I respond, with just a sentence or two, telling her it’s not that easy, and adoption is a hard road. Adoption is not the answer to not having an abortion. I bite my tongue in more ways than I can count, and just leave it at that. I know why she said it, I know why she thinks it’s the best thing.
In the Mormon church, the answer to an unexpected pregnancy is not marriage. It’s not parenting. It’s never abortion.
In fact, if you go to their website, www.itsaboutlove.org, and click on Adoption Facts, you actually won’t find facts about adoption. You’ll find only two “benefits”of adoption, both statements which have been quoted and altered to some degree. The rest is about the child being set up for failure in a single parent home, and why a two parent home is much better.
They don’t tell you the reality of adoption. They don’t even really tell you that they are selling adoption to you at that moment. They just tell you that being in a single parent home is detrimental, and that apparently all adopted kids are well adjusted, and don’t have as many mental health issues as those that are not adopted. Or probably those in single parent homes. If you are a woman, who is unexpectedly pregnant, you’ll likely to feel like garbage after reading all of that contrived nonsense.
None of the things they’ve listed are benefits; they are possibilities. The same possibilities that I deal with in a two parent home. My child could wind up with mental health issues, or behavorial issues. They don’t tell you that adoption doesn’t exempt you from those issues, or that the child is actually at a higher risk of developing those said issues. They don’t talk about the struggle adoptees have with self-identity, and anxiety, trust issues, and even self-esteem. Doing that would make the playing field balanced, and not at all manipulated.
It also wouldn’t make adoption look like the best option.
And with the Mormon church, adoption is the best option.
LDS Family Services is run by the LDS/Mormon Church. Some workers are paid by the church, and there are “workers” who are volunteer based, or rather, they are placed in a church “calling” and are required to serve in that area. For instance, the “worker” I got, was a social worker by trade, but was “called” by the church to work as a volunteer. In other cases, a woman may get someone who is a nurse, or a retiree- mine just happened to be a social worker. Her job was to give me all the information, the pamphlets, and talk me through my decision. She was the one I was directed to when I decided I wanted to parent. She was the one they sent to tell me that my 10 days wasn’t up and I had one more day to redact my decision (they considered not telling me). The program is there for counseling should members require it, but the primary business (and yes, it is a business, even though it hides under the guise of religion), is adoption. The agency only deals with adoptive parents who are Mormon, but will take in any woman, no matter her race, religion or age.
Since it’s an internal, religion only operation, advertising is done in a couple of ways; first, through mothers who have previously relinquished. When you are pregnant, and still considering, they provide you with “classes”. One of those classes is having a girl who has already has relinquished. When I asked to speak to a girl who had parented, they said they couldn’t find one for me. The parenting class is done by one of the volunteer workers, and they hand you a bunch of cliche, coercive worksheets on the basic “what I can provide versus what the adoptive couple can”.
On the other side of the spectrum, they have the couples who have had a successful and picturesque adoption experience go from church to church, and speak to the adults about the blessings of adoption. Basically, this is meant to “inspire” families to adopt through the agency.
It’s a well-oiled machine. If you click through the options on their website, you’ll see a common theme, until you hit the “adoption” section: They don’t want you to parent, or get married, they want your baby, full stop.
While they bemoan all the issues with parenting, abortion, or a shot-gun wedding, they don’t talk about the lifelong grief that associates itself with adoption. Yes, adoption can be a good option. Yes, adoption can be the answer some girls are looking for. However, they are insidiously brainwashing their members, young and old to believe that adoption is this pain free, easy answer to an unexpected pregnancy.
It’s not. Saying adoption does not come with it’s own set of grief and regret is like saying that it doesn’t really hurt when you hit your head on a wall because it’s not brick.
