' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Utah's anti-father policies an offshoot of Mormon agenda

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Utah's anti-father policies an offshoot of Mormon agenda

Wes Hutchins, a Utah adoption attorney wants to change Utah’s laws which allow a mother “to travel from any state to Utah and be in Utah for two or three days and then give birth to a child with the sole purpose of cutting off the right of the biological father.”

David Hardy, a Utah adoption attorney affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), asserts the laws are fine the way they are. “The Utah laws may be harsh but they are looking at what’s best for the child: stable families and two parent families, ” he told The Washington Post. Hardy’s claim supports an agenda to abet and encourage Mormon practices in the state. Is he attempting to make Utah a theocracy? There is supposed to be separation of church and state in the United States of America.

Hardy's views are reflected in an official LDS document, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which rejects the notion popular with many today that a family can be anything as long as there is love. “Children are entitled to birth within the bounds of matrimony and to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity," the document states.  If this "ideal" family does not occur naturally, it should be created through adoption, according to "Why Adoption," a 2008 article in the LDS Ensign magazine. Rebecca Taylor, who wrote the piece, also argues that adoption provides spiritual benefits as well:
"Children who are adopted by temple-worthy Latter-day Saint couples can be sealed to their adoptive parents. The sealing ordinance in the Church, and its blessings are present in this life as well as in the next. As President Joseph Fielding (1876-1972) declared, children who are born in the covenant—and by extension, those who are sealed to their parents in the temple--'have claims upon the blessings of the gospel beyond what those not so born are entitled to receive. They may receive a greater guidance, a greater protection, a greater inspiration from the Spirit of the Lord; and then there is no power that can take them away from their parents.'”
The Ensign article goes far beyond theology in making the case for adoption, however. “Numerous studies have shown that children are better off when raised by both a mother and father," Taylor writes. "These children are less likely to drop out of school, have behavioral problems, participate in delinquent behavior, become single mothers themselves, and live in poverty.”

These are arguments for the unmarried not having children, not arguments for adoption. It is unlikely that any responsible social scientist would advocate that all children born to unmarried parents are better off adopted than raised by single fathers. As a practical matter, it’s impossible. About 1.2 million children are born each year to unmarried parents in the U.S.--and only 15,000 of these are adopted. There’s no way that 1.1 million plus couples would step up and take the children who are not now placed for adoption. But that's only part of the problem. Adoption is no guarantee that children will be raised in stable families. Adoptive families divorce, adoptive parents became alcoholics and child abusers like the rest of the population.
Comparing the statistical fate of children raised by single parents with the statistical fate of children raised by married biological parents is a false comparison because it omits the impact of adoption on children. Plenty of literature and personal accounts clearly demonstrate that being surrendered to the state for the purpose of adoption has a searing and critical effect upon the adopted individual. For many years, adoption advocates claimed that adoptive families were just like biological families. Interestingly, though, they also tried to match the anticipated physical characteristics of the child and adoptive parents to assure the child would fit in. Today, adoption professionals acknowledge the differences.

Children raised in adoptive families, while they may have financial advantages over children raised by single parents, endure the "otherness" of being in a family where no one looks like them, or shares their interests and talents. They may also have deep-seated feelings of abandonment and distrust, emotions that are on display at numerous blogs written by adoptees--and first mothers such as ourselves. 

The following comment is typical of many FMF has received from individuals adopted as infants. 
“Adoption does not only damage mothers, it damages the children, the babies, as well and the trauma is lifelong. …I did not grow up in a wonderful home, either, and have scars from that. I fail to see the ‘benefit’ I received from adoption. …What happened to me and my mother and father in the 60’s was a nightmare and that it continues to happen is a tragedy.”
The Ensign article also claims that “studies have shown that single mothers have higher rate of illness and have less social involvement” citing a study reported in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, “Distress, Social Support, and Depression in Single Mothers” (August 2003) which found single mothers were more likely to be more stressed and depressed than married mothers. No surprise there, as many single mothers may not have the financial resources that would give them the backup and aid not to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. But that does not mean that adoption is the magical solution, devoid of problems for the relinquishing mother and relinquished child. Adoption is the beginning of a new set of lifelong problems.

The authors of the psychological study, however, don’t recommend taking children from single mothers to “de-mother single women” as the LDS Church promotes. And, as we first mothers know too well, stress and depression do not disappear when we give up our children.

Hardy and the LDS Church are either unaware of these facts (which seems unlikely) or ignore them in order to advance their theological agenda in the secular arena. The result is a state where it is extremely difficult for an unmarried father to gain custody of his child and to prevent the adoption of that child, even if the mother is not a legal resident of that state, and lies to the father about her intentions. All that she need to is send a vague text to the father about visiting the state of Utah for an agency to pounce and make it nearly impossible for him to retain his rights as a father. The child may even be born in another state, but if he is taken to Utah while the father is being deceived, adoption agencies--as well as state law--will conspire to strip a father of any rights to his child. It is a appalling, deceitful practice, but one that fulfills the Mormon agenda of ensuring that single parents do not raise their children. If it does not fulfill the legal requirement of fraud, it comes exceedingly close.

While some social workers at LDS agencies contend that they do not urge women to trick birth fathers, the laws in Utah are written to make that possible. We know--from several court cases--that this chicanery happens. While we do not claim that the LDS Church advocates such overt dishonesty, we note that it has not taken steps to reform the law in the Utah legislature, and that unscrupulous adoption agencies, such as A (sic) Act of Love, continue to profit from it. 

