Sunday, November 06, 2005

LDS Family Services' Unethical Practices

Complaints of unethical baby procurement practices in Utah aren't confined to obscure adoption brokers like A Cherished Child and Adoption Center of Choice.

Mary Murphy

Anchorage Daily News
Sunday, February 26, 1995

(Click to enlarge)

Mary was a single mom of a 15-month-old son. She was providing for herself and her baby, but the going was tough. Raised in foster care herself, she had no support base - or at least none she was aware of. A Native Alaskan, she didn't check to see what resources might be available through her state. Instead, she turned to her church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Fairbanks, to help her through a temporary financial crisis. She needed about $40 to pay a bill that was due. However, she believes she was refused because she had not been able to pay her tithe to the church. In addition, she got neither help nor encouragement from the people in her congregation. The only option she was offered was to surrender her son for adoption. Finally, defeated, she consented.

Although she and her son were residents of Alaska, she was not directed by her religious advisors to an Alaska adoption agency. Instead, she and Jonathan were flown, accompanied by a female LDS handler, to Utah, over a weekend, where they were taken to an upper floor of a building she couldn't identify. She was led to a room "full of cribs," states Mary, containing "at least eight other children." She was told the other children were just there for the weekend; their parents would be picking them up Monday.

Mary was directed to put Jonathan into one of the cribs and proceed to another room to sign papers. After the paper signing, she claims a church official gave her female LDS handler $100 and directed her to take Mary to the mall and "buy her something nice." So now, in addition to feeling cheated out of her son, she also was made to feel she had "sold" him. She was also stricken by this cruel fact: the church wouldn't give her $40 to help her pay a bill, but it would give her $100 as a gift after surrendering her son for adoption.

As Mary prepared to board the plane to return to Alaska, someone from the airline recognized her from her flight in the day before and asked her, "Where is your baby?" It was then that the horror of what had happened to her and her son nearly took her breath way. She has spent the rest of her life trying to recover.

  • Why did church officials in Alaska fly Mary and Jonathan to Utah, rather than facilitating an adoption in Alaska?
  • What Alaskan adoption laws, especially involving Native children - might have prevented LDS from wresting Jonathan away from Mary?
  • Why didn't LDS Social Services comply with the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) in arranging for Jonathan's placement across state lines?

The "proof" of Mary's manipulation and misinformation is the fact that she and her son were removed from her native state, Alaska, where they could have obtained help to keep their little family together, and flown to Utah. As a result, they were denied protection under the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC).

Was the ICPC in effect in 1977 when Mary lost her son?
Since its establishment in 1960, it has been enacted into law by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands(Emphasis added.) The Compact is made up of 10 articles that enumerate the responsibilities of "sending" and "receiving" states in the completion of home studies for child placements and, later, in the supervision of children in interjurisdictional placements. In addition, it includes regulations, reporting requirements and specific guidelines for the interstate child-placement process. The current Compact applies to any child placed for foster care or adoption across state lines, including international adoptions and domestic infant adoptions, as well as to delinquent children sent to institutions across state lines.
Clearly, LDS Social Services acted in non-compliance with ICPC mandates in Mary Murphy's case.

To Jonathan Michael Murphy (whatever your name is now), born on November 26, 1975 (though your date of birth may have been changed on your amended birth certificate), at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska (your place of birth may have been changed, too): your birthmom and half-brother James are most anxious to meet you! This is what you looked like as a baby:

More LDS Adoption Strong-Arm Accounts

Mother Pressured, "Scared" into Surrender; Twins Placed in Separate States (See Post #99. This is off-site, so use back button to return to this page.)

Father's rights violations (Off-site; use back button to return to this page.)

Notice on the 'Father's rights violations' page that, of the thirteen cases represented:
  • Four involve LDS.
  • Six involve Utah attorney Larry S. Jenkins.
  • Seven involve Utah agencies, either directly or through their satellite offices in other states.

