' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Saying goodbye to adoptee L'Wren Scott
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Saying goodbye to adoptee L'Wren Scott

L'Wren Scott in a signature look
Updated at 9:10 p.m. 3/20/14

When fashion designer L'Wren Scott committed suicide Monday, the fashion and celebrity worlds mourned; when we read that she was adopted, the adoption community perks up its ears: another one lost to suicide. 

L'Wren was adopted by Mormon parents in Utah, along with a brother and a sister. An intrepid reader found an old story that included an interview with her adoptive mother who states that she and her husband, who met and married while teenagers, turned to adoption after years of trying to have children. L'Wren's mother says that the children they adopted were all from the Salt Lake City area, and adds this crucial piece of information: "At one point Luann [L'Wren's name after adoption] said she wanted to contact her biological parents, but nothing came of it." This story is ten years old and none of the new stories mention this.



Combing through numerous press stories written since her death, I found no mention that she herself talked about her adoption to the press, or searching for her birth/first parents, or that they had ever searched for her. 

We learn that she had not spoken to her adopted sister, Jan Shane, in six years, not since their mother died. Her life, as the long-time companion of Mick Jagger, does seem worlds away from the small town of Roy, Utah, where the tall and willowy teenager surely stuck out. She was six feet tall by the time she was twelve, topping out eventually at six-three. 

One never knows all the reasons one commits suicide, but at least one friend of hers has stated that her being adopted led to her sense of isolation. Now I am going from the tabloids here, so take this with a grain of salt: Scott Tugel, 50, who says he dated her for a short time in the late 1980s, says that being adopted did bother her. 

"She would get really down and solemn about being adopted," he told The Sun. "I think she struggled with that her entire life....She didn't want to talk about her previous life. She was creating a new identity for herself." He added that her adoptive parents "did a great job" and that "she loved them deeply--but I think that was the cause of her problems." He also said that she hated that she was adopted by a Mormon family. She did end up so far from that kind of upbringing and lived a very different life as the partner of Jagger for 13 years. 

Some reports say that Jagger was breaking up with her, but he vehemently denies that. In Perth at the
Lorraine
time of her death, he and the Rolling Stones have cancelled their Australian and New Zealand sold-out concerts. On Tuesday, he wrote on his Facebook page: "I will never forget her. I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way. We had wonderful years together and had made a great life for ourselves. She had great presence and her talent was much admired, not least by me."

Her sister, who learned of L'Wren's death through Google after someone texted her, granted an interview with a British newspaper, the MailOnline, and gave them several photographs of L'Wren as a child--when she was Luann Bambrough--with family members. Shane says that L'Wren said the last time she saw her was that she, L'Wren, wished she could have children, but wasn't going to have them with Jagger. Some said she enjoyed the family life of being with his children and grandchildren, and their apartment in Paris had room for them.

Her brother Randall flew to New York to identify her body, and it has been reported that he may bring her back to Ogden, Utah to be buried near her adoptive parents. 

L'Wren's sexy but ladylike designs were worn by an international clientele that included Michelle Obama and Nicole Kidman. Jagger's front-row presence at her fashion shows guaranteed that the press would cover them. She had a deal with Banana Republic. Yet L'Wren's business was failing and was $6 million in debt. Her fall fashion show had already been cancelled.  Some reports say that Jagger had already poured millions into her company to keep it afloat as long as it was. 

L'Wren texted her assistant early Monday to come by her apartment at 10 a.m. She left no note. She would have been 50 in April. We can't help but think that out there is a tall, dark, handsome woman who recognizes herself in the person L'Wren became, and was as a child. Does her first mother recognize herself in the many pictures of the woman known as L'Wren Scott? If so, she may never have the closure of finding out, one of the many painful legacies of sealed birth records and closed adoptions.

Did L'Wren's being adopted, and not knowing her origins and first parents play at part in her feeling so despondent? We never truly know why anyone commits suicide. Yet the research is beginning to pile up that indeed, adoptees have a higher rate of suicide than the rest of us who are not adopted, who always are fully aware of our place in our own family. My daughter Jane committed suicide in 2007; I found her 1981 and we had a relationship through the years. Her birthday would have been in two weeks. I've written about her and adoptee suicide before; the FMF links below will lead to the journal articles. Tonight, in a late add to this piece I think of these lines of Frost's"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." --The Death of the Hired Man. L'Wren felt she had no place where "they" had to take her in. 

When I think about suicides such as L'Wren's and my daughter and Mirah Riben's daughter and the late writer Shana Alexander's daughter--all adopted--is that they do not get "counted" in any real way. The studies cannot or have not yet been designed to look at large population groups and just compare how many suicides there are in the general population versus the adopted cohort. And though it it unscientific to extrapolate like this--how come I personally know of so many adoptee suicides? I don't go looking for people with psychosis--I know people involved in adoption, one way or another. 

...and while I write about this death, we also mourn Jeni Gay Flock, an adoption activist, whom I knew only through Facebook. Rest In Peace, L'Wren and Jeni. Rest in Peace.--lorraine
_____________________________
SOURCES
L'Wren Scott hated adopted life
Luann wanted kids, envied my simple life and refused Mick's offer of money: L'Wren Scott's estranged sister who's married to a garbage man speaks out about her suicide and their strict Mormon upbringing 
L’Wren Scott created at the ‘height’ of fashion

ADOPTEE SUICIDE
Adoptees more likely to commit suicide
My Daughter's Suicide
Remembering My Daughter on the Anniversary of her Death

RECOMMENDED READING
The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories Edited by Susan Wadia-Ells
With eloquence and conviction, more than 30 diverse birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees tell their adoption stories and explore what is a deeply emotional, sometimes controversial, and always compelling experience that affects millions of families and individuals. 

