The Mormon church is currently running this social media campaign, #BecauseofHim. The idea, it seems, is to have members share their intimate feelings regarding the church and Jesus Christ.

To balance the discussion, I’m adding my own experiences. The Mormon church placed a great deal of pressure on me, using doctrine to convince me that my son was their property. I was subjected to lessons and lectures, even though I was told that it was my choice. In the end, there was no choice, between my parents demanding that adoption was the only option, and the scare tactics that were used by both LDSFS, and leaders regarding the safety of my son. Manipulation and false statistics were used to convince me when the doctrinal rhetoric didn’t work. In the end, the bigger message was that Jesus and Heavenly Father wanted me to go through with the adoption so my son would have an eternal family, which was apparently something I would never be able to offer. I wasn’t good enough.

So while the Twitter stream is full of unicorns and rainbows regarding the Mormon church, just know there is a darker side, and I lived it. Mormon Jesus can be a vicious, vindictive, wicked entity.


#Becauseofhim I bought the idea that God was punishing me for having consensual sex with a committed partner.

#Becauseofhim I believed that I was the last person that was capable of raising my son.

#Becauseofhim I bought into the idea that in order to “repent”, I had to sacrifice my first born son.

#Becauseofhim, I don’t know my son.

#Becauseofhim  I felt like I had to listen to my own mother chastise me, insult me, and condescend me, because I deserved it.

#Becauseofhim I did everything I could to exclude my son’s father from this life changing decision.

#Becauseofhim I ended up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

#Becauseofhim I wonder and worry about my son, every single day.

#Becauseofhim there is a chance that my own son will hate me because I am no longer Mormon.

#Becauseofhim I believed the dogma that my child was foreordained to another family, and wanted to go to that family instead of being with me.

#Becauseofhim I find myself on my knees, in pain, every May because the enormity of losing my first born son still causes my soul to ache, and my heart to shatter into millions of pieces.

#Becauseofhim my son will likely hear over and over again that he has no need to search or know his family of origin because he now has an “eternal family”.

#Becauseofhim I get comments on this blog, and even in real life, that my son is better off without me, because I left the church.

#Becauseofhim my parents chose to ignore their parental responsibility to me while I was pregnant, and allowed their church to beat us all into submission. Because repentance.

#Becauseofhim I have to explain to my parented children why they don’t know their brother, and comfort them when they express how they wish they could be a part of his life.

#Becauseofhim I learned that my voice was insignificant, and spent years repressing my true feelings regarding the adoption.

#Becauseofhim I was shunned by members during my pregnancy. I lost friends and became the spotlight of the rumors circulating.

#Becauseofhim my sister had to endure Young Women’s lessons where my unexpected pregnancy was the focal point and discussion on the importance of the Law of Chastity.

#Becauseofhim my son’s adoptive parents believe that they did more than they needed to cultivate a relationship with me, because LDSFS and other members told them they had.

#Becauseofhim to many, I am just a birthmother. I have to, over a decade later, still fight the stereotypes regarding those women who relinquish their parental rights.

#Becauseofhim I was forced to give my first born son away because the church policy was as such, and being a young single mother was unacceptable.

#Becauseofhim I learned that my parents love their church more than they believe in the unconditional love and support of family.

#Becauseofhim I don’t have my first born son in my life, in any way whatsoever.

#Becauseofhim I have this deep, dark aching within that I’ve learned will likely never disappear, even if a reunion is to happen at some point.


The Impact of Words

Some time ago, I wrote a piece directed at my mother. It was inspired because she had been proclaiming to my family and others that I was a slut as a teenager. Even in my adult years, my own mother was still happy to call me a slut if it meant justifying her behavior. I’ve since taken the piece down for a number of reasons mostly because it was a exceptionally long winded rant that could have been better articulated.

When I was a teenager, I was sexually active. I won’t dress it up or sugar coat it. I lost my virginity at a young age, and while I don’t regret it, I do wonder if I should have been a little less energetic to move to make that choice. However, I was in a relationship with a person who I cared deeply for, and we felt that it was something we wanted to share together, safely. After we broke up, any other sexual partners I had were always people I knew, and cared for. I spent the time making sure I was routinely tested, was on birth control, and made sure that I knew my partner’s sexual history. In short, I was responsible with my sexual activity.