The LDS family model described in the 1995 Proclamation ("Fathers ... are responsible to provide the necessities of life .... Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children") accounts for only seven percent of American households. This family, celebrated by LDS today, was not the norm during the church's first fifty years, but is actually a recent invention, developed when the United States ceased to be primarily an agrarian society. Today the model of a typical family is in flux, despite the pushback from the Evangelical movement and Mormonism. The percentage of unmarried parents continues to rise, and nearly four out of every 10 births in the U.S. are now to unmarried women. Gay and lesbian couples are having children and adopting in record numbers. Deliberate biological parenthood and adoption by singles is also common. The most popular sit-com on television, Modern Family, displays the variety in American families: a stereotypical 50’s family, a man with a much younger Colombian wife with a child from a previous liaison, and a gay male couple with one child who are in the process of adopting a second.

The LDS Church has the right to urge its members eschew single parenthood in favor of constructing families artificially through adoption in order for children to “receive the blessings of the gospel.” But when these religious beliefs and policies are turned into the laws of the state, as they have been in Utah, something has gone awry. The Utah legislature should not be in the business of aiding and abetting these religious beliefs with laws that deny fathers the right to raise and cherish their own children. Mormons who are appalled at the current situation in Utah should contact church officials and demand that they take steps to reform the law. Additionally, they should ask the LDS hierarchy to insist that church families who have adopted children through such trickery return the children to their fathers whenever possible.

Recent newspaper accounts of hood-winked fathers fighting for their rights, several court cases that showed the state in an unfavorable light, and brave men like attorney Wes Hutchins are a good sign that Utah's anti-father policies are on the way out. We can only hope so.--Jane and Lorraine



  1. More fuel to the fire...


  2. Yeah when I was that yesterday I felt the same thing. I seriously hope they don't make this into a series. Just what we need, mass media making it all out to be such a "wonderful gift", because I am sure they won't put much focus on the suffering involved.

    I still haven't decided if I am going to watch it or not.

  3. “The Utah laws may be harsh but they are looking at what’s best for the child: stable families and two parent families"

    Here's a true story that I read recently.

    A 55 year old woman with a 2 year old adopted daughter was going through a divorce. It turns out she had only wanted to adopt because she felt that her marriage was in trouble and that her husband was pulling away from her. That he was! It turns out he had fallen in love with a co-worker, was having an affair and was simply too spineless to come clean with his wife. Fast forward two years and the whole thing blows up in everyone's face. The middle-aged husband couldn't take his double life anymore, told the truth about the affair and told the wife he was leaving her. He also admitted that he had never wanted to adopt a child but just went along to appease his wife.

    What disturbs me so much about this story (aside from the obvious) is that I bet 90% of people reading this will not get the significance of this being an ADOPTED child. This middle-aged, financially secure couple was supposed to give her a 'better' life. I'm sure that the PA-mom never mentioned that she was only adopting because she knew her marriage was crumbling. And certainly the PA-dad never mentioned that he didn't want the child in the first place.This poor little girl got placed in a situation that was a total sham. And this kind of scenario is probably not that uncommon.

    Also, in order in to improve their chances to become APs the a-mother quit her job to become a full-time mother. So now this little girl has a single, non-biologically related mother, an adoptive father who has no interest in her and lives in a financially precarious position since the a-mom is scrambling to find work. So much for that stable, two-parent family.

    "“Children are entitled to birth within the bounds of matrimony and to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity,"

    Good luck with that.

  4. This same thing happened in my family. My uncle/aunt were childless. They proceeded to adopt and my uncle said he would give aunt divorce and also sign papers to
    get adoptee for aunt. So uncle allowed divorce in lieu of signing adoption papers.
    I believe my son was also one of those lucky babies.
    Adopter was married and not long after adoption took place he was being raised by a "single" adopter. Didn't make sense at all adopters could say anything and as long as that ring was there with marriage license they were taken at their words. All the while lying knowing full well they were divorcing.

  5. Did anyone watch Birthmothers on TLC May 17th. It took place in Orem Utah. They had stereotype bmoms who were awful. Disgusting program shows Utah at it's best
    getting those awful bmoms to sign. After all adopters are waiting.

  6. This article makes me feel ill. I am a birthmom to a daughter placed by LDSFS 17 years ago. At the time I was 17, highly pressured to place my child, by the church and my family. I never felt like placing my child was the right thing for her or me. But I was told by many church members that i would be selfish to keep her, that she deserved a better life, and that in no way was i prepared to be a mother. They told me to stop having contact with the birthfather, to not answer question or to talk about with adoption with him, he was 18 at the time. He never got to see his child before she was placed, his parents never were able to see their grandchild. I had not had contact with the birthfather since she was born, and now have recently spoke to him and he has suffered years of depression and sadness, drug abuse, he has recovered from, which he says stems from feeling he had no rights as a birthfather. And Roni, yes the mormon church is trying to sugar coat adoption. They never told me the extreme loss and pain i would feel each day for the rest of my life. It was all about the selfless gift i was given a couple, how my daughter could have the blessings of a wonderful life with two parents.I belong to a few groups lds adoption pages on facebook, and lately have seen a few new pro adoption videos on facebook put on by church members, it states ZERO facts about the effect on birthparents or the adoptees. I can go on and on..sorry for the long post!

  7. http://www.rrstar.com/news/x1102968072/-Like-a-death-in-the-family-Local-woman-loses-daughter-to-adoptive-couple
    It's not just Utah.



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