Some friends of mine just adopted a baby through LDS Family Services.
First off, some straight-up facts:
To adopt through LDS Family Services you must be a couple that has been married for two years, sealed in the temple, hold current temple recommends, get a Bishop’s endorsement and you must pass your state’s (or province’s) criminal background check. LDS Family Services are available to Mormons living in Canada or the United States.
Every adoption has a fee, among many other costs. The minimum is $4000 and then 10% of your income capped at $10,000. Other fees include: travel, living expenses while going through the adoption process, attorney fees, and court fees. There is also an optional pass-through account which is $3000. It pays for groceries, medical appointments and other necessities during the birth mother’s pregnancy. It is not mandatory but if you cannot pay it, there are many adoptions you will not be considered for. This is relatively new to LDS Family Services and they’ve added to be able to compete with other adoption agencies.
You have a case worker both in the place where you live and in the place where you adopt. You go through the latter county’s court system to adopt with the help of your case worker.
Funding for adoptions comes through fast offerings.
100% of adoptions through LDS Family Services are sealed to their parents.
The birth mother generally chooses the birth parents. She can look at hard copies of profiles and also online at itsaboutlove dot org. The birth mother usually narrows it down by age, income, interests, pets, a zillion things. Then the adoption agency shows her what they have. If they don’t have a match, they’ll ask neighboring agencies for couples that fit the birth mother’s wants. Sometimes a mother will go in to the hospital to give birth and tell them that the baby will be up for adoption. The hospital then contacts agencies to see if they have any families available. A case worker has to have a family committed before being allowed to take the baby. The fewer the case workers the more opportunities like this that have to be passed by and, in Detroit at least where my friends adopted, mothers are told they have to keep their babies because there isn’t a family to adopt.
Now here’s a little bit about their story and some things they’d like to see changed for future families and for the welfare of LDS Family Services.
They had been married a few years and decided to adopt and went through the process and were put into the system of LDS Family Services. Also the company that he was working for volunteered money to help with adoptions. Cool, right? They immediately decided they would take any child, regardless of the ethnicity, health problems or disability. Then they waited. For two years. Of course, he changed jobs. Finally they had a match. It was for a baby with down’s syndrome. They flew up to meet the birth mother and she went into false labor and they spent the day with her. It seemed like a great day and the birth mother reassured them that she would give them her baby. Five days later, she went jane doe in the hospital and she decided to keep the baby. He said, “it sucked” but I’m pretty sure it was devastating to them. This however got them on the adoption radar in Detroit.
Two months later a woman in Detroit, pregnant with her third child, came into the hospital and told them she would be giving this child up for adoption. The hospital case worker called LDS Family Services (they are one of five agencies the hospital uses) and that case worker had my friends picked out. The baby was a healthy African-American baby. They immediately flew to Detroit. I’ll call the baby Mahar-shalel-hash-baz (destruction is imminent) because that’s what the husband wanted to call him. They got Mahar when he was 5 days old and were allowed to keep him immediately, but then the court fun began. They stayed in a hotel in Detroit for three weeks and then an older LDS couple invited them to stay in their home for about a month more while the legal process of adopting Mahar was finishing up. For them, it meant lots and lots of waiting. I can’t imagine what this was like. Living in a hotel with a new-born? They are so grateful for the couple that let them stay, but even still another month with a new-born in not-your-own-home sounds painful to me. I did all sorts of searches on tourism in Detroit, trying to find things for them to do there and all we found was the world’s largest tire. After almost 2 months in Detroit it all worked out and Mahar was officially theirs. He was sealed to them in January.
After their first let down, the husband when filling out his tithing slip, put a large donation in one of the boxes, crossed out the original indicator, and wrote ‘adoption fund’. The financial clerk and the bishop called him, telling him there wasn’t an adoption fund and what would he like them to do with his money? Then he wrote a letter and all this ended with an area-authority-seventy calling him to discuss his “issues”. His main one is that if adoptions are funded through fast offerings, people ought to know. They should know that if they choose they can donate specifically to this fund. It gets very expensive to adopt a baby and if you can’t afford the pass-through account you’ll have to have wait and wait and wait because most birth mothers want this. The system as it stands self-selects older, attractive (the birth mother looks at the couple’s picture generally), wealthy, white couples and he believes there are a lot more able families than ones that fit these criteria.
This couple also wants an adoption fund so that more case workers can be employed by LDS Family Services. They loved their case workers, but knew that they needed more support than was available. Since a family has to be chosen in order to be available for an adoption, the more case workers the better. He says that with 100% sealing rate, it seems more valuable to invest in adoptions than missionary work. He is partial, but I see his point.
Another thing they wanted was more support from the Brethren, from the general Church. After a few searches on lds dot org I found a few magazine articles in the mid-80s encouraging adoption and a couple in the 90s and nothing til 2002. Since then there has been a mention or article in the Ensign every year or every other year. The couple (and I) would love to hear it mentioned at least every year in conference. I would like it put into lesson manuals. I know a lot of Mormon girls that kept their babies more because they and their parents thought it was better than adoption. This irks me for a number of reasons, one being that the fathers rarely get stuck with these situations and having and keeping a baby when you’re not ready will change the mother’s life forever. If the boy deserves an unblemished future, so does the girl and I’m positive that more attention in the Church would make more women and their families feel secure about making the choice to place their baby for adoption.
This is something that the Church has little control over but if the agencies had more open communication between them more babies could be placed. There are always parents waiting and babies waiting, it seems more families could be made with more communication. There is some job performance pay though and that is dependent on the number of babies adopted through your particular agency. It’s hard to openly communicate when some of your salary depends on you keeping things in your own system.
Tell me what you think about adoption. Do you have stories, experiences? What do you think of these suggestions? Would you pay into an adoption fund? Do you feel any doctrinal hesitation about adoption? Talk to me.