48 comments :

  1. So very sad. Thanks for your poignant write-up about L'Wren Scott. It was multi-faceted and did justice to her life as a whole, while maintaining the core of her being an adoptee.

    I am sure many things contributed to her tragic suicide - its ideation is so complex. But I also am almost certain that identity issues played a role. I could see how adoptees might feel a particular need to invent an identity, given that they were denied one by being moved into another family. I believe L'Wren Scott did exactly that.

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  2. This is a link to an old article where L'Wren's adopted mother says that at one point, she wanted to search for her birth family, but that nothing ever came of it, whatever that means. Here's the link:http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Mick's+found+a+loin+tamer%3B+EXCLUSIVE%3A+JAGGER+AT+60+..+HOOKED+ON+A+6ft...-a0105901103

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  3. Here is what the link leads to: Her parents, Lula and Ivan - who died 18 months ago - met when they were at school and married as teenagers, but decided to adopt after years of trying for a baby.

    "The kids were all from the Salt Lake City area," explains Lula. "In those days it was quite difficult to adopt but we were blessed. We adopted Randy first and then Jan and then Luann. It was wonderful.

    "We were very upfront with the children and they knew from an early age that they were adopted.

    "At one point Luann said she wanted to contact her biological parents, but nothing came of it."

    I am going to add it to the post... thank you anonymous--why the anonymous? You added something important I had not been able to find.

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  4. Lorraine - that's a beautiful memorial to L'Wren Scott. I knew her, not well, but in one of our conversations she mentioned she was adopted. I asked her if she had ever tried to find her birth parents. She said no. Then she added: "I have no idea who I am. I have to keep inventing myself."

    Take a look at Mick Jagger's facebook page where he posts a 'lover letter' to L'Wren after her death. It is so telling that the photo he chose of her the woman he was supposed to love...is a picture of L'wren...beautiful...but all alone. Heartbreaking.

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  5. I'm glad you found the article from ten years ago interesting. I just find L'Wren Scott's story fascinating and sad, and I think that her being adopted had an influence on her life and who she became, and how she died.

    I find L'Wren's Utah/Mormon background interesting as I have some Utah and Mormon ancestry, thus I have read a lot of news articles about her. It's my guess (since so many people in Utah are Mormon), that one or both of her birth parents was Mormon, even though she came far from that background. The fact she was so tall is very interesting; that's what led her to go into fashion. Her height of course, would have come from one of her birth parents, possibly both.It's kind of sad she never found more about her background.Perhaps if she had, she would have known who she was.

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  6. Where have I been? I'd never heard of L'Wren--had I? Not sure--having given up on keeping track of Mick Jagger's lovers. But it's a sad and respectful tribute, Lorraine. Thank you. Coming so close to the anniversary of your daughter's death, it must have been doubly hurtful. The two Lost Girls will now be forever linked in my mind, and yours as well.

    May the memories of L'Wren and Lorraine's Jane endure as a blessing. And, tragically, as a cautionary tale about the hydra-headed legacy of adoption.

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  7. I think it's difficult to draw those parallels, especially with something so complex as suicide.

    Presuming her death, was at least in part, due to her adoptive status is tantamount to also crediting any successes she had in her life to being adopted.

    Would she have strived so hard for a life of celebrity? Pushed herself so hard?

    Creative people, celebs and those within their circle are often plagued with troubles, substance abuse and self esteem issues: you have only to look at recent headlines to see that is factual.

    Could the recent death of her adoptive parents played a factor? Relationship angst with Jagger? Her unfulfilled desire to have children? Professional challenges?.....the list goes on.

    So hard to say.

    Jade

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  8. The last of her adoptive parents died six years ago.

    My sense is that many things were not going well: Jagger said he wasn't going to "date" anyone over 50; no matter what he said, it's hard to know if their relationship was going forward, even though he gave her a stunning antique diamond ring; it was reported somewhere that the other members of the band didn't want L'Wren Scott on tour with them; her own business was failing, despite the popularity of her designs. Add into that the sense of mortal aloneness she felt without the ties of family--no children of her own, a sister she had not been in touch with--she may have been in touch with her brother for his financial acumen--and no connection to a biological family that she would have felt completely at home in--maybe a six-foot plus sister? When the band went on tour she went to Jagger's house on Mustique for several days, but was not seen by the locals.

    Clearly, her lack of biological family could be seen as a part of the solitary feeling she felt. This is the aspect of adoption that the people who make the laws forgot about. This is the aspect of adoption that first mothers do not hear about--even today--when they hand over their children. Adoption in America will one day be seen as a failed social experiment.

    These lines of Robert Frost spring to mind: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." --The Death of the Hired Man.

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    1. That poem always made me wince and then grow angry, as my bparents did not feel they "had to take me in."

      My situation was rather unusual, granted, but when studying Colonial America I was fascinated by indentured servitude--it bore so many similarities to the grudging basics I was expected to earn!

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  9. RIP..so sorry to hear of this. I feel that I can sorta understand..I attempted suicide myself. I am not an adoptee..but I am a foster child.

    Lorraine invited me to comment, so I am. I was not a foster child from parents who made mistakes..my parents died when I was 13. I was fostered by the parents of a very good friend. I honestly did not know I was a foster..I thought my friend's parents had just opened their home to me.