Some that got away, but demonstrated LDSFS stong-arming practices

(Excerpt) Anyway, at that point I told the LDSSS guy no - not interested. My 'foster' family, fortunately supported my decision and helped to put me in contact with other adoption agencies that took a more reasonable approach. I didn't want to be any part of such a farce. But, the guy wouldn't leave me alone! Kept calling, showing up at my work. Even told me I would need to move out of the foster family's house, as I wasn't involved with the church program anymore. Of course the family told him where to go and I stayed with them up to and even a few weeks after the delivery.

Long story short - the LDSSS tactics are deplorable. My heart aches for the girls who have given up babies through this process. Did they have any real choice in the matter?
Would not be bullied (Off-site. Scroll down to entry by "So Blind" on Sept. 3)
I had had a child outside of marriage before joining the LDS church. Two months later my bishop called me into his office to tell me that I had to give my child up for adoption because by keeping him I was not truly repentant of my sin (fornication) and that no man would want to marry me because I had a child outside of marriage.

I informed him that I would not give my son up and that my mom had kept me even though her parents tried to tell her the same thing when she was pregnant with me and that I was going to keep my child. He bullied me to put my son into foster care but after a week I was so upset and my son was sick that I did get my son back. This son is now 31 and has 2 beautiful little girls."
She suffered significant damage at hands of the LDS social services in particular (Off-site. Scroll down to article 'More Parallels Between The FLDS And Mainstream Mormonism,' by Bob McCue.)
I read this article over breakfast this morning, and then talked about it for a few minutes with my 25 year old daughter. She is a single mom. Her son is a four year old who challenges her; anchors her; motivates her; sometimes makes her miserable; etc. - in short, a normal mother-child relationship. She made an anguished decision as to whether to keep him or not; had selected his adoptive parents and did not decide to keep him until the day she went into labor. In fact, it seemed that her body was waiting for that decision befor being prepared to deliver the baby. He was about two weeks overdue.

She suffered significant damage at hands of the LDS social services in particular and well meaning Mormons in general during the process of deciding whether to give the baby up for adoption. This played a significant role in my post-Mormon awakening.
Lied to; Signed While Drugged; Serious Birth Father Issue (Off-site; scroll down to deblucas, posted 9/15/2005)
I was also lied to by LDSSS - I was told the minute he turned 18, they would organize a reunion.

I was forced by my Bishop and my mother and by LDSSS to give up my baby. I found out afterward that they had security try to kick the birth father out of the hospital because he was there to exercise his parental rights. It was only after I threw a fit and he agreed not to do anything that they let him in to the room to say goodbye.

They also had me sign my paperwork while I was still under the affects of all the medicine they pumped into me while I was giving birth.
And the list goes on and on and on....
When I became pregnant with my son, I gave the church one last chance. When I refused to give him up for adoption, the bishop said I would be excommunicated or disfellowshipped. He made it clear it was for keeping my baby and not for fornication. I decided to save them the trouble and had my name taken off the records. I've never regretted my decision.
Grandmother's story – from a no-longer active web page once found at this address:
Here is another example: Our tenth child is adopted. He is our beautiful grandson by birth and we raised him from Day One. We were still LDS when this transpired. My oldest son's girlfriend (now his wife, praise God!) was pregnant. My son had been "inactive" LDS and his girlfriend had no religious background at all. She asked me how I felt about abortion and I told her frankly I thought it was murder. I told her I would adopt the baby or help her find an adoptive family if she did not feel comfortable with that.

The Bishop called us in to talk to us about the situation. He insisted that the Prophet said babies should be given up for adoption rather than be raised by single parents and that we should allow the baby to go to another LDS family. I strongly believed this did not apply to us and our situation. The baby would not be raised by a single, unwed mother. He or she would be raised by a loving family: US!

