Thursday, February 01, 2007

When to put a Child up for Adoption

I recently learned that a person I know put her baby up for adoption. As I don't know all the details of this story, I won't go into to specifics; but I am familiar with a couple of other people who, aftering getting pregnant while rather young (usually in their teens) gave up their children at the encouragment of the church.

I'm wondering about the reasoning behind this encouragement (both culturally and institutionally).

One couple I met, got pregnant while in highschool and gave their baby up for adoption. When this couple turned 18 they were married, and I met them in our ward when they were in their young 20's. Not a Sunday would go past without them talking about thier baby. Wondering what he was doing, if he had been treated well. I couldn't help but wonder if adoption was the right thing for them to do.

I know this is one case, and maybe even in this circumstance adoption was right, but what I would like to question is the rationale for encouraging adoption. What I usually hear is that adoption is right when it gives the child the best home possible. It seems that what is implied by "best home possible" is two loving parents, who are active members of the church and are financially stable.

Is there more than this that comes into play?

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have two sisters who got pregnant as teenagers. The first one did not give her baby up for adoption, but should have. The second did give her baby up, and in my opinion should not have.

Pres Hinckley strongly expressed his opinion a couple of years ago (sorry I am too lazy to dig up the reference) that all young girls who get pregnant out of wedlock should give up their babies through LDS family services.

His rational is that a baby should not have to pay for the mistakes of its unwed mother. Although this reasoning makes a certain amount of sense, I think in practice it doesn't always ring true.

Jeb said...

He probably does it because if they keep their children they will most often experience hardships and then those hardships can be used as rational for persuading people to get abortions. At least this way people are comfortable with the idea of putting children up for adoption. Alot of people get abortions because it doesn't occur to them to put the child up for adoption, putting the child up for adoption being the most rational thing to do.

cew-smoke said...

I know this sounds a bit empty and hollow, but if I were ever in the position that one of my kids was taken care of by another family. I would find some remote comfort in knowing that I would get to see them again someday. Even if not in this life.

However, I have no doubt that would in no way mask the grief underneath it all. I think the only thing I could offer is this. We have a tendency to judge our abilities and faculties based on where we are right now in life. Not where we were in the past.

Maybe the young couple who gave up their child would not have been able to bear up against the painful resonsibility of financially taking care of a child in their teens. Perhaps their parents would have gotten so caught up in the raising of the children that it would become a wedge between them and being the loving parents they needed to be. Perhaps their romantic love might not have survived the struggles they would have had to face and would never have gotten married.

So many questions, and really I don't have any answers.

diahman said...

His rational is that a baby should not have to pay for the mistakes of its unwed mother.

I think this is interesting because it raises the topic in light of "sin" and coping with the effects of sin.

Let's change the terms a little. If a young girl was married (let's say at 18) and then conceives only to have her husband die before giving birth, would she still be encouraged to give up the child? It would seem to me, that while this would be an option, there would be significantly less encouragement than for someone who got pregnant out of wedlock (at age 18, and then the boyfriend left).

Does it hold true therefore, that, as I mentioned earlier, in adoption we must consider what is "best" for the baby (as defined above)?

Is there a connection between "sin" and this type of encouragement that is not there otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Divorce rate for women who marry under 18: %50
Divorce rate for women who marry over 25: 25%

Statistically, the younger the mother at the time of marriage, the less her family income throughout her life. 18 year olds may have parents who are financially stable, but they are not financially stable, and getting pregnant and keeping the child only makes it worse. It's one thing to be single in college, go to the refrigerator and find only a jar of jelly for dinner--it's quite another thing when that jar of jelly is all you have to feed your toddler. At least, that's what I was told by a friend of mine in that situation--eight years later they are still have no degrees while most of their peers have finished college, are still on welfare and I'm glad to say, still married.

Young, unmarried and pregnant is not a good dilemma. Whatever choice is made, wonders and what-ifs will always be present. Personally, I think adoption should be the default. Some people may still want to keep the child and get married--that is fine. But it's good for people to know the risks and realities of what they are entering.

diahman said...

Most recent Anon.,

So you would say that giving the baby up for adpotion should be the norm and not the exception in the scenario I raise above (in my last post)?

Anonymous said...

The example of an 18 year old getting married, getting pregnant and the husband dying is an exceptional circumstance. I don't know what the norm should be in exceptional circumstances. For starters, the risk of divorce and raising the child in those circumstances is not a factor. Did the husband have life insurance or other death benefits? Can the wife easily return to her parents for support?

On top of that there are the additional emotional/psychological factors: death of the husband is already trauma enough; making the conscious decision to give away the child, especially a child that they were presumably happy to have (even if it was unplanned)... that's a lot to put on one person and I hesitate to make a general statement on what should be done in those circumstances.

