Monday, November 24, 2008

More on fostering and adopting

Since my post on fostering raised a few questions about the LDS Church's stance on singles and adopting, I thought I'd write a post on the issue as I know it. This is not meant to be, in any way, shape, or form, the final word on the subject. It is what I personally have learned on the subject. If you have heard otherwise, and have documentation or links to back it up, I welcome them.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set forth "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" on Sept 23, 1995. In this document, that the LDS Church recognizes as modern-day scripture, what a family and marriage is, is defined. Herein you will also find the declaration, "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."

If there is anything to know about the LDS Church it is that we hold the family to be the most sacred and important of all things on Earth. Everything revolves around family. Family is the center of all things. We treasure children, and honor parents.

A child is entitled to a father and mother. It is that simple.

Now, the bottom line, plain and simple truth, is that I have not found one article in the LDS.org databases that directly addresses the fact that children in the foster care system already have parents. Parents that are not worthy of their children. Children that deserve a new and loving home. And I have not found one article on fostering written since the Proclamation in 1995.

Which means that much of what I am about to say is the wisdom of man, mingled with scripture, and not just straight out scripture. In other words, it means there will be others who will disagree with me.

The LDS Church frowns upon singles adopting. After all, a child is entitled to a father and a mother. I have my arguments about why singles should be allowed to adopt. But I choose to uphold my leaders and the teachings of my church, and therefore CHOOSE to not publicly state my arguments.

However, I will also add that most countries do not allow singles to adopt. You have to have the money of Angelina Jolie to get around the laws and difficulties. Trust me on this one.

Now, back to fostering. There are some people who continue to argue that even the children in the foster care system deserve a mother and a father. My argument is that these children do have a father and a mother. Parents who do not deserve them. Many of these children end up in group homes, or state run facilities, because there isn't an adequate or appropriate home for them to go to. So why should I not be allowed to open my home to them?

I can provide a loving home to a foster child. I believe I make a good role model for a teenage girl who in just a few years will be kicked out of the system, and will be forced on to her own. What better place for her to spend her most crucial years than in the home of an independent single woman who can teach her how to take care of herself? The truth is I'd love a child of any age. But I mostly want to play that special role to a teenage girl. The fact that teenagers are the hardest to place in foster care only makes me want to do it more. Did you know that in Utah when a proper home cannot be found for teenagers that they are known to be sent to live in "juvy hall," even though they have committed no crime? While I believe a child deserves a father and a mother, I cannot sit by and watch a child live in a detention center when I could have opened my own home to him or her. Is my home not a better alternative than a state run facility?

I want to take just another moment here to acknowledge that this is National Adoption Month. I regularly read three blogs on adoption. Lindsay's blog, "the r house," is one of the most popular blogs on adoption I have found. Lindsay and I grew up in the Oakton Ward together. She is the adoptive mother of two beautiful little boys, and a strong and loud advocate, and a spokesperson for adoption. My friends Richard and Valerie (can I call you my friend too, Valerie?) are the parents of triplets, as well as the adoptive parents of two special needs/physically handicapped little boys. Richard and I have been friends for about ten years now. Nothing warms my heart like reading the stories of their adoptions. Valerie is also an expert on international adoptions. If you are considering one, I highly recommend reading their blog(s). Last but not least, Ginny and her family are moments away from picking up their new daughter in Ghana. Ginny and I have known each other since we were very little girls, and I am anxiously reading along and waiting for her darling little Esther to arrive.

Also, I am very grateful for my own parents who chose to adopt my brother and sister. I can still remember clearly the day my mother told me and my other sister that we were going to have a new baby brother come to live with us. Our close family friends had 3 adopted children at that point, each of a different race. My first question about my new brother was, "what color will he be?" I have adored and loved my brother and sister from the days they arrived in our home. And I have never once questioned that they are my eternal family.

While I would love to adopt a child of my own, not just because my biological clock wants a baby to hold, but because I truly believe in and hunger for the chance to help the less fortunate, I choose not to go that route right now. I can't say that some time in the future I won't change my mind. Like I've said before, ever since I was 12 years old I pictured myself with my own "Brangelina" family someday. It is possible that the foster care system will allow me that. And for now, that is enough.