The Bishop told us "the spirit" was telling him we should give the baby up. He showed us a movie put out by the First Presidency (the Mormon prophet and his two counselors) that portrayed middle-aged parents having to raise their grandchild and being resentful. It was nothing but propaganda. I WANTED the baby! I WANTED to raise the child! Well, praise God we did not take the bishop's counsel, but went by what the "the Spirit" was telling US……
I am no longer active, it doesn't sound like the church has changed much either. In 1991 I became an unwed mother at the age of 18. I was told by the stake pres. that the only way I would be guaranteed a 99.9% chance of going thru the lds temple would be to give the baby up for adoption thru ldsss. 13 years later I still have my first born, I didn't go thru the temple, but I am alive (thanks to my son) and I came to understand what a hard decision it must have been for my bmom. I know if I would have given my child up for adoption it would have been the end for me.
A Personal Story Of Abuse By The Mormon Owned LDS Social Services (excerpts - off-site)
As time wore on ... the pressure grew. At first it was subtle, but then it became almost outright at the end. The lady from LDS Services told me that she thought I should give my baby up, as I was too young and couldn't care for it properly - besides that, my baby needed a good two-parent home with temple worthy parents. Even the Bishop himself told me that I needed to give my baby up for adoption.

Soon everyone was pressuring me, telling me what to do, or at least telling me behind the thinly veiled guise of "advice" and assuring me it was still my "choice". I began to look for adoptive parents. I looked through books and books of parents that had been screened carefully by the church. Somehow it just didn't feel right - but I felt that I HAD to find the right set of parents.

It was God's will, I convinced myself. I looked and looked but could not make a decision. The pressure from everyone grew and grew until it choked my very being. Time was running short as the pregnancy grew further - and I soon began to feel desperate.
Finally I chose an adoptive couple. They were both young. The mother was pretty, the father was handsome, and they had 2 adopted children already. They had been on missions to Japan, spoke Japanese, were wealthy with great jobs, and had the PERFECT LIFE so it seemed. These were the people, I was sure of it!

I gave my permission to contact them and they were notified of my decision. One of the things that bothered me though, was that they had specified that they were only willing to take a child that was 1/4 Native or Asian, no more.

So had all the other parents ... they only wanted Caucasian children, or children that were specifically no more than 1/4 of such and such a race. Some even specified they didn't want any non-Caucasian children. Such racism boiled my blood and disturbed me (hence we see the racism in the church playing out again!!).

My soul cried out in agony. I prayed and cried to God and begged him to affirm to me that I had made the correct decision. I had no idea what to do, and I told God that I only wanted to do what was right. Whatever the decision ... it needed to be the right one, and the best one for my child.

Things began to move forward and it seemed that this couple would adopt my baby. As I imagined the thought of them at the hospital, taking my baby from my arms and taking him home ... I would cry for hours nonstop. It felt so wrong ... and yet it must be God's will, right?
I got down on my knees and I prayed to God for hours. I prayed like never before in my life. I said that I knew it was wrong to ask for signs, but that I NEEDED a sign to tell me that this adoption was the right course and the will of God. That it was "meant to be".

Only about 3 days later I got a call from LDS Family Services. I was told that the adoption could not go through. The couple had pulled out citing personal problems and a family emergency and needed to relocate to the United States right away. Due to many reasons, the adoption was not possible. I KNEW THIS WAS MY SIGN. Looking back on it all these years later, I realize that may have been a sign true ... but the real sign was the feelings in my heart and my soul that told me NO and fought against it every breath of the way.
They told me that it didn't matter whether Steve agreed with the adoption or not -- they had ways to coerce him to agree, or to guilt-trip him or force him to agree. And if that did not work they told me, then they could secretly sneak me into Alberta (as I live in British Columbia) where I could give birth to the baby and give it to an adoptive couple. There were loopholes, I was assured, that could make sure Steve could never see his baby, or at least never get custody.

There were many sympathetic judges and cities where the Mormons always won custody battles and there were "many ways" that were told to me of how I could sneak off and deceive whomever I wanted.
Other mothers' experiences with LDS
Altered or Illegally-obtained Documents?
I had no idea. Really, truely (sic) I had no clue. I had always suspected there were shady dealings with the whole adoption process through LDSSS, after reading these posts I feel validated . . . finally.

I too was forced into the adoption. Told the whole line, "This isn't really your child, this is the only way this child could come to it's true and forever family." What is unfortunate is my mother still spouts that belief whenever I am sad or missing my daughter. No wonder the Social Worker assigned to "assist" with my case not only moved from the area, but I later found out left the church shortly after my baby's adoption was finalized.

