|Part 3The conclusion you are about to read is true. Names have been changed, location omitted. For Part One click here. For Part Two click here.
My ex-husband and I share joint custody of our two year- old daughter, Susie. We live six hours away from each other. He does not know about the counsel my bishop gave me. My ex-husband and his girlfriend broke up shortly after Christmas the year of our divorce. He then met a girl online while she was attending school in Idaho. They were married in the Relief Society room of their local chapel seven months ago, after his attempt for a temple clearance was denied. From my understanding, his Bishop informed him it will be a long time before a clearance is granted.
Since her first birthday in October, 2012 Susie has been diagnosed with autism. I cannot imagine how Susie would have grown if she was in another home. Even if I stayed married to my ex-husband, Susie would not have received the attention she needed and is now getting with the help of my parents and siblings.
I am currently attending a local university, and hope to be completed with my bachelors in the next two to three years. This past fall I entered an entrepreneurship competition supported by said university and won seed money to start a business. That business, a retail bra store, is set to open this summer. I live with my parents, who are the biggest portion of my support system. My mom watches my daughter while I’m at school, and through Mom’s connections I have a babysitter that comes four times a week to help. I currently have a wider and more stable support network than when I was married. I still attend therapy.
I decided not to go ahead with a temple sealing cancellation, as I have learned from my own research and prayer that my family’s blessings do not hinge upon my ex-husband’s involvement. I consider myself sealed with my daughter, my parents, and Heavenly Father. I believe these blessings would have stayed intact whether I cancelled the sealing or not. Instead, I decided to save myself the time and energy of a process that would result in no net change other than an annotation on my records. I give my limited time to more valuable pursuits.
Since my meeting with the Stake President, I have not heard from or seen him. I do not dedicate any time in developing an opinion of him.
I consider Bishop Smith a good and honest man. He has helped me tremendously, a favor I will never be able to return. Bishop Smith stops by every once in awhile during his regular Thursday night runs around the neighborhood to visit families.
The last time I attended a church meeting was to drop off a plate of cookies to my Bishop the following Sunday after I met the Stake President. I do not receive church assistance.
At this time I have no interest in returning to church. Not because I was “insulted” by my experience with the church hierarchy, but from the trauma I went through during my marriage. My unhealthy marriage coupled with a normal desire for spiritual growth, is the reason I am not attending. When I met with my bishop, I was already disillusioned and had no interest in resuming church activity. It is because of this disillusionment I was able to take his counsel and advice with a grain of salt. If I still believed in the church to same level I did as a teenager, I know I would not have my child with me today.
I consider myself ‘Mormon’. I do not believe I will ever be able to fully separate myself from the faith. I am listed on the church rolls as I feel that is a decision that requires more time and thought than I have put into it. I probably won’t do it, if ever, for a very long time as the church requires one signature from a parent to add a child to its rolls. Thus, it stands to reason it takes one to keep them there. I much rather my daughter be listed under my name, where she is physically living, than have her listed under my ex-husband where she is not.
I do not drink, I do not smoke, I do not frequently swear. I stopped wearing my garments when my daughter was born, as the struggle of breastfeeding was greater than the blessing of the reminder. I have not visited a temple, and do not want to.
I am still a member of the fMh Facebook group, which has since gained another 2,000 members. It still aligns itself as a place for faithful members and those who can respect the faith. My gratitude of the group will never diminish. Without them I would not have had the courage required to do all I could to address a wrong that was done to me.
I do not feel the church is currently prepared to counsel women. I do believe as a whole, we have lost the importance of children remaining with their parents. Taking the list of best case scenarios from my local social services agency, listed from best to worst (biological family being used to represent whoever has guardianship of the child):
1) Child remains with biological family.
2) Child enters foster care on a part-time basis with majority care being provided by biological family.
3) Child enters foster care on a part-time basis with majority care being provided by foster family.
4) Child enters foster care full-time on a temporary basis until child can be returned to biological family.
5) Child is adopted into another family, after all attempts of placing with biological family have failed.
6) Child enters foster care full-time on a permanent basis until the child turns 18.
It is only the second to last option that a child is placed for adoption. Adoption should not be the first immediate response to any situation, nor should it be held as the morally right thing to do.
In conclusion, below is a list of people, names withheld unless otherwise stated, who had similar experiences with adoption being inappropriately pushed.