None of my maturity regarding my sexual health matter to my mother. The Mormon church advocates for strict “purity”, and the act of having sex before marriage is considered as heinous as murder. There was no room for discussion in my home regarding my changing body, my sexual curiosity, or my basic questions regarding relationships and sex. When I admitted to my parents that I had indeed had sexual intercourse, an all out war began. It opened up the floodgates for insults that my mother justified based on church doctrine. Often, I found myself dealing with self-loathing because of the rhetoric that I was being dealt at home. All of my worth as a human being was suddenly balancing on the fact that I had sex before marriage.

When I became pregnant with The Kiddo, my mother told me point blank that my pregnancy was God’s way of punishing me for having sex before marriage. According to her, I was too stupid to listen to reason, and as a result, God knocked me up to teach me some greater lesson. Her insults didn’t end there. For much of my pregnancy, she insulted me sexually. I was a “whore”. I was a “slut”. I was “that girl who couldn’t keep her legs shut”.  During a time when I needed and deserved to have a supportive, caring mother to help me through one of the toughest ordeals of my life, I was instead treated to a woman mad with indignant self-righteousness. She simply valued her reputation in the church more than she valued unconditionally loving her own daughter. This was proven greatly when she threatened to with hold any and all family contact if I decided to parent my baby.

I was never asking for her to celebrate this teen pregnancy. As a parent now, I can understand the disappointment you’d feel if your child wound up pregnant before a time that was ideal. However, I can’t fathom ever behaving in the manner that she did. I can’t understand the idea that you could blackmail your own child with the retraction of your love if they don’t do what you say. There is no way for me to make sense of the idea that a loving mother would repeatedly insult her own daughter. Worst of all? I can’t imagine behaving in such a depraved manner, and never thinking that a genuine apology was owed.

When my brother went on to have issues with his sexuality, I became the scapegoat. I had led the way, it was my example that he was following, according to my parents. Except, that he wasn’t. Where he was reckless in his sexual decisions, I hadn’t been. Where I had gone out of my way to make sure I was healthy sexually, he didn’t even know how birth control actually worked. I wasn’t engaging in sexual behavior recklessly or thoughtlessly, but my brother was. He had/has no sexual boundaries whatsoever. None of this mattered to my parents, because blaming my unexpected pregnancy on his sexual deviance was a far easier reach for them. It couldn’t simply be the fact that they didn’t allow him to take sexual education class. It couldn’t be that their method of obedience at all costs wasn’t working. It couldn’t even be the fact that he was making all of these poor choices all on his own. In their minds, it was, it was me, the slut (according to my own mother) who had led him down this path.

There has consistently been this cyclical system of blaming everyone else for the actions of their children. Instead of taking the time to reflect on the possibility that they may have added to the behavior, or that simply, in my case, an accident, they have decided to blame everyone else, and act as though they are the victims. Personally, I don’t blame my parents for the stance they took on sex; abstinence is taught explicitly by many religions, not just Mormonism. I don’t blame them for the unexpected pregnancy. I do, however, blame them for using said pregnancy as a reason to refuse to act like parents. Instead of parenting, they chose to be religious fanatics, who would have happily stoned their own daughter. They refused to have discussions surrounding all of my options, instead falling prey to their own church. It’s unforgivable in my mind, the abuse they threw at me through the time of my pregnancy, and even after. They had the ability to parent me, they had the ability to ask hard questions, but they simply refused because their religious dogma told them they shouldn’t.

The damage my parents did by not being my parents during my pregnancy has been lasting. There was a removal of trust. I became frightened of them, emotionally. I wasn’t eager to pursue a relationship with them. My pregnancy was not a greater lesson from a petty God, nor was the pregnancy itself foreordained so my child could go to another family. I resented my parents for not only supplying this idea, but giving it wings to fly. This idea that this Mormon God was this mean spirited caused a great deal of inner turmoil both emotionally and spiritually. Most of all, this rhetoric ultimately played a defining factor in damaging our relationship as a family.