**Side anecdote** Little and I were talking today about how I will be moving to a bigger apartment soon, one that will have an office space, plus an extra bedroom so I can bring in a foster child. I could see she was concerned immediately that this may be the end of our relationship. I assured her that I would enroll my foster child in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program so that they too could have our relationship. And that she and I will continue to "be a match" when that day comes. She asked if I wanted a baby, and I said no, I was thinking a teenager or maybe a little boy (since I'm so used to little boys). She thought for a minute and said that I needed a teenager, because I'd be the coolest mom ever to a teenager. And if Little says it, it must be true.

7 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Oh, you break my heart!
    You're so awesome. I don't have the strength to adopt or foster a child on my own. I really feel I would need to have a husband - that's me - YOU are stronger and have a bigger heart!

    I would, however go out and start adopting babies if I ever won the lottery. The difference being, I don't think I could do a good job of raising kids if I had to go to work!

    So one more question. Regarding this... "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony," does that mean that they aren't supposed to be adopted either? because they weren't birthed within a marriage?
    Then how did your parents adopt? Or am I still misunderstanding?

    Thanks for answering my original questions.

    You rock!

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  3. While children are "entitled" to married parents, we don't live in the perfect world where that always happens. Also, I think that line is to specifically discourage singles from having a child on their own, and to encourage them to give them up for adoption.
    Adoption is encouraged so that a child can enjoy the benefits of having 2 parents.

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  4. Also, sidenote, the first comment was deleted at the request of the person who left the comment. She had included personal information she wanted me to see, but not the whole world. Hence, I respected her wishes, and deleted the comment.

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  5. Bravo to you Erin. And I can connect you with several people who work in the foster care world in SLC, if you are interested. As well as someone who works with the Utah Youth Mentor project - you would be PERFECT for this - to volunteer as a mentor for foster kids aging out of the system.

    Let me know if you are intersted.

    And I absolutely agree with your Little.

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  6. Okay, anyone telling you that you shouldn't foster a kid because of the Proclamation doesn't have their brain anchored in their skull.

    FOSTERING IS TEMPORARY.

    You are not taking the kids away from their two parents (often, they don't even have TWO parents to begin with). The parents are removing THEMSELVES from their kids via their actions. You are not adopting the kid. You are giving love and guidance that they may not have had before.

    THAT CAN NEVER BE A BAD THING. People need to read Spencer J. Condie's book A Perfect Balance so as to better understand the fine balance between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

    By fostering, you would be fulfilling so many of Christ's most important commandments.

    If you were taking a child away from other foster parents who comprise both the mother unit and the father unit, that would be wrong. But that is NEVER going to happen because most people are not like you: willing to open their hearts and homes to a potential problem child.

    A woman in my ward is single and she adopted a child from Africa. You know why? Because the choice for that child was a loving LDS mom in Canada, who was a teacher, or NO ONE. Sure, maybe one day someone would have adopted this black kid with a cleft palette and lip. But that person or couple can always find another kid to adopt.

    Everyone wants babies. When babies have an opportunity to go to a couple, over a single parent, they should.

    A teenage girl is going to be an adult soon. The time is running out for someone to swoop in and make a difference in her life.

    You can do it and you will do it well and it would bring so much joy into your life.

    Think about it: You want to do something that would be hard, for the right reasons, that would provide very little personal gain, that could bless the life of one person and then other people by the ripple effect. The Lord is going to say no? Because of a technicality that doesn't even apply here? That's why we have bishops and stake presidents. Because the prophet and apostles do not have time to interpret doctrine for each individual situation. Local leaders DO have the power to receive revelation that might be different for individuals. Example: My patriarchal blessing says to honour my parents. The scriptures say it's like, important or something. Well, a few years ago, I cut both of my parents out of my life. My father, for good. My mother, indefinitely. (Four years later, I called her and we have a relationship again.) I consulted my stake leaders about this and they agreed it was for the best because I did not have the emotional capacity to handle them anymore. But now I can. So, does that mean I was wrong to cause my mother all that pain? Why didn't I just stick it out and work harder on developing my maturity? The Lord knew I couldn't do it WITHIN the setting that was causing me pain. It would have been impossible. And my stake leaders were inspired to tell me that.

    The spirit of the law and the letter of the law.

    Best of luck in your decision.

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  7. I meant to add in paragraph six that there is an over abundance of kids who need fostering and adoption.

    Also, we were talking about fostering a teenage girl, too. It just hit me one day. I've always wanted to foster but didn't think we'd be ready anytime soon. I think in a year or two we will do this.

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