    I feel for L'Wren..I don't know how hard it may have been for her as an adoptee to an LDS family. As a Catholic, fostered by a really Protestant family..it was hard.

    I wonder if she was told, as I was, how grateful I should be to have a good home?

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  10. More musings, and added to the post:

    When I think about suicides such as L'Wren's and my daughter and Mirah Riben's daughter and the late writer Shana Alexander's daughter--all adopted--is that they do not get "counted" in any real way. The studies cannot or have not yet been designed to look at large population groups and just compare how many suicides there are in the general population vesus the adopted popultion. And though it is unscientific to extrapolate like this--how come I personally know of so many adoptee suicides?

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    1. Didn't know about Shana Alexander's daughter, Lorraine... Ow.

      Because you are receptive to the possibilities--the probabilities--that adoptees will have unresolved grief issues that may lead as far as suicide, so too can you grit your teeth and acknowledge the hard facts when they occur.

      You are "preternaturally attuned to the sound of voices not even raised," as Joan Didion wrote of the brain-damaged four-year-old who smashed a Victorian bisque doll against an antique mirror during an Xmas visit in "Play It As It Lays" with her mother and two friends. "She misses Carter [her father]," murmurs the hostess.

      "You don't know what you're talking about," retorts the host husband. Then the child's eyes dart back and forth, and "preternaturally attuned...," begins to scream.

      Gives a frisson to realize that Didion's adopted daughter was about the same age while the book was being written.

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  11. I was 13!! I had good and really wonderful parents..who died. I was told " aren't you lucky you have had good parents for a few years". In a small town..I still cannot believe that people from my own home town dissed my parents like that.

    I am not like foster kids who were bounced about from home to home. I am a foster kid who didn't even know..and then found out that I wasn't QUITE the same as a biological.

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  12. This is so sad. I can relate to the feeling that I would rather die than face what I have to face on a particular day.

    And yes, I think it has everything to do with her being an adoptee. I have noticed that many, many adoptees suffer from a particular anxiety that causes them to overreact, an anxiety which normal people cannot understand. Yes, I say normal because in no way is it normal to be adopted.

    You simply cannot compare adoptees to the rest of the population. They belong in a class of their own.

    It is offensive that an above commenter would dismiss the notion that L’Wren was at all bothered by her adoptee status throughout her life. Of course we don’t know much about her situation but just as many or even more assumptions can be made suggesting that adoption had been an ongoing problem for her.

    And Mick Jagger is no prize. He certainly is unavailable. She settled for a relationship where she remained alone and lonely. That meaningless relationship cannot be called a success. I can be quite sure she was the ultimate people pleaser and Mick had his way 100% of the time.

    Thank you Lorraine for writing about this. I am sorry you lost your daughter to adoption and suicide. It is so tragic. I wish the correlation would be recognized and people would see adoption in a more critical way.

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  13. It is as offensive to say that it has "everything" to do with her being an adoptee as it is to dismiss the notion that she was bothered by it, and to group all adoptees into "a class of their own", as if their adopted status is the one thing that defines them, is reductive.

    L'Wren Scott was one woman in a very particular situation. This we know. She was raised religiously in the LDS church. She has been described as highly perfectionistic and she lived in a world populated by celebrities where how a person is perceived is often more important than who they really are.
    *Of course* there are identity issues specific to adoptees, especially those whose adoptions are closed, that can make it difficult to develop the emotional resiliency that comes with a strong sense of self.

    A sensitive and revealing article, "Memories of a friend, a teacher and a fighter" about L'Wren Scott, written by L'Wren's friend Cathy Horn, was published in the NY Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/fashion/lwren-scott-remembered-by-cathy-horyn.html?_r=2

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  14. She may have inherited a genetic mental illness that led to her having difficulties. hard to know very sad. I don't think anyone should try to use her death to promote a cause though. it is a dishonor to assume anything about her life if you don't know. I would not like strangers making assumptions about me.

    Lorraine you are so immersed in the adoption world you no doubt are more aware than most.

    I do think living with the fact that your biological mother gave you away for whatever reason must be a very hard fact to absorb.

    I don't think you need to be told this by an agency. this is just part of being human. most people do not relinquish their children and those who do are sometimes in desperate circumstances. but even in the babyscoop era, over 91 percent of unmarried women did not give up their babies for adoption.

    also you don't know if she would have felt perfectly at home in her biological family! have you ever noticed many non adopted people feel alienated and that many of them commit suicide too.

    we all know tragic cases, I think, in which someone who seemingly was so happy commits suicide. I know a few people who have committed suicide and none were adopted.

    this is just a tragic story all around.

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  15. Lorraine makes her point clearly in this post that there are a multitude of factors that contribute to an individual's decision to take their own life and that it is probably not possible to completely isolate which factor had the most effect.

    However, I believe that those of us who know firsthand the enormous pain that adoption can cause, and who do not see adoption through the starry eyes of adoption industry, would be remiss to not address the fact that the negative emotions caused by adoption could most certainly be a contributing factor in an adoptee's suicide.

    One thing that really stood out to me in L'Wren's story was her estrangement from her adoptive sister. In my personal experience (and I realize this is by no means universal) biological sisters tend to have some of the closest relationships, having both the shared experience of gender and genetics. I was also raised with a sister (my APs bio-kid) and I can't imagine two females being raised as 'sisters' who were more different. Oh, we tried, we really did. We tried to be close, but we are so incredibly different that it just never worked. I can understand the type of isolation that might have caused for L'Wren in her adoptive family.