There is a long list of things that I didn’t know or wasn’t told about the big picture of adoption. Where I used to be angry at my parents for their behavior, I just feel incredibly sad for them. They were (and still are) so wrapped up in their religion that they didn’t have the clarity of mind to ask the right questions. They didn’t even ponder the long term rammifications of the adoption, on both myself, themselves, and The Kiddo. They just accepted, blindly, that their church was doing the right thing, because they have been conditioned to never question church authority. As a result, they lost out on their first grandchild, and subsequently, their inaction caused a great riff between themselves and their daughter.

My family is welcome to proclaim from the highest mountain that I’m a slut. I’m not angry about it now; I know the truth, and I’m old enough that I don’t have to explain myself over and over again. However, underneath all their self-righteous proclamations, I wonder if their are projecting their own hurt, their own anger, and their own regret regarding the situation. It’s often easier when we’ve made mistakes to place the blame on others instead of taking a hard look at our own actions. In the Mormon church, many members are happier in their own echo chamber, preaching to the choir, and receiving “answers” that solidify their actions. It’s hard for many to step out of that box, and re-evaluate their personal role in tough situations, because it may mean that they have to admit that they were wrong.

And, my parents are/were wrong. I wasn’t a slut. My pregnancy wasn’t some sign from god, or some attempt at mediation from a higher power. It was the result of failing contraception, and I wish that when I had been pregnant, that less time had been spent on lecturing me on how I was being punished by a petty god. I wish that instead of insults and coldness, my parents opted to take that journey with me, and help me make the right decision instead of passing me off to their church. I wish they had the wisdom to understand that their action and inaction then, would have a resounding impact on the future.

Why I Won’t Leave The Mormon Church Alone

Often, ex-Mormons are asked why they cannot leave the church alone after they have disaffected. The answers vary, obviously, as each individual has a different reason for leaving. When I asked myself this question, I reflected on the events that had led me to my unbelief. I knew it started when I was eleven years old, just a precocious little child, with an opposition to authority. What was it that had led me down that path of sure unbelief and out of the church for good?

Where was my ex-Mormon turning point?

There was the comparing of Patriarchal Blessings with a good friend, only to realize they were identical, save a few sentences. There was the reading of certain articles on an ex-Mormon website. Then there was the disfellowship, the power struggle that ensued with a local bishop when I was newly married.  There was the abusive way my ex-husband used his priesthood as power over me, and as an excuse to abuse me. There was the fact that I had read the Book of Mormon countless times and just didn’t believe it.

All of those things (and even more) were contributing factors to my ultimate journey out of the Mormon church. Yet, none of them felt as though they were the point of no return. Where in this journey had I realized that I was done with this church forever, and ever?

In the cozy, darkened office that my therapist held her sessions in, we were discussing treatment for the PTSD that I had been diagnosed with. Somehow, the conversation, which was rare, turned to the adoption. At this point, I was completely disassociated from the adoption. I was still towing The Good Mormon Birthmother line, despite being inactive for years.

That day, I opened up to my therapist about the ways of the adoption. I continued to excuse the coercion, and the lack of actual support I received. I found a way to justify the way my mother had treated me, the way my friends had treated me, and uncomfortably shouldered the blame.

“Why are you taking blame for actions that you didn’t have any control over?”

I stuttered and stumbled to explain myself,

“I created that chaos. I was the one who got pregnant. I was the one who hurt my family. It was my fault. My sins to pay for.”

The room filled with silence before my therapist spoke again,

“What you went through was a form of religious abuse, Danielle.”

My eyes filled with tears. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

“The way your mother treated you? Abuse. The way the agency withheld information? Unethical, and abusive. The way you were berated into believing that you were not good enough to raise your child? Abuse. You were made into a sacrifice, and held hostage, even to the point where you had to relinquish your parental rights to your first born. All in the name of religion. It was abuse.”

For the first time since the adoption, someone was telling me what I had felt during my pregnancy: I had been treated poorly. I had convinced myself through the years that what happened to me was just the result of bad decisions and I deserved every bit of heartache I felt. Now there was someone validating my thoughts and feelings from many years prior. It felt as though someone had pulled a veil off my face, and I was beginning to see the writing on the wall through a clearer perspective.

