' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Romney urges single woman to give up her baby--or be outcast from LDS

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Romney urges single woman to give up her baby--or be outcast from LDS

Mitt Romney, as a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, pressured an unmarried woman to give up her unborn child to be adopted. That revelation comes from The Real Romney, a new book excerpted in the February issue of Vanity Fair.  In the book, co-authors Michael Kranish and Scott Helman tell the story of one Peggie Hayes, who had a long-time connection with the Romney family.

Hayes had joined the church with her mother, and knew the Romneys so well that as a teenager, Hayes baby-sat for the Romney boys in Boston. In her last year of high school, however, her mother abruptly moved with her daughter to Salt Lake City. Peggie married, moved to Los Angeles, had a daughter, divorced, and eventually moved back to the Boston area, where she made contact again with the Romneys. She stayed a member of the Mormon church.

In 1983, Hayes was 23, a nurses' aid struggling with her finances, and Romney was not only her church leader as her bishop, but she also thought of him as a friend. He helped find her odd jobs with other members of the church. Then Hayes became pregnant, and though marriage was not part of the equation, she looked forward to having another child. “I kind of felt like I could do it,” she is quoted as saying in the book. “And I wanted to.”

But Romney, hoeing to Mormon policy of discouraging out-of-wedlock mothers, sat down with her and "said something about the church's adoption agency." From the excerpt in Vanity Fair:
Hayes initially thought she must have misunderstood. But Romney’s intent became apparent: he was urging her to give up her soon-to-be-born son for adoption, saying that was what the church wanted. Indeed, the church encourages adoption in cases where a successful marriage is unlikely.

Hayes was deeply insulted. She told him she would never surrender her child. Sure, her life wasn’t exactly the picture of Rockwellian harmony, but she felt she was on a path to stability. In that moment, she also felt intimidated. Here was Romney, who held great power as her church leader and was the head of a wealthy, prominent Belmont family, sitting in her gritty apartment making grave demands. “And then he says, ‘Well, this is what the church wants you to do, and if you don’t, then you could be excommunicated for failing to follow the leadership of the church,’ ” Hayes recalled. It was a serious threat. At that point Hayes still valued her place within the Mormon Church. “This is not playing around,” she said. “This is not like ‘You don’t get to take Communion.’ This is like ‘You will not be saved. You will never see the face of God.’ ” Romney would later deny that he had threatened Hayes with excommunication, but Hayes said his message was crystal clear: “Give up your son or give up your God.”
Hayes gave birth to a son she named Dane. Before he was a year old, he needed risky surgery because the  bones in his head were fused together, restricting the growth of his brain. They would have to be separated. Hayes looked to her church for emotional and spiritual support, and, setting aside their uncomfortable conversation before the baby's birth, called Romney and asked him to come to the hospital to give her baby a blessing. Hayes was expecting him, but two people she didn’t know showed up instead. From VF:
She was crushed. “I needed him,” she said. “It was very significant that he didn’t come.” Sitting there in the hospital, Hayes decided she was finished with the Mormon Church. The decision was easy, yet she made it with a heavy heart. To this day, she remains grateful to Romney and others in the church for all they did for her family. But she shudders at what they were asking her to do in return, especially when she pulls out pictures of Dane, now a 27-year-old electrician in Salt Lake City. “There’s my baby,” she said.
Though this happened in 1983, but from what we read and have learned about the pro-adoption stance in Mormonism and the state of Utah, where LDS is headquartered and is extremely influential politically, we do not believe that much has changed since within official policy. A recent expose in the Salt Lake Tribune about adoption policies at Utah agencies, whether LDS agencies are not, shows that they are reflective of the kind of anti-single-mother/pro-adoption policy that Hayes says Romney trumpeted three decades ago.

It is one thing to have a leader of our country that is against a woman's right to choose to have an abortion or not; it is quite another to have a leader who is a member of an organization that so strongly urges single women to relinquish their children if they are unmarried. We have seen the "proud to be a birth mother" blogs run by Mormon women and frankly, we are appalled. Why would anyone be proud to give up a child to adoption? Yet this is the kind of brain-washing that LDS continues to perpetuate.

Church dogma is not that children must be adopted. However, church dogma unequivocally states that children are entitled to a two-parent family: "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity," is included in THE FAMILY: A Proclamation to the World, which is dogma. Elsewhere, in numerous articles in the Mormon magazine, Ensign, and at Church meetings, the Church promotes adoption as the best choice for single pregnant women. The overall take-away is that keeping a child if you are a single mother is selfish, dooming a child, not only in this life but for all eternity.