    Also, one of the people close to L'Wren, who was interviewed for this story, mentioned that she accepted Mick seeing other women, despite it causing her a great deal of emotional pain. Was that part of her adoptee low self-esteem? Of course, we'll never know for sure, but I think it is very reasonable and astute to acknowledge that the effect of being adopted could very well have increased her personal pain to such a degree that she (tragically) felt suicide was the only way out.

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  16. Anon,
    What's your source for writing "even in the babyscoop era, over 91 percent of unmarried women did not give up their babies for adoption"?

    From my experience, almost all white women in the 50's and 60's gave up their babies and almost all black women kept them.

    I know of only two women who kept their babies before 1970 and they were shamed, not for getting pregnant but for doing the "selfish, immature thing".

    After 1970, the tide began to turn and it took a dramatic turn after Roe v. Wade in 1973.

    Today, many of the women who give up their babies are not in desperate circumstances. Rather, they are seduced into giving up their babies in order to assure them a better (i.e. richer) life. The adoption industry brags that "their mothers" are competent, drug and alcohol free, mature women, not riffraff. In others words, the mothers are the sort of women prospective adoptive parents want for their babies.

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  17. I wonder if L'Wren ever seriously searched for her birth mother, or birth parents? She seems to have had a desire to, and she obviously was a person who made her own identity, and was likely curious as to what may have contributed to it. It seems she never seriously looked into it, perhaps aware of how hard it can be at times to find information on adoptions.

    Or perhaps she wasn't ready to know or to deal with what she might find out. It's hard to say. Even if she had looked, she may not have found out anything, but it's pretty much certain she never tried to find her birth mother. It's possible that depression or something like that ran in one of the families of her biological parents.

    I do think L'Wren never having had children of her own(along with having no other biological family, and her adoptive parents being dead) may have contributed to her suicide. If she had a child or children, then she would have had some biological family, even if she didn't know her full background.

    She sounds like she was a very private, reserved person, and therefore it's hard to say what may or may not have contributed to her suicide. It certainly sounds like the main reason was her failing business, and that some issues about her relation ship with Jagger perhaps played a role, like not being invited on tour with the Rolling Stones.

    This maybe inaccurate, but it seems like she lived to work in fashion, and that her design business had become her identity and her life. So therefore, when her business got into financial trouble, she felt the only life and identity she had slipping away from her. It's true she could have become a designer for another company, or gone back to being a stylist. It wasn't so much finances that led her to kill herself, I feel, as loss of her identity? and her design company, which was her life.

    If she had a child or had family or had something else besides fashion to give herself an identity, she may have had something to fall back on, even though her design business wasn't doing well. She obviously never found an identity in being a rock star girlfriend, as some women would have. She wanted to be known in her own right. In the end, perhaps her story is an illustration that it's good to have an identity outside work, whether it's a hobby or family, or even friends.

    Her hobby was mostly her work, fashion. She sounds like she was her own person, and not a person who found identity through others, or perhaps someone who had never experienced that, given that she was adopted. It's sad she could not see that her life wasn't over when her fashion design company was perhaps over. In the end, given that she was so private, it's so hard to say what exactly contributed to her suicide, we can only speculate. There's certainly lessons to be learned from her life and death.

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  18. Did being an adoptee play a role in L'Wren's suicide? None of us can answer that question definitively.

    But, it is important to address the possibility that it did.

    Who else is openly discussing that being an adoptee could have contributed to her suicide? Certainly, the media isn't.

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  19. I just caught that 91 percent.

    For white, middle class women from the 40s to the mid-70s the percentage who gave them up is close to 91 percent. All the studies I have found--and I have combed the research looking for them--point to a very high percentage. The shame was too great to allow any but the bravest with understanding families to keep their children. And not that many white, middle class families were understanding. The zeitgeist was to give up the children so they could have a two-parent family and the intense shame of the birth mother could be lessened with time, or by moving to a new city and "starting over."

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  20. I read the LWren did not bother to look for her bparents. Maybe because she, right fully so, saw her aparents/family as her family, which they were.

    Not every adoptee looks or is lost ( if that were the case, many reunions would not fail). Maybe as one of the poster said, she suffered from some sort of genetic mental illness or just despondent because her business and life wasn't where she wanted it to be.

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  21. “It is as offensive to say that it has "everything" to do with her being an adoptee as it is to dismiss the notion that she was bothered by it, and to group all adoptees into "a class of their own", as if their adopted status is the one thing that defines them, is reductive.”

    Adopted status is one identifier, not the one identifier. There are many others such as gender, race, birth order and whatever else society deems relevant. In order to see how adoptees fare as compared with the non-adopted they would have to be distinguished. The resistance to put adoptees into their own category makes it impossible to study specific correlations.

    The anxiety stems from adoption. I believe that one hundred percent because I personally identify. Nice try at mocking me, anonymous.

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  22. Isn't Utah a very closed state that is hard to search in, even with all their genealogical records? From the comments we do know she said--some to my friend Kiana Davenport--it is clear that L'Wren thought about her biological parents. In closed records states, it can be so hard to even imagine searching.

    Does anyone know what it is like to search in Utah? Please tell us.

    I read Frost's "The Death of the Hired Man" in high school and it had a lasting impression on me. Mrs. Tarquin BB. It is telling.

