Why the Mormon Church is Wrong on This

As you all know, the church has really stepped in it this time. Or as my most devout, true blue Mormon friends would say, “God has spoken, and we must follow,” which is code for “This is ridiculous crap, but I am a mere peasant, dependent on the King’s good graces for my substance, so am crossing my fingers behind my back as I parrot the company line. I am sure you understand.”

Let me tell you how I, a straight, white woman with no special gift of spiritual connection with Heavenly Father beyond the average member, am confident that the church is wrong on its recent decision to declare members who are in same sex- marriages as apostate and to bar their children from being blessed or baptized. I know the church is wrong because I have lived it.

Not the same-sex marriage part. I mean the other part, the one about barring children from being baptized so they won’t have conflict with what they live at home, vs. what they are taught at church.

As a child, my brother and I were raised in state foster care until we were adopted when my brother was 9 and I was 7. Achieving the goal of having a forever family of our very own was celebrated not only by the state of Oregon, but also our new LDS family. It didn’t take long with our new family, for me to realize something was very, very wrong.

My brother and I had suffered sexual and physical abuse while in foster care, but our forever family was supposed to be different. They were supposed to love us, take care of us and be nice to us. That didn’t happen. I won’t go into the gory details here, but trust me, horrific things happened in the walls of our new Mormon home.

When I turned 8 years-old, I was told by my adoptive parents that I would be baptized into the church. I wasn’t particularly interested in joining the Mormon faith. While in foster care I had been exposed to a number of other churches and the Mormon church meeting was longer and way more boring that most of the others. There wasn’t much appeal to it in my mind, but I already figured out I had no power to say no. Whatever my adoptive parents said, was the rule. So I got baptized.

As the years went by and the abuse in our home continued, I struggled to make sense of it. During Sacrament Meetings we sat as a family and sang, “Families Can Be Together Forever,” then we would go home and our parents would beat the crap out of us for failing to wash the dishes properly. No one at church ever talked about What To Do if Your Family is Wrong.

When I got my patriarchal blessing as a teenager, it told me I should be grateful for my adoptive parents because they introduced me to the gospel. I was so confused by that. Why should I be grateful for anything my parents did? They beat us, starved us and treated us no better than the dogs they ignored in the backyard. Where was the blessing in that?

But over time, with determined effort, I came to see the truth of the patriarch’s statement. I WAS grateful for the gospel. I made friends in the church. I found Young Women leaders and other adults who I liked. I watched other parents who treated their children well. I decided that what I wanted for myself was to have what they had, the Mormon ideal. I wanted a family full of love. I realized the only way I was going to have that is if I ignored the crazy evil happening at my home and focused on following the gospel. I decided to pin my hopes for a better future on the church. If I lived a good life in the gospel, I would be blessed with the happy life I so desperately wanted.

And that came true for me. I grew up, surrounded by my good church friends. I excelled in church programs and was by all measureable means, an excellent, faithful member of the church. When my husband and I married in the Mesa, AZ temple, I knew I finally achieved my deepest desire. I was thankful to every influential church teacher, role model, and friend that I had, for keeping me worthy to participate in the House of the Lord, married for eternity.

I give full credit for me surviving my ugly childhood, to the church. I succeeded in spite of my parents, not because of them.

And that is exactly why I know the church leaders really screwed up on their decision to not allow the children of same-sex parents to be members of the church. If the church leaders really, truly believe that same-sex marriage is a higher evil than rape and murder, why aren’t they working double time to offer their children respite from the storm under the protective wings of the church? Why are they kicking out the children and calling it an act of love?

In one generation, from my childhood to the present, the church has done a complete turn about on its values regarding raising children. I am so sad that the structure and safety of the gospel that literally saved my life, is no longer available to the next generation of children desperate for help.

May God provide these rejected children and their parents, a new loving spiritual home as they feel the acute loss of their Mormon home. Only the angels in heaven are caring for them now, for the Mormons do not want them.

The Spencers

My adoptive family – Me and my brother are standing in at the far right. Weren’t we cute?

Heather Young is the author of “Ezra and Hadassah: A Portrait of American Royalty” a memoir that recounts their traumatic childhoods in foster care, then the Mormon faith, and how they found peace and love.