I should add, I don't think the concept of sin or punishment or whatever should factor into what should be done in the cases of unmarried, unplanned pregnancy. Ultimately, it's a case by case decision and I think the realities of life make adoption a good place to start.

diahman said...

I should add, I don't think the concept of sin or punishment or whatever should factor into what should be done in the cases of unmarried, unplanned pregnancy. Ultimately, it's a case by case decision and I think the realities of life make adoption a good place to start.

I would certainly agree with this as well, but it seems that as a church/culture we are prone to connect the two. This is why I'm trying to clarify some of our thinking. I could see the argument be made for instance, that the unwed mother's pregnancy is also a sign of irresponsibility, so it is best to give the child to more "responsible" people. Not that I agree, but I was shocked by some of the people that I talked with, who also knew this individual (who I spoke of initially) and their eagerness with which they supported the decision, even though one of them was raised by a single mother.

Speaking from a personal basis (and I certainly do not mean for this to be the norm), I would rather be poor and take the chances of a "broken home" with my posterity than financially stable without them.

At the same time, I realize the larger strain this may put on the extended family--why should the parents of the girl/boy who became pregnant/impregnated someone, be responsible for raising another child. If I'm 55 and my 17 year old, father's a child, why should I have to sacrifice so much of my life to raise it?

On the other hand, one of the principles with which I've tried bring to my family is that we are all in this together. That which one does impacts the others. If one fathers a child/gets pregnant, like it or not, we're going to raise that child together.

Adoptee said...

On 1 February 1994 the First Presidency wrote a general letter on this very important subject. The letter reads, in part, as follows: “Priesthood and auxiliary leaders are again encouraged to renew their efforts to teach ward and stake members the importance of living chaste and virtuous lives. We note with alarm the continued decline of moral values in society and the resultant number of children being reared by unwed parents. … Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. When the unwed parents are unable or unwilling to marry, they should be encouraged to place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS Social Services. … Unwed parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of an obligation to care for one’s own. … When deciding to place the baby for adoption, the best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration.”

It looks to me that the first "option" to be encouraged is for the couple to marry".

As a person who was adopted as a newborn, I feel very blessed to be with the parents I was so obviously meant to be with. I think adoption should be prayerfully considered and I think that is what bishops would encourage.

HELP!!! said...

My child wants to go up for adoption but i don't want her to leave but i said that i hate her and that she is a bitch...

HELP!!!

HELP!!! said...

I was just kidding that was a story of what someone that did that to her daughter and i am like well why would you say that because that is so mean

Anonymous said...

Before I dive into this topic I wanted to point out...the correct term is not "put up" or "gave up" it is "place".

The Family Procamation states:
"Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

Take the proclamation and the letter from the 1st presidency and that should give you your answer as to why adoption should be not only considered but should be happening more often. Getting married is the 1st option to look at...but it states "Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. " So the Brethern are not speaking only of getting married if you get pg...it is saying a marriage that will lead to the temple where the child can be sealed to a Mother and a Father. The sealing covenant is what makes the difference. Some posted earlier asking what the difference is between a girl get pg out of wedlock and a girl who gets married is pg and husband dies...the difference is found in the sealing covenant.

I am a mother through adoption and a Birth Aunt. We have very open adoptions with all three of our children's Birth Families. I have witnessed incredible love and great sacrifice because of love. When the option of adoption is prayerfully considered it changes lives in incredible ways.

Anonymous said...

I only hear of unwed parents putting up their children for adoption. I am pregnant and married (in the temple) and yet I'm not sure it is in the best interest of this baby to be born into our family. My spouse resents both me and the baby. He is constantly critical and angry with me. I do nothing right for him. We have other children, and he wanted this one to be a girl. Well, it is another boy. Last night he was complaining about it being a boy, and I said, "Well, maybe we should just put it up for adoption then!" I was mostly being sarcastic, but his response was, "I'll sign the papers if you do." He will not love this child. In my view, the only advantage we have over the unwed is that he is financially supporting our family, but even that is getting strained. But what would it do to our marriage and to my other children's sense of security to put it up for adoption? Besides, the baby would not be able to be sealed to anyone else since it would already be born in the covenant. No, I will end up having this baby and feeling guilty that it does not have a loving father and there's not much I can do about it.

Anonymous said...

First of all let me say how sorry I am that you are going through this with your hubby. My advice would be to go to your Bishop first and he most likely will send you into LDS FS for counseling.

I don't know wether or not you should place your baby..that would be between you, your husband and God. But I have seen married couples place...I remember one couple both of them struggled with severe depression and they were not capable of caring for a child. They place with my friend and her hubby through LDS FS. One thing I have learned through that experience as well as 10 years serving in LDS adoption....a child can be sealed to their adoptive parents even if they were born in the covenant.
Best Wishes to you!

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