My surrendered daughter Rebecca is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS, Mormon). In spite of a childhood marred by not knowing her origins, she accepts without question the Church’s precepts that all unmarried mothers should surrender their children for adoption. This doctrine is founded not only on the Church’s concepts of morality but on its beliefs about family and immortality.
The Mormon Church advises couples who conceive a child out of wedlock:
“…The best option is for the mother and father of the child to marry and work toward establishing an eternal family relationship. If a successful marriage is unlikely, they should place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS Family Services. … Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive family.” (Quotations are from the Church’s website, www.LDS.org.)
According to Mormon doctrine we are put on earth to work towards perfection. After our death and resurrection, we will stand “before the Lord to be judged according to our desires and actions. Each of us will accordingly receive an eternal dwelling place in a specific kingdom of glory.” The kingdoms of glory in descending order are the Celestial the Terrestrial, and the Telestial Kingdoms. Those who are unworthy will be called the sons of perdition and “will have to abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory. After death we may be reunited with family members who are in the same kingdom.
The Church’s rules on family formation are set forth in its 1995 “Proclamation to the World.”
“…Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and … the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
“…God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
“ Individuals who violate covenants of chastity … will one day stand accountable before God. … The disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
By surrendering her child for adoption, a natural mother “ensures that the child will be sealed to a mother and father in the temple” and thus may have “an eternal family relationship” after death. Surrendering the child allows unmarried parents to atone for violating the covenant of chastity and “enhances the prospect for the blessing of the gospel in the lives of all concerned.” Finally, surrender protects society against disintegration and calamity.
If the threat of being excluded from a kingdom of glory is not enough, the Church adds the familiar arguments:
“Young women who choose adoption are more likely to complete high school and go on to higher education. They are more likely to be employed and less likely to live in poverty or receive public assistance. They are also less likely to repeat out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
Children who grow up without their fathers are three times more likely to have a child of out of wedlock, twice as likely to drop out of high school, and two to three times as likely to have emotional or behavioral problems, and they often become the poorest of the poor.”
Each ward (a church organizational unit of about 200 families) has a volunteer adoption counselor. The counselor contacts pregnant unmarried women, and if marriage is not possible or desired, refers them to LDS Family Services.
Each ward also holds periodic adoption promotion meetings during which the ward leader (bishop) reminds church members of the Church’s teachings on adoption. Adoptive parents provide favorable testimonials. The Church publishes articles it its monthly magazine Ensign urging pregnant single women to surrender their children.
Until recently, Mormon adoptions, like other adoptions, were closed. Now expectant mothers may select adoptive parents from profiles online and meet with them. The parties may agree to further contact.
The Mormon adoption mandate appears to be successful. Few Mormon women keep their babies. Those that do suffer condemnation from Church members. I have been told that while they can attend Church services, they are not permitted to participate in prayers nor sacred temple ceremonies.
This is the second of a series on the LDS Church and adoption-related issues.
Lorraine adding a note here:
The greatest most organized opposition to open records for adoptees comes from the National Council for Adoption. They send people to testify at hearings, they write letters, they have money to fight open records because they collect fees for adoptions...right?
And who make up a large--if not majority--of their agency members? The LDS adoption agencies. Given what Jane has reported (from their own website) NCFA will never support open records, and when any of you good soldiers in the fight against stupid sealed records come up against them...this kind of information should be made known to your legislators. NCFA must lose! NCFA not now, NCFA (Nik-Fa) never!