I asked questions, very thoughtful questions about reunions and obtaining non-id info prior to the adoption. I hit brick walls then, I suppose they don't ever want you to have what is rightfully yours. I never received the "exit counceling" post adoption. My father signed as the witness and I never was offered legal councel, ever. Nor was the BF.

It is a long and weary road. My heart breaks for all of you.

It took me several years to actually contact LDSSS where the adoption took place for the copies of my relinquishment papers. I did have to meet with the local LDSFS director to retreive (sic) them, but it was odd. I have the papers, I distinctly remember hand writing in the baby's legal name, as I had given not only to the hospital but to the LDSSS. This was not on ANY of the documents it all read "baby girl _______." As if LDSSS ALTERED the documents post signing!!! Isn't that ILLEGAL!?
LDSSS had my mom witness the adoption papers which in Oregon is illegal - they have to be witnessed by an independent third party. They also had me sign the papers less than 24 hours after delivery when I still had the medication in me - that also is against the law. I also called and wanted to stop things and they went ahead anyway. In essence, and this is what I tell everyone - LDSSS stole my baby.
Unethical Betrayal of Confidentiality (Off-site. See paigeturner, 04/05/2005)
Church leaders treated me very poorly during my pregnancy and even went so far as to call the young man they thought was the father into the Bishop's office and let him know about my pregnancy...behind my back. He wasn't the father, I had never implied that he was and he made my life a living he!! when I returned to my small town after I placed my child. Talk about a lack of privacy and confidentiality.


Boston Globe

Friday, August 26, 1994

...Peggie Hayes, 34, said Romney, then a lay counselor for the local church, came to her home in 1984 shortly after she gave birth to her son, Dane. At the time, Hayes was divorced and had a 4-year-old daughter.

"He told me it was really important to give the baby up," Hayes said. ''He told me he was a representative of the church and by refusing I was failing to comply with the church's wishes and I could be excommunicated."

Hayes said that, though she was shaken by the incident, she rejected Romney's advice and eventually dropped out of the church.


warriorwoman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
warriorwoman said...

This blog is EXCELLENT. The only issue I have is where words like "birth father" are used to describe the actual parent of a child. If people understood that it is an actual mother or father that is being removed from their child's life (not just some birth thing or biological matter) then they would be HORRIFIED to see the family members separated and the children sold off.

It would be relatively easy to fix the laws and protect everyone better - the parents, the kids, and even the prospective adopters.

Make it illegal to solicit any parent (or grandparent or other relative) to try to get their family member. Get rid of all the private adoption agencies (including church agencies) and attorneys that profit in any way from the redistribution or "sale" of children. There should be NO incentive or bonuses or quotas of children to be adopted. Whenever there are bonuses or quotas attached to any action of a child protection system, there is less likelihood that the interests of any individual child will be considered a priority.

Allow 6 weeks after birth before a surrender of parental rights can be legally obtained - allowing the mother to recover from birth and the parents and grandparents time to discuss things and work things out. Make it a requirement that parents be advised of the known effects that separation has on family members. Get BOTH parents' signatures - no bypassing the dads who want to take responsibility for their children. Then allow two weeks revocation period. If parents revoke their consent, give them their child back. If they do not revoke their consent, then choose the best situation for the child, NOT the most moneyed, infertile or deceptively friendly person. Prospective adopters should not be selected in advance, so that they are on pins and needles wondering if they will get "their" baby (and hoping a family will become separated).

It's a tragedy to see fathers return from serving their country in Iraq and find their son or daughter has been adopted. Puppies and kittens are better protected from being separated from their mothers until they are sufficiently mature.

Domestic Adoption Baby Boom - Exploiting Women and Families in America

"Birthmothers" Rights Group OriginsUSA

warriorwoman said...

Note: The word "birthmothers is used in the last post ONLY for search engine purposes. A mother is a mother, not some sort of equipment meant to be used as the source of a baby for adoption.

BGK said...

This blog is so helpful. This is horrifying, I thought Frank Osborne's case was unique but it is not. Thank you for your exposes, I will link to you as soon as I can finish reading and get back to my own blog :-)