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  23. Searching in Utah for birth parents is **EXTREMELY** difficult, and not just because of their closed records, but more importantly due to the social stigma involved with being an adoptee and the cultural belief of "eternal" family units.


    Within the LDS church, when a child is adopted, they are then "sealed" to the adoptive parents in an ordinance ceremony performed in the temple. From that point forward, in the eyes of the LDS church (and the predominant culture in Utah), the child belongs to the adoptive family, not just in this life, but into the eternities, too. That is how adoptee's genealogy is traced within the LDS church records. (I know this first-hand as I am an adoptee "super-lite", meaning I was adopted by a step-parent when I was 26). However, there is the option once all parties to the adoption have passed away to have the natural/birth family's genealogy listed as an alternate lineage, along side the adoptive parent's lineage.

    LDS adoptees are taught their adoptive family is their eternal family (via the sealing ordinance) and their birth family was simply a way to get them to the "right" parents. They are raised in a culture steeped in the idea it is "God's will" they grow up in their adoptive family. While the policy has changed, up until November 2010, LDS adoptees were actively discouraged by the LDS church from searching for their natural families.

    Even if an LDS adoptee can overcome the gravitational pull of the LDS culture which soundly and strongly discourages searching for natural families, they are then met with some of the most onerous and strict of all closed records laws.

    Whenever I hear of an Utah-born LDS adoptee seeking out and successfully finding their natural family, it is always something akin to a miracle to me. The odds are stacked against them, both from a legal point of view and from a cultural one, too.

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  24. I keep coming back to the statements which have been made about L'Wren's sadness over not having children. This can be particularly devastating for those of us raised within the LDS church. While I know L'Wren was not active in the LDS church when she passed away, I can't help but wonder how much of the teachings from her early years affected her thinking in the days and moments leading up to her suicide. After all, social sciences have shown how much our early years affect later choices in life. Might it be so with L'Wren, too?

    In my church, (the LDS church), being a mother is the most important thing to which a woman can aspire. While other talents and interests might be nice, NOTHING should get in the way of being a mother, and our education and learning should ideally be focused on motherhood and the attendant responsibilities.

    We are taught from a very young age that our eternal identities is tied up in being a mother. "There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood" (M. Russell Ballard). Further, we as members of the LDS church are taught, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” and "The noblest calling in the world is motherhood" (David O. McKay) and "There is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God" through motherhood (Jeffery R. Holland). Further, "the role of motherhood emphasizes the nurturing and teaching of the next generation" (L. Tom Perry) and "There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood (James E. Faust).

    L'Wren was raised in an active LDS home by active LDS parents who would have taught her these things. She would have heard them at church, had them reinforced in her hour long daily seminary classes, and at least once a week during her weekly youth group activity. It is hard, if not nearly impossible, to break free from something you have been steeped in for the the first 18 years of your life.

    Regardless of how far L'Wren strayed from the LDS church, those teachings would still be there in her mind and heart. As twisted as it is, within the LDS culture (note: I did NOT say theology), women who can't or don't have children are treated like second class citizens. It doesn't matter WHAT THEY ACCOMPLISH, it will NEVER, EVER, EVER measure up to the 22-year old married woman who already has 2 kids and is pregnant with baby #3 because she is a mother.

    In the LDS culture, it doesn't matter if you run a massive publishing company or hold a tenured chair at Harvard - success "outside the home" will NEVER compensate for "failing" inside the home, which in the view of the LDS culture, is "failing" to be a mother. In the quiet hours of the morning, when L'Wren would wake up all alone, I wonder if those thoughts didn't come back to her: Her success in life did not compensate for failing to be a mother and as such, she was less-than those who did have children.

    So, in addition to the adoptee stuff and financial issues, I can't help but wonder if L'Wren wasn't struggling with those patriarchal and misogynistic teachings about her eternal worth being tied up in whether she was a mother or not.

    Just some thoughts from an active, temple recommend holding, tithing paying, LDS first mom.

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  25. I am an active LDS member who was from and adopted to an active LDS home.

    I hate that I have to give my credentials but I grew up with very loving parents and had a happy childhood. I love my parents and siblings that I was raised with. I am the poster child for successful adoptions.

    I found my mother 6 months ago after 24 years of wanting to search in Utah. I can't say that Utah is any harder than the other closed states but it is very hard to get information. I felt hopeless for years that I would find any information. It seemed futile to want to search. (And if you asked me if I wanted to search even up to 8 years ago I would tell you "No, I have really great parents." even though there was a desire)

    At 18 (1990) I asked LDSSS if I could find my first mom and tell her I safe and happy and get medical records - that's all one communication. I have a chronic disease that could be genetic and wanted medical records. They told me I would need a psych evaluation for just wanting to have contact. I gave up because I knew I wasn't crazy but they made it seem like I must be if I wanted to search for my birth mother. I put the desire to find my mother in the back of my mind. After all, I didn't need to find her for me - I had really great parents.

    I had NOTHING to go on. Two index cards that I saw in a file when I was 16. One from the "baby orphanage" with my feeding schedule and one with a line for each of my parents with their ages, eye, hair color, weight, height, interests and ancestral background - which was all wrong - except my father's height and hair color.

    It wasn't until I took a DNA test at Ancestry a year ago that I got some momentum and courage to call LDS Family Services again. I have to give the LDSFS credit, this time they treated me with respect and empathy. The caseworker even said "Of course you have a desire to know where you came from. It is natural, that is why Mormon's do genealogy." They took my information ordered my non-ID information for me.