The problem with this thinking is that it promotes the very idea that abortion is a decision that is “easy”, and adoption is the more loving decision. Using the word “loving” before adoption insinuates that having an abortion is the opposite, when in actuality, an adoption is no more loving than abortion. It’s a choice, and it’s a choice that women should be encouraged to make on her own, based on her own life experiences. Not based on what I did, or what Sally did. We shouldn’t have, as the Mormon church does, men in authoritarian positions telling women what to do with their bodies, and with their life. Should they give guidance? Sure, but none of that should include forcing them into a situation where they have their reproductive rights limited, and a huge life choice made for them. This sort of of decision deserves honesty. Women and their partners deserve to know the impact of each choice, here, now and in the future. If anyone tries to limit that information, they are coercing, and they are manipulating for their own good.
Yes, LDS Family Services, I am looking at you.
You are constantly promoting the idea that adopting couples are somehow better, somehow more stable. Maybe they have more money, maybe they have a new house, but they are not isolated from the trials of life. We all, no matter our race, religion or age, face hard times. Relationships fail, bank accounts empty, jobs can be lost, abuse can happen. No one, not even LDS couples who adopt, are exempt from those things.
All these LDS folks have bought into the idea that adoption is somehow circumspect, and relieved of all humanity, meaning there is no regret, hurt, or pain on either side. I hope that one day they seek resources outside of the realm of the LDS Church. Their claims are hardly backed up by actual data or statistics, and are founded primarily on religious beliefs. Just because an ideal is backed up by religious ethic doesn’t necessarily make it truth. In this case, where Mormons are renowned for their “adoption is love, adoption is a miracle” propaganda, it’s not always the full story. In fact, even in the best adoptions, there is pain, there is heartache, and there is a bucketful of regret. It has nothing to do with accepting the process, or being bitter.
Adoption is a traumatic, life changing event. It’s a decision that lasts a lifetime, just like abortion. Just like parenting. It’s not a solution that fades into the background and you forget all about that one time you had a baby and gave him or her away. You don’t forget, because you are a mother. It doesn’t matter what your relationship is with god, or whatever entity you relate to, you will not be isolated from the grief that adoption holds.
LDS Family Services, your church brags about honesty, about accountability, about family. Yet, you have this practice, where you convince women that their biological babies, the ones they grow in their own wombs are better off without them. You convince them that you know better than the natural instincts that are within a woman when she becomes a mother, and you convince them, that their child is not their child. You break a family, to make another, and I have yet to see that fact be acknowledged.
Furthermore, your practices as an agency are laughable at best. You present open adoption as glorified closed adoption, and in some instances, you don’t tell the mother that it’s not legally enforceable You find loopholes to exempt the father from being involved, and when a woman decides she wants to parent, you find ways to manipulate her back into an adoption plan. In some cases, you’ll go as far as to remove the mother to another province or state to make the adoption go through, completely ignoring your legal and ethical responsibility to that child and the father.
Somehow, despite all of this, you seem to maintain this idea within the church that adoption is a beautiful, untarnished answer. You don’t have women like me, standing up in front of a room of adults telling them what I deal with, a decade later, because you know it would make them wince, and reconsider the flawless nature of adoption that you present. When you tell those mothers about me? You tell them I am bitter, or some other lie so they don’t know that this anger is something you get to live with for the remainder of your life. It’s part of the adoption plan, the part you can’t put on paper. You don’t offer counselling long-term or tell those women who relinquish that they are at a high risk for post-partum depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders. You don’t tell the women who are sitting in your offices, who have their hands carefully placed on their bellies that at any point, for any reason a family could pull their “openness”, and there would be nothing she could do to fight back.
Most of all, you don’t tell them that you are lying to them. That you are withholding truths. That you are not interested in them, and their wellbeing, that as soon as the papers are signed and the waiting period is over, you will disappear. The adoption doesn’t disappear but you sure do.
As long as you, LDS Family Services, keep perpetuating this idea that you are a Savior in the land of adoption, you will have people like me, speaking out against you. Because, you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You have convinced thousands of members that adoption is an easy, loving, unmistakable answer. You have convinced them that it’s doesn’t come with consequences, like abortion or parenting. And as a result, you now have thousands of your members all over the world, the internet, in public spaces spouting off about how easy adoption is. When they have no idea: They have no idea that you are lying to them, and they have no idea that they are lying for you.
Honesty? LDS Family Services is the last place I would look for it.