Women Speak Up

In last weeks General conference, president Nelson gave a talk where he exhorted women to “speak up and speak out.”


Uh huh. Sure.

Here is my reply, from the SAME EXACT CONFERENCE:

I Can Smell a Mormon From a Mile Away

I knew I knew it. The first time I saw the first commercial, it seemed so obvious to me. This is a Mormon campaign, if there ever was one.

So you can imagine how annoyed I was when I googled The Foundation for a Better Life and discovered I was wrong. It wasn’t a Mormon PR campaign. I hate being wrong.

I let it go. Because back in 2000, when the Foundation for a Better Life began, I was too busy celebrating surviving Y2K to spend much time on a non-profit ad campaign run by an uber rich Presbyterian who had 700 million dollars to burn. I could probably think of 700 million different ways I would spend that money, but such is the privilege of the 34th richest man in America. If he wants to create tv commercials and billboard ads reminding people of good, old-fashioned values, at least he isn’t asking for tithing donations to do it.

Fast forward 15 years. Once again, I spot a Foundation for a Better Life ad and once again, I am irked. I SWEAR to you, this is so incredibly Mormon-ish, I can’t shake it.


So I did another internet search, this time with much better results. The internet has seriously gotten better since 2000.
I finally found what my deep in bones, I knew was true.


The president of The Foundation for a Better Life is a bonafide Mormon, BYU alumni, ex vice president of Bonneville Communications (LDS church PR company) and the head of many successful ad campaigns.

The joint is owned and solely funded by an insanely rich, uber conservative evangelical Presbyterian, but he hired a Mormon to run the place.

I knew I was right.

Does knowing that a fellow Mormon is in charge of it make you like the Foundation for a Better Life ads more, less or no difference?

I just revel in knowing I knew I was right.

Brother Hafen is Wrong

I read the August 2015 Ensign article “The Proclamation on the Family: Transcending the Cultural Confusion” by Elder Bruce C. Hafen with a growing sense of incredulity, then anger and finally, tremendous sadness. I seriously hope no member of the church quotes Brother Hafen’s words in talks or lessons. Heaven forbid if his twisted perspective becomes another club to beat suffering saints with.

Bro. Hafen is a lawyer by trade and his article is written as a summary of the history of US law, as an explanation of how we ended up in this horrible time of “the whole earth (will) be smitten with a curse.” He alludes that we ARE in a time of cursing, due to the changing standards of family law.

Hafen says it all started “Beginning in the 1960’s, the civil rights movement spawned new legal theories about equality, individual rights, and liberation. These ideas helped the United States begin to overcome its embarrassing history of racial discrimination. They also helped the country reduce discrimination against women. These protections from discrimination are part of each citizen’s individual interests.”

So far, so good. We shouldn’t be racist or discriminatory towards each other. (Here is where I purposely choose to ignore church history that was actively racist and discriminatory towards blacks until 1978, LONG after the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.)

Then Hafen turns the positive changes in US laws during the 1960’s, to a negative. Read more »

The Latest Bit of News You Should Know

Book Front Cover

The Association for Mormon Letters reviewed my book!


You haven’t read it yet?
What are you waiting for?
Oh yeah, you only read about vampires, aliens, and romance set in the old west.
I can’t help you with that.

Meanwhile, for the rest of you, here is the link you need to get my book:


And here is what the Mormon Letters folks thought about it: Read more »

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Single Mothers in the Church Will Never Get a Break

As many of you know, I have a daughter who is a temple-divorced single mom. She left her no good, abusive, Read more »

Woman News Part 2

This came across my Facebook Newsfeed page and I thought it made important points about how girls are raised in church to think about their place in the home. In my mind, it perfectly explains why my previous post about the church’s recent good news about allowing one woman to attend some executive meetings is important.