    I was in the middle of a cross-country move and it took months for me to be able to pick up the information in person- which is required.

    It took so long that I had already used the DNA, Ancestry and FamilySearch.org and a lot of luck/inspiration to find my mother. Which turned out to be a huge blessing because once I received my LDSS post adoption papers the information was wrong... I feel that it was common practice in the 1970s to falsify these documents but I have nothing to base that on. Both my first mother and father were shocked at how incorrect the information was.

    My first mom had even less to search for me. She was only given her hospital discharge papers.

    I am grateful for the family that raised me but I will never be happy or grateful that I was relinquished. These are two separate events. Just as I can want to search for my biological roots even though I deeply love my adoptive family - two separate issues. Please stop clumping these things together.

    My theory on adoptees and suicide is - we feel like we weren't really suppose to be - we are after all a mistake no matter what our parents told us about being "special" and "chosen" the rest of the world tells "adoption means you were a mistake" (quote from my 3rd grade teacher) - No matter what brought us to that dark moment of complete hopelessness it is easy to justify the final act of taking our life when it was never ours to live in the first place.

    From an adoptee's point of view - Being in reunion is hard but I think "unsuccessful" reunions are hampered by unacknowledged wounds and navigating the complexities of Self and loyalty to not by a desire to be successfully reunited with our family of origin.

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  26. Lorraine - I found the 91% at statistics.adoption.com

    91 percent of unmarried woman up until 1972 did not give up their babies for adoption.

    you are correct about a difference along race. African American did not give up a much higher rate, close to 98% kept their babies

    White woman did not relinquish in 82 percent of the cases. 18 percent did give up their babies.

    so for the most part the vast majority of unmarried women did NOT give up their babies in the baby scoop era.


    According to stats, nowadays, the girls/women who give up their children tend to be higher income and better educated with some college than those who do not.

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  27. It amazes me that we cannot even find accurate statistics across the board.

    We have anonymous saying that up until 1971, 91% of all single women kept their children. This statistic can also be found at this government site: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_place.cfm

    And, we have Lorraine saying that only about 9% of white middle class women kept their children.

    And, if anonymous and the U.S. Department of Health & Services are correct, I feel even worse about my adoption because it means that most women went against society and raised their children.

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  28. Those stats pointed to here about percentages of relinquishments are very inconclusive before 1973and furthermore this is noted:

    The study of relinquishment is hampered by a number of limitations. Fisher (2003) notes several of these:

    Many studies use biased samples of women who have self-selected by volunteering to report.

    A study from the Bureau of Public Assistance, published in 1960, states: "Possibly as many as 70 percent of all white illegitimate children are given for adoption." It's in a book called Illegitimacy and It's Impact on the Aid to Dependent Children Program. The study goes on to say there are "regional differences." In my particular region, social class, and religion...I'm sticking with the 90 percentile. There are no totally accurate statistics available.

    For more information, look up Rickie Solinger's studies.
    .

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  29. A factor that changed the percentage "rate" of "kept babies" in the early 70s was the legalization of abortion *before* Roe v Wade. Abortion began to be legalized in 1967 in the USA ..with the state of Colorado being the first state to legalize abortion.

    The Guttmacher Institute has an interesting paper that claims an impact on adoption stats in the early 1970s. Their figure shows a drop in the early 70s adoption rate to be around 34% *before* Roe v Wade.(Bitler and Zavodny, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Jan/Feb 2002)

    About 17 states had legalized abortion to some extent before Roe.

    Conditions in the 1970s, even before Roe, were different enough to effect adoption numbers...and single mother stats. I knew couples who were co-habiting in the early 70s and having kids.
    The birth certificate would still, most likely, name a single mother...even though she would be raising the child with a partner.

    With regard to reliable relinquishment and adoption stats during the baby scoop, it is hard to get them.Court records were not uniformly reported. And, babies who were kept were not necessarily raised by their mothers. Family members or even distant relatives often raised the child.
    However,adoption numbers generally were high, for white women. Here is a good descriptive quote of the scoop era:

    " No one knows how many women gave their babies away in adoption before Roe v Wade. Many adoptions were handled by agencies, but thousands were managed by doctors, lawyers, ministers, and others, who kept no records. Estimates, however, do suggest numbers in the neighborhood of a couple hundred thousand a year in the 1950s and much of the 1960s." Beggars and Choosers:How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the US, Rickie Solinger,Hill and Wang.NYC (2001)p.44

    It is sad that L'Wren was separated from her kin and was unable to reconnect to them. I have admired her talent for years. ..but did not know of her adoption. She was lovely as were her designs.

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  30. Jane and I relinquished in the 60s, which were not the swinging sixties of the popular imagination. Certainly not where Jane and I lived. The 50s mindset was clearly still in play. In my first apartment, I was told without question "no men overnight." The year was 1964; if that had not been the rule, it is likely...I would have married someone else and not had a child given up to be adopted. Because the young man I almost married would have spent the night.

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  32. Anon,
    What did Adoption.com cite as its authority for claiming that 82 percent of white women up and to 1972 did not relinquish?

    What is the beginning of this time period? If you begin at the beginning of recorded history, it's likely that most white women did keep their babies.

    If you begin in the late 1940's, that statistics would be quite different.

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  33. Well, in a 1970 study in Amsterdam (NL) most unmarried women giving birth did keep, mind you 31% of them were getting married...