It would be a number of years until the shelf I had placed the adoption on, came crashing down. It wouldn’t be the realization that I had been mistreated, but the idea that my own son was being subjected to a family that may not have his best interest at heart. I fell to pieces, spending weeks in a state of depression. Then, just like the sun rises in the morning, my sadness quickly turned to anger. As I began to piece more of the coercive tactics I was subjected to through LDSFS, I was filled with a rage I had never felt before. I was angry at my parents for not parenting me through the ordeal instead leaving me at the doorstep of LDSFS, and racing away. It was my anger at LDSFS and the Mormon church that was the tipping point.

This blog, all the words within it, tell the story of how I was manipulated into giving my firstborn away by the Mormon church. You’ll find that the coercion didn’t end when the relinquishment papers were signed. When I was sold adoption, open adoption, even, it was presented as this gift that was simply too good to reject. It made me better, better than those who chose to parent or have an abortion. They raised me on this pedestal, stroking my ego, and forcing me to repress the negative thoughts I had regarding the process. In the end, that pedestal only made the fall into reality increasingly brutal.

My story isn’t uncommon, even despite the fact that the internet is lined with those Good Mormon Birthmothers, and Mormon Adoptive Parents preaching about the beauty of adoption. I know it’s not uncommon because of the comments I’ve had sent to me publicly, and privately. I can tell from the searches that lead people to my blog. Until the day comes that I don’t have these things, I won’t stop talking. I won’t stop raising my voice against the Mormon church who marginalized me, and has condemned me to suffer a lifetime of grief. If I can even help one young woman to ask the questions I didn’t have the courage to ask, or to demand respect from those guiding her through this life changing decision, I’ll have won.

But I won’t stop talking about how Mormonism, the same one who says it values family, while it deceitfully strips women of their rights to parent their own children.  The church doesn’t deserve that sort of mercy.

The Unforgivable

In late December, after I wrote an articulate, but blunt email to my parents regarding the drama that had filled up the weeks before the holidays, an email was sent in response from my mother that left me both defeated and angry. With my fingers poised over my phone, ready to respond, my husband quietly suggested that I might want to refrain. Originally, I scowled at him, and gave him a list of incredibly poignant reasons why it was imperative that I respond, in anger, of course. He shrugged his shoulders casually, and just said, “I just think you know how this will end. You can end it now, gracefully, or you can battle it out, and have to deal with the collateral damage that comes along with it being drawn out.”

His reasoning was sound, and suddenly, I was picturing an email war that would cycle for weeks, maybe even months, with nothing ever getting resolved. My feelings, already fragile and broken, would become even more frail, and wounded. There would be more anger, more frustration, and no peace. History had shown me already how this ended, and I needed to finally have the state of mind to step back and know when it was time to say, “Enough”.

I’d been advised by health professionals that ridding myself of my family’s toxicity would solve a significant number of issues I was contending with. It had been a somewhat offensive suggestion because I was in this mindset that I could fix it. I could fix the historical abuse and dysfunction. Admitting that it was irreparable would mean that I would have to deal with the fact that I would never have the family I always wanted, and furthermore, it would mean having to actually survey the damage that had been done because I was so fixated on an ideal that was far fetched.  When I deleted that email, it was the first step to admitting that there was just nothing I could do to make my family see the error of their ways, or even inspire a change in them.

Soon after, I found myself reading articles about families like mine. I found myself nodding along, and realizing that for many, many years, I had been banging my head against a wall that was never going to crumble, no matter how genuine my intentions. Putting together that narcissism played a huge role in their personalities, and the dynamics of the family was liberating, and haunting. They were never, ever going to be better than they were at this moment. And, the longer I held on to the false hope of change, I would just continue to drag myself into their darkened abyss of misery.

In the past, my biggest issue with maintaining a distance from my family has always been guilt.  So I began to, on the advice of some new found supports, write a list of all the things I had lost out on because I had been working on the fantasy of having functional relationship with my family. It would serve as a reminder when I was in those sentimental moments, or when they randomly popped up into my life. As I wrote, I could barely catch my breath. Event after event appeared on the screen, long lost relationships, and so much more. It wasn’t even physical incidents anymore, but the realization that I had spent many years putting energy into people who had proved, time and time again, that they were not worth any of that.