“I know everybody is laughing about this Josh Duggar story. Oh, a DUGGAR on Ashley Madison, it’s so rich! I wish more people would talk about Anna. I normally keep things light on Facebook, but let’s talk about Anna. Let me tell you: Anna Duggar is in the worst position she could possibly be in right now. Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser because his family was famous in their religious circle. Anna Duggar was taught that her sole purpose in life, the most meaningful thing she could do, was to be chaste and proper, a devout wife, and a mother. Anna Duggar did that! Anna Duggar followed the rules that were imposed on her from the get-go and this is what she got in reward- a husband who she found out, in the span of 6 months, not only molested his own sisters, but was unfaithful to her in the most humiliating way possible. While she was fulfilling her “duty” of providing him with four children and raising them. She lived up to the standard that men set for her of being chaste and Godly and in return, the man who demanded this of her sought women who were the opposite. “Be this,” they told her. She was. It wasn’t enough. Read more »

Woman News

Are you on Facebook? If you are a female, I sure hope so. That is where girls go to get the latest news, especially if you are a Mormon.
(I still hesitate when writing Mormon – it wasn’t that long ago that the word from SLC was that we shouldn’t call ourselves Mormon, we are Latter-Day Saints. I worked really hard to get Mormon out of my vocabulary so I was politically correct. I am glad that bit of nonsense was rescinded, but I mentally pause every time I write it.)
If you are a dude and don’t know the news, it was eventually posted on LDS.org as a blog post, not a press release so it won’t be released to the general media. No reason to waste real ink on this bit of news. Read more »

Rabbi For All

In my town, the local Rabbi is retiring after 41 years of leading the Jewish community.
The most interesting thing about Rabbi Jeff Portman’s retirement, is that he has been the Rabbi for two groups that are forced to cooperate with each other. In his one congregation, there are Conservative and Reform members. That is really rare and is only because of the reality that neither group in our town is big enough to sustain itself. Read more »

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What’s Next????

I go away for one lousy week to participate at Sunstone Symposium at the Univ. of Utah (translation: Doing the work of the LORD, people) and all of a sudden the church is super casually dropping lighting bolts about how it has The Actual Seer Stone that Joseph Smith Used to Translate the Book of Mormon.


The Rock


How long has that been gathering dust in the LDS hall closet and why hasn’t it been proudly displayed in any number of places in Salt Lake City from the very beginning?

What ELSE is in the church closet that hasn’t come out yet? Do we have the actual garment that the Angel Moroni wore when he declared that Joseph shouldn’t join any other church? How about an angelic trumpet? I want to see the Sword of Laban with my own eyes, Da^%it!
I think you owe us that.

I feel like this is like the last scene of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. You remember, that is the long-range shot of the huge government warehouse where all the mystical things on earth were stored, kept away from the prying eyes of the people.


And ya’ll make fun of me for reading my daily astrological horoscope. Whateves.
And yeah, I’m a Leo. What of it?

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Boy Scouts – It’s About Time

So, the Boy Scouts finally did it and the church newsroom wasted no time reacting. Read more »

The Summer of Heaven and Hell

The summer of 2001 was the worst. Rob and I were pushed to the max with our demanding jobs, church callings and taking care of our 3 children. We lived far from family and had no support system other than church. Read more »

What Exactly Are We Defending The Family From?

I admit I am pretty worn out. It has been a hectic few days since the Supreme Court decided that marriage should be available to all couples who choose it, regardless of their gender. I have spent more time on the computer, reading and reacting to what I’ve read, then ever before. (Sorry to my loved ones who haven’t had a hot meal for a couple of days. It takes a lot of time to defend the family.)

So, after spending way too much time immersed in rallying cries that allowing LGBT people to marry signals the destruction of the family, the destruction of the world, and is definitely a sure sign of the Second Coming of Christ (make sure to buy more guns and ammo NOW!), and the numerous ways the world is going to hell in a hand-basket in the meantime, I am left exhausted and spent with a single thought remaining. Read more »

Me, Rex and the Supreme Court

Young Family and Rex
Clockwise: Rex at top, Rob, Elise, Ty, Jennifer and me in the center, right where I belong.

Back when I was getting reacquainted with my brother after an eleven-year separation, I realized I had some thinking to do. Read more »

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Holy Shikes, What Happened to Father’s Day?

On Father’s Day I posted a short, sweet anecdote about a girl in my ward who acknowledged her thankfulness for the stepfather in her life.