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  34. Studies in the Netherlands are vastly different than what was happening in the U.S. and have little to no bearing on figures for the U.S. Your country also has had legalized marijuana and prostitution for quite a long time. Big difference.

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  35. Of course being adopted may have factored into L'Wren's Scott sad choice. To think otherwise is to be completely dismissive of one possible contributor her psychological identity. In the mental health field, all possible contributors to a mental health issue are considered- you cannot outright toss out being adopted simply because it makes some people uncomfortable to acknowledge that this can (notice the "can") contribute to negative feelings for an adoptee.

    I have no patience for adoptive parents (or anyone, but my biggest peeve is with APs who should be highly cognizant for their children's sake) who ignore that a person is the sum of many factors, experiences, and influences. Being adopted should be considered a possible factor for any mental issues experienced by an adoptee. Additional factors should also be considered, but let's not just wholly toss one right on out.

    This made me think of how many LGBT young people we lose to suicide. LGBT youth have a suicide rate 4x times as high as the general population. If an LBGT youth commits suicide, is it furthering an agenda to consider that their sexual identity might have factored into their choice? Is it insisted on by the general populace that of course that could never factor because the youth had a "happy life" with "good parents?" No, of course not. It's usually just the opposite, actually. We know and acknowledge that being LGBT puts youth at a higher risk due to the societal pressures associated with their sexual orientation. Why do we not acknowledge the same for adoptees??

    All Lorraine has done in this article is acknowledge that one facet of L'Wren's identity might have caused stress, depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, all of which may have led to suicide. Now, there are, I am quite sure, a subset of LGBT youth who commit/attempt suicide for reasons unrelated to their sexual preferences because humans are complicated beings, and we are the sum of many parts, not just one single trait. The same may be said (as Lorraine clearly did) of L'Wren- other factors may have been wholly or even partially responsible. But to outright dismiss the notion that being adopted MIGHT have contributed is to completely ignore one whole facet of who L'Wren Scott was. She didn't leave a note, so we can never know what happened. It is sad all the way around, but human beings are forever seeking answers to sad events, so I don't see why it's wrong to do so here.

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  36. Very different countries indeed, but the similarities would amaze you, however the point I tried to make, was that late shotgun weddings seem to have been more common than you would think, in the USA too. But indeed, statistics on frequencies are hard to find if one has little time.

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  37. My daughter was adopted by a Mormon family, was raised in the Church, and is still a an active member of the LDS Church. She began searching for me in 1986 when she was 19 and a student at BYU. She persisted until we reunited 11 years later.

    She had a roommate who was a first mother who made my daughter believe her first mother wanted to be found. My daughter knew nothing of Orphan Voyage, ALMA, CUB, AAC, or any search and reunion organization. She did the searching on her own with help from her fiance, later her husband. Her adoptive parents and her adopted brother strongly opposed her search.

    Reading about the LDS Church's opposition to opening records and searching makes me realize how committed she was. An amazing woman!

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  38. mari, I also have days, weeks, months in which I have a difficult time deciding which is better: the hard path forward or ending it. I understand the choice that L'Wren made. I don't understand it when people like Anonymous and others dismiss being adopted as a variable in identity and personality as a rhetorical device. They don't know. They're not adopted. Or if they are, well, maybe they're the "lucky" ones that everyone's always on about. Seems more likely they're part of the crowd that enjoy being the empirical police.

    I hear you on the anxiety, and the masks. Whenever I hear of adoptee suicide, I think, "Oh no, another one." And I cry.

    You are so right about the lack of studies specifically on adoptees. Who is going to fund research that will look at the psychological outcomes of adoption on a large cohort of adoptees? And construct a study that relies on self-report of adult adoptees, for example, and not the narratives of adoptive parents? I am tired, so very tired, of studies that are based on subjective accounts of adoptive parents. NO. No more of those. Please, please, someone design a study with a decent sample size. Something like the Minnesota Twin Study, which has still been largely overlooked. Because, you know, genes only *really* matter when you're born into a family and *stay* there.

    I identified so strongly with what Elle Cuardaigh wrote, apropos of L'Wren's passing: "Because adoptees often feel as if they were not born. And when you were not born, it’s not so hard to die."

    Until people stop telling us that adoption is only a little thing, only a tiny part of our identity, that we're making mountains out of molehills, that we shouldn't speak for others, that they know so much more than we do....these suicides won't stop. It's hard to bury so much *not* being.




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  39. I am so sick of the fact of being adopted being dismissed as a particularly painful issue in a person's life that could have grave psychological consequences. And, most especially, when it is so often individuals who are not adopted doing the dismissing. Why are so many people adverse to the idea that being given up by one's own parents (which, imo, is the most profound rejection any person could possibly face) could cause serious emotional damage? I can understand why the adoption industry doesn't want to look at this issue. They would lose money. But what is behind the average person on the street's reluctance to look at adoption for what it is? I don't believe anyone really wants to spend their life not living with their blood relatives or not even knowing who they are. The only people who would want to be adopted, and for whom adoption is appropriate, are those who have truly been abandoned or those who come from abusive families.

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  40. Robin said "The only people who would want to be adopted, and for whom adoption is appropriate, are those who have truly been abandoned or those who come from abusive families."

    And even then, I think there could still be a struggle within that person dealing with the loss of biological connections, no matter how unworthy. Perhaps a longing for things to have been better within their own biological family or a wish that their adoptive family was actually their bio family. Even when there are good reasons for adoption to occur, it doesn't erase that the real human beings behind the system have feelings, and feelings are not always logical.