We know from communication here that not all agency workers at LDS agencies are this earnest in their efforts to have all children born to single mothers adopted by others.


One has to be a strong and brave woman to stand up against the pressures of the LDS strictures. LDS is not like Catholicism, where in America there are "cafeteria Catholics" who go to Mass on Sunday but use birth control on Saturday. To be a Mormon in good standing, the rules are strict, no exceptions. How many more mothers and children must be sacrificed in order to hoe to church dogma until the elders have a divine revelation and LDS policy changes?

In this day and age, after all that we have learned about the psychological harm to both mother and child in unnecessary adoptions, urging any mother who wants to keep her baby to give him up to strangers is cruel and unusual punishment.--lorraine
For those interested in the story about Romney driving to Canada with the family Irish setter in a box on top of the car, details emerge. Yes, the dog pooped on the way, and the runny effluence could be seen inside the car. The family stopped, cleaned up the mess, and continued. The poor pooch stayed in his cage on top of the car. From VF: It was a preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management. But the story would trail him years later on the national political stage, where the name Seamus would become shorthand for Romney’s coldly clinical approach to problem solving. Poor dog, we say.

See also:
An LDS birth mother talks about her church, search and reunion, and the LDS position on such matters
Mormon Myths and Adoption Records
Unwed Fathers Can't Win Against the Mormons in Utah
Utah's laws designed to thwart birth fathers
Adoption and the Mormon Church
Adoption Reform and the LDS Church

From the LDS website: THE FAMILY: A Proclamation to the World


  1. Actually there are A LOT of cafeteria Mormons. There is a growing movement of New Order Mormons who are rejecting the culture and dogma of conservatism that pervades Mormonism.

  2. That's a relief to hear. Maybe the Church leader will have a divine revelation regarding single mothers, as when it was revealed that blacks could be full members of the church. When was that? In the Seventies, I believe.

  3. I was glad to see the article in VF was titled "The Dark Side of Mitt Romney".

    " We have seen the "proud to be a birth mother" blogs run by Mormon women and frankly, we are appalled."

    I was shocked to see how many birth mothers wrote comments saying how grateful they are to have had the experience of relinquishing a child. I cannot imagine how anyone could be "grateful" for having such an experience. As if they preferred to have given up a child than to never have had that experience at all. That really dumbfounded me. I can imagine feeling it was the only option or the right option at the time but feeling grateful?? I wonder how their relinquished children will feel about that.

    There are many things in my life I am grateful for but I can't imagine being grateful for something I would consider a tragedy.

  4. Sometimes it takes years for trauma to be realized. Not that I would want this pain put on anyone, but in my opinion mothers who are "grateful" just don't have a clue yet to what they have done. Some of them never will. Proud is the farthest from any feeling I have ever felt when it came to relinquishing my daughter.

    As far as the Mormon church, I am not a big fan of any organized religion. I would hope that since this happened almost 30 years ago that things have begun to change.

    Those who truly live a spiritual and meaning life don't need to be told by others what to do to be a caring, contributing member of the human race.

  5. According to the book’s authors, Romney would later deny that he ever threatened excommunication, and a review of the LDS church guidelines shows that the church does not often excommunicate members in situations like this. As bishop, Romney didn’t have unilateral authority to excommunicate Hayes--that decision would have been made by a council of regional lay leaders after discussing the matter with her—and failing to give up a child for adoption is not considered a grave sin.

    As a lifelong member of Romney's church, and with a father that was a Bishop and a Stake President, I can tell you that excommunication is not done in cases like Hayes'. Romney would have known that as a Bishop, so I can't imagine why he would threaten excommunication. It doesn't make sense.

    Let me also clarify a point of Mormon doctrine. Excommunication is not seen as a ticket to hell. God has no process or plan designed to block the progression of any of His children. Excommunication is viewed as a part of the repentance process. It is the withdrawing of the baptismal and temple covenants, so that the member is no longer bound by them.

    Excommunication is not like saying "You will not be saved. You will never see the face of God." Rather, it's more like giving someone a second chance. This very clearly taught in Sunday School classes and in church publications.

    "One has to be a strong and brave woman to stand up against the pressures of the LDS strictures." Well, I don't know about that. In my 45 years as a Mormon I will say that I've seen a lot of people come and I've seen people go.

  6. Quoting from an earlier post at FMF:

    "Last summer when we wrote about LDS and adoption, we received an anonymous comment that stated:

    'In 2009 the LDS Family Services office in Dallas, TX were informed of approx. 280 pregnant unwed mothers in the neighboring Mormon congregations. Only 11 placed their babies for adoption.'