- A 26 year-old pregnant female with a full-time job, benefits, and steady boyfriend became pregnant. After being pressured to give her child up for adoption, she stopped attending church. She and her boyfriend married and they had a couple more children together. Over time they wanted to raise their children within a faith community and returned to church after her husband suggested it. The couple has now been sealed in the temple with their children.
- Woman’s daughter was pregnant as a teenager. She was not LDS, the teen father was. The bishop of the teen father strongly encouraged them to give their baby up for adoption. The young couple was disgusted. She now has a poor impression of the church and he has not attended since. They are now married with two children.
- A woman gave birth to a baby girl at age 20. During the pregnancy she broke up with her boyfriend, who was 24. She was offered an apartment and college tuition by her brother and childcare by his wife. She was pressured to “do the right thing” with the assurances from church counselors, her bishop, and a video from the first presidency that assured God wanted her to place her baby. She is now 36, married with other children, and has a hole that will never heal from the trauma she went through with her first child being placed for adoption. She is angry that the spiritual coercion was a means to an end, getting a baby for someone else.
- Melynda: 20-year old single mother; employed and attending school. Her LDS bishop counseled her on many occasions it was “never too late to do the right thing,” and that, “if she truly loved her daughter, she would not selfishly deprive her of the sealing ordinance” but give her to a couple to whom she could be sealed. When her daughter was just a few days shy of 9-months old, Melynda reluctantly agreed to relinquish her beloved baby daughter to be adopted by an LDS couple her bishop knew. After a brief temple marriage that left her with a 5-month old son and a divorce decree just a few years later, she went on to earn a BS and MS as a single mother. She has since remarried and is sealed to her spouse, has two more children, and has earned a PhD. She writes about adoption on her blog and participated in a podcast about LDS Adoption by Feminist Mormon Housewives
- Katie: First pregnancy was out of wedlock and handled in shame. “For three months, I mindlessly repeated that I would give the baby up for adoption, just as the leaders said I should, until I finally revealed the other half of my plan, which was to find some way to kill myself, preferably before leaving the hospital childless. A family intervened, and that daughter is sitting in front of me, ready to go to kindergarten in a month.” (Clicking on this link will lead you to a site with nudity:Mormon Women Bare) Katie was told by a church social worker if she wanted to keep her baby, she should have kept her legs shut. The effects of choosing to keep her daughter despite what her leaders, representing God, had told her took its toll. For many years, she had flashbacks of “You were never meant to be her mother” and “You should have given her to someone else, now she’s stuck with you.” Katie’s next successful pregnancy was hard fought, with multiple miscarriages and a deeply rooted and long-lasting idea that her ability to bear more children was forfeited when she kept her daughter. She gave birth to twins, with the differences in experiences between her first and her twins strikingly contrast. Her twins were born under the convent, her pregnancy celebrated. She and her family are not active.
- A 34 year-old woman with boyfriend, 35. Both were active in the church, and had full-time employment and benefits. Her bishop pressured her to place her child for adoption, as did his bishop and family. Her family was horrified she was considering adoption. Once she received personal revelation to keep her child, her bishop cut off all support from the church. Her boyfriend broke up with her, at his bishop’s insistence, 39 days before their daughter was born. Woman is still active; her child’s father was excommunicated but has since been re-baptized and is now active. She and her daughter survive on government social programs as she lost her job shortly after learning of the pregnancy. She receives no church aid and relies and the generosity of friends and family. She stands by her revelation to keep her child.
- A 24 year-old unwed female was given two choices by her Bishop, give up the baby or marry the father. The father treated her badly but she was not going to give up her child. She married the father and was miserable for 17 years. They are now divorced, and not active in church. She wishes she would have kept her child and stayed single until the right man came into her life. She is angry she listened to people who did not have to live with the consequences of their advice instead of following what felt right to her.
- Chavon: I was 20 years old when I found out I was pregnant. The father was 27 years old. Once I told my bishop I was pregnant I was placed on probation level 1 with the church. I was showed a video about placement and how it is what needs to be done if I was not going to be married. I am no longer active however it does not revolve around church reasons why I don’t attend. I am in a much happier place living my life the way I want to with out the guilt of church influence. Chavon blogs about her experience here.