    One thing I plan on conveying to my adopted daughter is that conflicting emotions are an acceptable and even natural part of life, one that is not unique to adoptees but is society often tries to make it unacceptable for them.

    It's ok to love your adoptive family and not want to change your connection to them, while at the same time, long for your bio family and wish that you could have stayed with them. Polarity of feelings does not make one feeling wrong and one right- they can both be equally right even though they are incapable of existing at the same time.

    I had a miscarriage with my first child, and it broke my heart. Some months later, I became pregnant again and gave birth to my daughter. Years later, I still long for and miss my first child. I would not have my oldest daughter or likely my youngest had my first pregnancy gone to term. I do not want to trade my two living children for my lost child, but I couldn't have my two daughters if I had my lost child. I want ALL three of my children with me in this life, even though that is logically impossible. Still, it does not stop my heart from feeling as it feels and longing for the two impossible extremes to somehow co-exist even though I know they cannot.

    Such is life. It is full of conflicting emotions. An adoptee's longing for her biological connections, a wish that her adoption hadn't had to occur, love for her first mother and father, or any other emotion does not in any way negate love for her adoptive parents or happiness in her current life. They are simply emotions of the heart that while impossible to exist all together are no less real or valid for all that. And they shouldn't be so threatening.

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  41. Tiffany, great comment!

    Adoption is a very tricky thing. My parents were both dead when I was 13. I was not "abandoned", I had a good foster family, and I would NOT have wanted to be adopted.

    I also lost a child to miscarriage, and I still miss him. Early miscarriage, and I still remember him as Francis. (Too early to know..but I still named him after he/she was gone.)

    Complex feelings, indeed.

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  42. Have you read The Girl Behind the Door-about Casey Brookes? About adoption, attachment disorder and suicide. Very sad and moving.

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  43. Tiffany, very well spoken about adoption, the struggle, conflicting emotions and life.

    Every adoption situation carries pain and loss with it, regardless of the circumstances. In my son Lenny's case, it was clear that he needed to be taken away from his natural family - for his protection. His first parents absolutely did not want to place him for adoption. In my opinion (doesn't mean I know how Lenny will feel), that fact should comfort Lenny - that his parents "placing" him for adoption is not part of his story. That they tried their hardest to keep him. On the other hand, the factors that led to his being taken into foster care: the addictions, the crimes, pervasive throughout his first family, might cause him much pain. Perhaps he will feel relieved that he was taken away from the abuse and placed in a more stable situation, but I doubt (especially seeing my son's very sensitive nature) that the conflict won't be there. In fact he often mentions that he wishes his "parents where he first began to live" had not become addicted, so they could have taken care of him. There will be complex feelings, regardless of how he handles them now or in the future. Adoption is never a clean, cut-and-dry package.

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  44. Many people who commit suicide DO have children. Scott's background and lack of children may not have been as relevant as believed. She seems to be another tragic statistic in an emerging pattern of 40-somethings who find themselves in a spiral of depression. The belief that we would do better than our parents--that monetary success would define us -- seems to be at work. It's a hard lesson: many of us have ample reasons to be thankful, and how we measure our life's worth needs a more expansive reassessment.

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  45. I never knew I was adopted until I was 19, after my adopted father died of lung cancer. I always suspected, and felt I was, especially when my adopted mother would become frustrated with us as young children and make statements such as "take somebody else's kids and raise them." There were whisperings at the parochial school my adopted brother and I attended about our being adopted. It seems everyone knew but us. It's far better to be honest and upfront with adoptees from very early on. As an adoptee born in 1959, of Mormom heritage raised by Catholics, whose birth mother hailed from Idaho and Utah, I can identify with many of the issues raised and comments stated. My adoption story is one that I joke "my book and my movie will be out in two years." Not funny but concise. I began searching for medical reasons as I had 2 lumpectomies, both benign. I searched for 12 yrs- from age 19 to 31 ( before the internet was invented). At age 31, I sent a request to the LDS genealogy dept and it was matched to my birth mother. The only info I had was a name and location. My birth mother received the request and decided to contact me. After 12 years of searching, that took 10 days! She was motivated to meet me because she had suffered a recent loss in the death of her favorite daughter killed by a drunk driver. Another daughter drowned at age 3 while in the care of her grandparents. Two sisters I mourn for and will never meet on Earth. I am one of 7 from my Mormon birth mother. I have yet to locate my birth father as my birth mother will not provide info. Very disappointing. Reading thru the previous comments regarding the Mormon culture and difficulty in locating birth parents, my match with my birth mother was relatively easy, although it was agonizing at the time. For years I did not understand how anyone could ever willingly give up a child. Years later, I am thankful I was given up, although my adopted mother was extremely emotionally and verbally abusive. However, she valued education, and I excelled at school, which fostered a path for me to "succeed." Although I felt melancholy and suicidal beginning at age 16, once I became a mother, that was no longer an option. Those thoughts faded: I had never taken action, but felt despair. I am a college grad, my 2 sons are college grads, one with an MBA. I recently retired from corporate America. I too studied fashion design, sewed my own clothes etc. I am married but am estranged from my adoptive brother. Bottom line- I wish L'Wren would have found her birth parents, siblings, extended family. When I found my birth mother's side of my gene pool, I felt as though I had come full circle. Many questions were tacitly answered, simply by visual observation. Perhaps it would have given L'Wren a sense of "from whence she came." The sad truth is, now no one will ever know.

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