The adoption was of course near the top of the list. Instead of parenting me through one of the most difficult moments of my life, I was passed onto their church for handling. There was no kindness granted toward me, my own mother repeatedly telling me that I was nothing more than a common whore. All of it, the end result, my son going to another family, was never truly for my benefit, though they nobly expressed that it was to anyone who would listen; It was so that they could ultimately repair their reputation. They didn’t look at the long term impact it would have on me, or on my future family. They didn’t even consider for a second what could go wrong. They were hellbent on ignoring important questions so they could just say they did the right thing.

Then, somewhere in between, they realized they may have made an error. There was no apology, there was no admission that perhaps they were too eager and too self-focused. Admitting that they played a distinct role, negatively, meant confessing that they were wrong, and with them, they are never wrong.  When I did get to see The Kiddo at his baptism when he turned 8, the whole scenario was tainted by their mutterings, their dissection of every move the adoptive parents made or didn’t make, and ultimately, the focus was redirected to them. This adoption story, the one that was beginning to bend and break before our eyes, was their personal tragedy. It wasn’t about me, or about The Kiddo, it was, and always would be about them.

The list of wrong doings grew. As I scanned it, I knew that some of the supposed sins were forgivable. Some, however, were not. The adoption was one of those unforgivable actions, if only for their lack of remorse and inability to take responsibility for their actions.  

I’ve been writing about adoption loss for over two years now. I’ve seen therapist after therapist to deal with the rammifications of it. No matter how much healing I do, and I’ve done a lot, I would just never find a logical reason why I should forgive them. I knew that I would be able to move forward, and I would eventually find away to let go of the anger I had, but forgiveness is just not an option.

So, at the top of the list, I wrote,

“Can you trust the unforgivable?”

Quietly, I hit enter several times, and then softly typed,





Whispers of His Name

I heard his name whispered as the kids were playing their game. As if he knew, my son quickly glanced over at me, watching to see if I heard, and how I would react.

“What are you playing?” I asked.

“The Angry Birds are playing house.” He seemed tentative.

“Oh, that’s fun!”

My daughter ran over to me, and exclaimed, “These are the brothers.This one is Potato and this one is Kiddo.”

I bit my lip, unsure of how to respond.

“I have two brothers, Mama. Potato and Kiddo. We don’t see Kiddo, but he’s still my brother.”

I forced a smile, and nodded. “That’s right.”

“When do we get to see him?” she asked, innocently. My mind raced for a moment, trying to think of the perfect way to tell her that she likely wouldn’t see him any time soon, possibly not ever.

Potato jumped in, ” We don’t get to see him. His parents don’t let him see us. Right?”

My fake smile faded. It was blunt, and it was true. I nodded again, afraid to speak.

My daughter processed this information, something she has heard before, but forgets because she’s just little.  “That’s not very nice. I want to play with Kiddo.”

I sighed, and explained,

“I know. I wish we could see him to, but it just isn’t possible right now. Maybe one day. For now, you can pretend to play with him all you like.”

A consolation prize, of sorts. You can’t see him, know him, or be near him. He can’t play your pretend games, or discuss the intricacies of Star Wars, or Angry Birds, or any of the other things my two parented kids are interested in. Even with their age, and only a partial picture of what it means to be the sibling to a child who has been relinquished to adoption, they seemed to grasp that they are missing out on important moments.  A few years ago, I would have imagined that these conversations would have turned into discussions about our most recent visit.  Now, all they have is dated pictures, my own recollections of when Kiddo as a tiny baby, and any other small glimpses I’ve been given through the years. I do my best to share this with them so they can, hopefully, feel connected to this sibling they’ve never met.

It all  seems drastically unfair. Another check in the long list of things I wasn’t told I would have to cope with post-adoption. Another situation that I have to maneuver, blindly. Another realization that the simplistic idea that adoption would only ever impact me was completely and utterly wrong. Another slap in the face that part of my family is missing, and my family actually recognizes that. If only I could accurately describe the level of guilt this raises within me.

I miss out on my son.

More importantly, my kids are missing out on their brother and all I can offer to them is the encouragement to continue to imagine that he is there with them.