I liked her testimony because it was spontaneous (the bishop hates it if we get out of Sacrament meeting early. It is not usual in our ward for spare time to be filled with two or three people who are asked spur-of the-moment, from the pulpit, to share their testimonies. I can think of worse ways to fill time.) and fresh and honest. Read more »

Best Father’s Day Ever

In Sacrament meeting this morning, a teenage girl was asked to give an impromptu testimony. She got up, walked to the pulpit and began by talking about her love for her mother. She told us that her mom was a single parent to her and her brother for most of her life. The girl said her mom did a great job juggling being both mother and father in their home. Then she said she was thankful for C_______, the man who has been with her mom for a couple of years. She thanked him for being a good stepdad and acknowledged that he treats her mom well and makes their whole family happy.

It was the most simple, sincere, and honest talk about fatherhood that I’ve heard in a good long while.

Thank you to all the men in the world who treat their wives well and make their whole family happy. What a tribute to fatherhood!

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Good News Update

Due to the plague hitting my house, I have been delayed in relaying this news to you. We are now feeling better, thanks for asking.

Good News #1 –

We’re Number #2!
We’re Not Number #3!
Thanks to your votes, I managed to wrangle a second place finish in the 2015 Momon Lit Blitz. I am more than satisfied with the results. I look better in silver than gold, anyway.
Here is the link if you are interested in the ranking of the other winners.


Good News #2 –

Kirkus Book Review

Kirkus is a professional company that does book reviews and catalogs for booksellers and libraries to help them decide which books to buy. The thing about Kirkus is they have a reputation of being hard core. Some authors and publishers refuse to have their books reviewed by Kirkus because there is a higher chance for a negative review. So you can only imagine the happy dance I did when I read their review of my book. You remember my book, right?
Book Front Cover

Anyway, here is Kirkus’s super nice review of Ezra and Hadassah: A Portrait of o fAmerican Royalty. If you haven’t read my book, you really need to get to it. All the cool kids are reading it and I would hate for you to be left out of the party.


A heart-wrenching memoir recounts two siblings’ upbringing by their abusive adoptive parents and Oregon’s foster-care system.

The children of a paranoid schizophrenic mother and a developmentally challenged father, Hadassah and Ezra split their early years between foster homes and their parents’ unstable household. When their already tenuous living situation was swept up in 1970s-era adoption reform, they were taken from their biological parents and adopted by the Spencer family, who changed their names from Hadassah and Ezra to Heather and Rex. The Spencers were cruel taskmasters, using adoption to gather young laborers for their home, incapable and uninterested in helping with Rex’s developmental disabilities or Heather’s emotional withdrawal after being molested in foster care. This was compounded by the severe beatings and draconian punishments inflicted on the Spencer children, so pitiless that Heather was barely able to protect herself, let alone help her older brother, whose inability to fly under the family’s radar left him locked away in his room, unfed, and living in filth. Heather escaped at 18, finding a measure of stability with an understanding and loving husband. With this support, she reunited with Rex, who rediscovered his faith and professed a personal, literal friendship with Jesus, turning him into an odd but enthusiastic figure of forgiveness in her life. Young’s debut avoids many of the typical pitfalls of an abuse narrative, approaching its often tragic subject matter in a forthright manner, never sensationalizing her own or others’ suffering. Though Mormonism figures prominently here, the Mormon church’s assistance and shortcomings are treated with honesty, and those outside the faith won’t find themselves feeling recruited or ostracized. The book’s heartbreaking power emanates from the author’s candid account of her struggles, from her fear of inheriting her mother’s mental illness or the abusive tendencies of her adoptive parents to dealing with the guilt that comes with sometimes prioritizing one’s own health and survival.

An unsentimental, affecting look at foster care, abuse, and mental illness.


Use Your Power For Good

Today is the day you change my world! It’s time for you to pick up your fingers and vote for the winner of the 2015 Mormon Lit Blitz! Click on the link below and follow the directions, they aren’t too hard. Don’t forget you have to vote for my essay, “The Best Wedding Advice Ever” and 3 other essays of your choosing.


