Lorraine’s post Mormons on Meeting Your (Birth) Child generated many comments about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ position on single mothers, adoption, and reunion. We encourage our readers to read the excellent letter on Feverfew from “M” correcting some of the statements about LDS beliefs. “M” identifies herself as a lifelong Mormon “who is currently attempting to live the precepts of the LDS faith while reconciling my adoption experience with the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I consider myself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, I don’t consider myself to be a typical “Mormon” by any means because I tend to question with boldness the very existence of God.”
As many of you know, my daughter Rebecca was adopted by Mormons. Early in our reunion 12 years ago, I tried to learn about the Church. I’ve come to the conclusion that LDS Church leaders, like clever politicians, don’t take positions on issues when they don’t have to. Much like the platforms of political parties, the Church has core doctrines. These doctrines came from God via the first prophet, Joseph Smith, and have been “clarified” by subsequent prophets or presidents as they are also called.
Like political parties with their National, State and Local Committees, elected officials, candidates, precinct people, and the like, the Church has lots of “authorities”: second presidents, the Quorum of 12, the Council of 70, the president of the Relief Society, stake presidents, bishops, staff at LDS Family Services (which handles adoptions), and finally priests (every temple worthy male). These people (all men except for the president of the Relief Society) make statements about what Mormons should or should not do (have tattoos, for example – a definitely should not). But these statements are not Church doctrine and Church leaders disavow them if necessary. On the other hand, the doctrine is complicated and Mormons themselves may be confused about Church teachings or, in attempting to apply them, reach erroneous conclusions. Critics of the Church may twist statements by Church leaders much as Fox New Anchors distort remarks by Democratic party leaders, adding to the confusion.
As far as I can tell, the Church has no official positions on adoption or reunion although it strongly encourages adoption (“Placing the infant for adoption through LDS Family Services helps unwed parents do what is best for the child. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive family”) and discourages reunions.
As I have written here, LDS Family Services is a major player in the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), the leading opponent of open records legislation, comprising a quarter of its member agencies. The Church however, has never taken an official position on opening records, leaving it to LDS Family Services to carry the water. (Rebecca explained to me that opposition to opening records could not be Church doctrine because keeping records closed would not help prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ).
I know that if the Church prohibited reunions Rebecca would not have spent over 10 years looking for me. On the other hand, the statement by a reader explaining why a Mormon woman might refuse contact with her surrendered child which started the examination of LDS teachings is undoubtedly also true. "I wonder if many of these (possibly) Mormon mothers still feel alone, isolated, and wholly unworthy of speaking out or seeking contact. The social stigma of being an "unwed mother" still looms large in the LDS church, even if you were an "unwed mother" decades ago - it is a label that will never leave you in this culture.”
Post script. The Church recognizes that members may be confused about church doctrine. After I posted the piece above, I ran into an article from the LDS Church News reminding Mormons to stick to Church-approved documents when preparing Church lessons and activities. According to the article, the Church has prepared a "correlation" in which "we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation — and do it all under priesthood direction." The article discouraged Mormons from consulting "unofficial lesson plans, resources and information found in books and on the Internet."