|LDS Temple, Salt Lake City|
Ending adoption placements at LDSFS may be a harbinger of change--or maybe not. The Church has not changed its policies stated in Handbook 2 Policies on Moral Issues regarding adoption:
"Church members who are single and pregnant are encouraged to go their bishop. By virtue of his priesthood office and calling [all bishops are men**], he can counsel with them as they make important decisions that affect their own well-being and that of their child. He can also help them begin the process of repentance, where appropriate.
"...When a man and woman conceive a child outside marriage, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, the unmarried parents should be counseled to work with LDS Family Services to place the child for adoption, providing an opportunity for the baby to be sealed to temple-worthy parents. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses both the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity.
"...Birth parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of a sense of obligation to care for one's own. Additionally, grandparents and other family members should not feel obligated to facilitate parenting by unmarried parents, since the child would not generally be able to receive the blessing of the sealing covenant. Further unmarried parents are generally unable to provide the stability and nurturing environment that a married mother and father can provide. Unmarried parents should give prayerful consideration to the best interest of the child and the blessings that can come to an infant who is sealed to a mother and father." 21.4.12Some mothers have reported that their bishop threatened them with excommunication*** if they kept their baby. Excommunication is not automatic, however. Mothers would have the right to appeal to a disciplinary council. The inability to receive the "blessing of the sealing covenant," though, would prevent the child from connecting in the afterlife with his mother as children of married parents can.
While its policy is unchanged and the Church retains the machinery to make adoptions happen, its attitude towards fallen women--those needing to repent--has softened. Mormons report that it's not rare today to see unwed mothers in the Church. Handbook 2, Young Women Who Are Pregnant out of Wedlock or Who Are Unwed Mothers allows for them:
"If a young woman age 17 or older has a baby out of wedlock and chooses to keep the child, she is welcomed into Relief Society [the Church's organization for women], where she can be taught and helped in her new responsibilities.
"If a young woman under 17 has a baby out of wedlock and chooses to keep the child, the decision to participate in Young Women [the Church's organization for teen girls] is left to the prayerful discretion of the young woman, her parents, and the bishop. If the young woman participates in these classes and activities, the child should not accompany her." 10.12.4
Elder Baxter, who was raised by a single mother, specifically addressed unmarried parents: "You may be coping with the challenges of single parenthood as a result of having taken a wrong turn outside of marriage, but you are now living within the framework of the gospel, having turned your life around." After discussing the difficulties single parents bear and encouraging them to "look up" rather than "being cast down," he concludes by asking members: "Is there more that you could do to support single-parent families without passing judgment or casting aspersions? Might you mentor young people in these families, especially providing for young men examples of what good men do and how good men live? (Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents) (Emphasis added.)
*The LDS Church won the Demon in Adoption award in 2011.
**A group of Mormons are pushing for the Church to ordain women. They are holding a meeting in Salt Lake City October 5.
***Romney urges single woman to give up her baby--or be outcast from LDS
Handbook 2, Policies on Moral Issues: Single Expectant Parents, 21.14.12
Handbook 2, Young Women Who Are Pregnant out of Wedlock or Who Are Unwed Mothers, 10.12.4
A Act of Love Adoptions
"Single Parent Families", Ensign, 1995
"Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents"
Is LDS Family Services getting out of the adoption business?
Adoption in Utah: No place for birth fathers
Utah Laws designed to thwart birth fathers
Unwed Fathers Can't Win Against Mormons in Utah
Son by Lois Lowrey: A different kind of book today, one for the Young Adult market. Son, the last in a quartet of novels about a futuristic society, is the story of a young teen named Claire, who emerges from unconsciousness following a difficult birth to find that her child (or product) has been cut from her and is gone. In her world, people have different "tasks," and her child is assigned to others. She's not even supposed to know where he goes. But Claire cannot forget him and finds where he is. One day he is gone from the society totally. Her determined effort and intense longing to find him takes her on an epic journey and confronts her with a nearly impossible choice, but one she makes unhesitatingly. For first mothers of any age, the themes in the book will resonate. I'd like to see Son passed out at those "crisis pregnancy centers" that encourage giving your child to others over any other choice.
Oddly enough, this book was left at my local recycling center where books are left for whomever comes by. Though I was not familiar with the author, the title and book jacket appealed to me and after I read the jacket copy I was hooked. The first in the series is called The Giver, the story of a 12-year-old boy's gradual disillusionment with an outwardly utopian futuristic society. The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal, the major award for children's literature; Lois Lowrey is the author of more than 30 YA novels and has won countless honors.--lorraine