    "You know what's funny about that? Even assuming that all these women remained single when their babies were born, those numbers which the LDS office was trumpeting is approximately four times the national average of women in the U.S. who relinquish their children to adoption, which is fewer than one percent."

    The blogs of Mormon birth mothers seem to revel in how Proud they are to have complied with the Church's, er, suggestions that single women not raise their children. Yes I am sure that there are single women who do resist the pressures within the influence of LDS and keep their babies.

    I commend their strength.

    Would "failing to give up a child" be considered a sin at all, if not a "grave" sin? Kinda like "venial" sin versus "mortal" in Catholicism?

  7. And who are any of us to judge?

  8. Reader Megan pointed out that the LDS Church does not excommunicate single mothers who keep their babies and Romney would have been aware of that.

    I haven't heard of Romney denying that he told Peggy Hayes that she could be excommunicated for keeping her baby. that, however.

    It's clear from his statements during this campaign that the truth means nothing to him. He will say anything to advance his agenda regardless of the accuracy is statment or that it contradicts what he said in previous statements.

  9. You have reported that Romney helped Hayes find odd jobs with other members of the church. More support for the Romney campaign. He knows how to create jobs and put people to work. Hayes gives testimonial of this.

    Here's a citation that reports Romney later denied he threatened excommunication

  10. Sometimes messages are conveyed by body language and facial expression not neccesarily in words. I do not know either Romney or Hayes but can totally relate to her situation. I can see how she may or may not have taken what he was or was not saying out of context.

    As far as the job offers, were they offers of a substantial enough wage that she could support her family. If not then they really didn't have the intent of her being able to keep her child. Maybe just another way to intimidate her into giving her baby up?

    No religion, not just Mormon but Catholic and most others as well should have a place in a mothers womb. If is wasn't for organized religion most of us would probably have never left are babies.

  11. Sadly, I have to believe that Romney did this. In deference to those people that have grown up in the church, I too grew up Mormon. One thing I do know is that if a girl does not get married and is pregnant the pressure to "relinquish" is unrelenting.

    I would like to think that those that have been in the church for years would be more open to the realities of others that aren't "mainstream" and "blessed by the elders"- which does indeed make a difference in how you are treated and perceived. My family were poor and my father wasn't a "good" Mormon. There was a point, when my father had gone to FL to work and get a new house for us, that the bishop and his "friends" encouraged my mother to "give" them three of her children. The older two and younger two were unsuitable for placing with another family. My sister and I lived with the Bishop and his wife because the wife wanted my little sister and she would not be parted from me. I remember this well since I was 8 yr old at the time. I also remember being locked in the bedroom at meal times and any other time when no one was around. My sister was only allowed to see me when I was "good."

    So, do I believe he did that? Yes, without a doubt.

  12. I don't see how it can be inferred from Romney finding Ms. Hayes some odd jobs that this means he knows how to create jobs and get people back to work. This seems like a bit of a stretch that his experience with Ms. Hayes proves that he is the person to get the country out of the current recession.

  13. Are you kidding me by saying that the fact that Romney found odd jobs for a single mother proves that he created jobs in America and that he is not a corporate raider?


    I don't give two hoots about what religion Romney is, but to say that he is a job creator based on that information is like saying that because a teenager once babysat she is competent to head up a national chain of day care centers.

    This is the first time i have commented here but I couldn't let that stand as is.

  14. "I don't see how it can be inferred from Romney finding Ms. Hayes some odd jobs that this means he knows how to create jobs and get people back to work. This seems like a bit of a stretch..."

    Of course. Congrats, Robin. You win the prize. You came closest to getting my sense of humor.

  15. Although we're getting off the subject, I can't resist pointing out that Romney's statements about job creation are just more lies. The Washington Post awarded him three Pinoccio's for his claim that he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/mitt-romney-and-100000-jobs-an-untenable-figure/2012/01/09/gIQAIoihmP_blog.html

    Rather than backing down, Romney now claims he created 120,000 jobs.http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/debate-fact-check-romneys-120000-jobs/

  16. Megan:

    Glad to know you were joshing us.

  17. Something smells here. I can't help but think back to the last election when Romney suddenly quit his campaign & put his support behind McCain. I still say there was something more to that. Now I know it's pure speculation but I wonder if there's more to this story that we're not getting. The way I read this, it doesn't sound like this is his "first rodeo." Wonder how many other women he threatened in this same manner? Maybe one he knew a bit closer perhaps??? Just some fat I'm chewing on...



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