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Mormon Lit Blitz

Ok, peeps. It’s time to expand your Mormon literature library to include a bit of fabulousness. I entered an old post I wrote for Mormon Mentality in a Mormon literature contest (totally legit, they allowed previously published stuff and besides, let’s be real, who besides my husband (who I require to read my MM posts) actually reads my posts on MM? Don’t worry, I’m not bitter. I enjoy having a whole website all to myself. I prefer not sharing my kitchen, bathroom or words.) Read more »

My Five Mothers

I believe we are given as many parents as we need to learn the life lessons that are necessary for us. I’m not sold on the idea that it is a predestined contract signed before we all showed up on Earth, but I do believe that there are special people to help us along our way. I also believe there are as many relationships as there are people in the world, so there is an overabundance of opportunities to get things right if that is your goal.

I needed five mother’s to get me through. Most people only need one and maybe a good second mother-in-waiting to get the job done, but I had five. I am perfectly happy with the women who I chose or they chose me, to teach me the ways of the world. I am lucky because for every difficult mother I had, I was able to find another who was able to erase the pain and give me a boost of needed courage and confidence.

Let me introduce you to the important women who mothered me and made me whole.

1. Claudia – My biological mother. Through no fault of her own, she was only able to mother me until I was 7 years old, and most of that time she had to share me with my second mom. I honor Claudia because she gave my brother and me all that she had. She has suffered unimaginable heartache in losing her children to an unfair system that she had no control over. I can’t imagine having her strength to carry on and live a full life without overpowering bitterness and anger against the world. I am so glad we found each other as adults.

Claudia with my brother Rex, circa 1966. Cuties, right? 

2. Dorothy – My foster mother from age 2 to 7. She was a helper mother to Claudia and made it possible for us to have a relationship with our biological parents. Since we weren’t her only foster children and she had 3 biological children of her own,  I was just another child in her home. I had freedom in her home because she didn’t have rules or much structure. As an adult, I can see that I pretty much ran wild.
I don’t have a picture of Dorothy because my computer crashed and I lost all the photos from a research trip to Oregon that Rob and I took in 2009. I did keep a handful of pictures that were still on a cell phone. The only one that survived from Dorothy’s house turned out to be very appropriate since Dorothy only vaguely remembered me and my brother. Even though we lived with her for 5 years, we didn’t register high on her list of memorable children. We were just a paycheck to her.

The basement door in Dorthy’s foster home. Each foster child signed their name.
 There are A LOT of names on that door. 

3. Virginia – My adoptive mother. She raised me from age 7 to 18. I left on my eighteen birthday and I never spent another night in her house. I don’t regret my decision to leave. Actually, I am confident my leaving saved my sanity and possibly my life. I learned more from Virginia than I care to remember, but I do appreciate that she taught me the proper ways to fold towels, clean the bathroom, and how to keep my deepest soul protected from people who would do harm to it. Virginia gave me many opportunities to practice that last one. That skill has served me well as an adult. Virginia did not break me.

Virginia with Rex and I shortly after we were adopted. We were sweet looking kids. 

4. Anna – My healing mother. I lived with Anna for almost two years after I left Virginia’s house. She and her husband provided me with food, a safe place to sleep and a sense of stability that I had never experienced previously in my life. Anna wasn’t a perfect mother, but she was perfect for me, and I love her for that. She was an excellent cook and my hair and fingernails grew like crazy at her house. Anna’s simple acts of feeding me, asking me about my day and listening when I talked, healed so much. I thank her for being willing to take on me and my beaten down spirit. She did a good job with me.

5. Barbara – My teaching mother. I was 19 when I married Rob. When I became a mother at 21, the reality of my ignorance of taking care of children was painfully obvious. Barbara (my best friend Stephanie’s stepmother) became my phone-a-mother lifeline. She helped with the daily questions that all new mothers had before the internet made parenting one ginormous Google search. More importantly, when my children were diagnosed with hearing losses, and then when we rushed to the hospital on a regular basis for health crisses’, her occupation as a nurse was a godsend because she was able to explain medical procedures and medication in ways that I understood. She was a safe mother for me to cry and wail to, and she agreed it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair my children were sick. It wasn’t fair that I had already had a crappy childhood and now I was having a crappy motherhood. When would it get fair? Barbara’s wisdom was able to calm my fried nerves and give me hope when no one else could. I love her for her lessons about how to survive when you are so worn out you just want to lay down and die. Barbara taught me how to live.

I thank all my mother’s for sharing with me what they had. The good, the bad, the hurtful and the sublime. I accept it all with gratitude.

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