have a week to think this over?” No nothing. So once that order to relinquish is signed in the hospital 24 hours after giving birth, the mother has no legal recourse to revoke her consent.

No wonder LDSFS encourages so many single mothers to deliver in UT.  They don’t have to tell the father. They don’t have to get parental consent. There is only a 24 hour waiting period after birth before the mother can relinquish. And then once those papers are signed, the mother has no legal recourse.

It was an enlightening way to spend my Sunday afternoon to say the least. Understanding the laws a bit more in UT helps me understand my experience a bit more as well.

Much love,

M.