Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stand up against the Policy of Shame

I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love my church, I love my faith, and most of the time, I love the people of my church too. But I have to admit sometimes that there are a lot of stigmas and prejudices associated with our way of life. Most of the time, I just live with them. But sometimes, there are stigmas that I want to fight.

One of these is what I am coming to call the Policy of Shame, especially in regards to adoption.

I was talking to a friend of mine who works for LDS Family Services, the adoption agency that I was adopted through and through which I placed my son for adoption three years ago. We were talking about the changes happening for the new website (which you can see if you follow the link). I see these as purely good and wonderful changes. Necessary changes. My friend mentioned that the strongest advocate against the change really disliked that all the videos on the website are of real birthmothers, telling their own stories. I couldn't comprehend, at the time, why this could possibly be a problem. It all came back to the Policy of Shame.

In the LDS Church, we are not supposed to have sex before marriage, and then only with our spouse. This is one of the most heavily emphasized doctrines. In the case of birthmothers, clearly we have disobeyed this doctrine. In the old school/closed adoption days, unwed mothers were encouraged to get married, and where that couldn't happen, they were encouraged to place their babies for adoption, and then pretend like it had never happened--at least in public. Read: The Policy of Shame.

This advocate against the change protested against using real birthmothers because of the influence of this mindset. According to the Policy of Shame, birthmothers should not be exposed publicly like that. They should keep their shame quiet, and private--especially if there are others who look up to them.

But it's just not that way anymore! Adoption has been opened, and people are telling their stories of success. We can't stop people from making mistakes. There will always be unwed mothers and fathers. That's part of life. But by opening up the adoption process, we are able to show what wonderful joy and blessings can result from what otherwise can be the darkest time in someone's life.

I think we are the better for it. We=birthparents, adoptive parents, and especially adoptees. Open adoption has created a new and healthier way of adoption-life.

Don't get me wrong. I don't blab that I'm a birthmom all over the place. There is a time and place (like this!) to talk about my adoption story. I struggle with it more in person than I do in the semi-anonymous computer world. But I am not ashamed. Frankly, I love the fact that I have this huge, endless family. And I love my son. I'm so proud of him. And I love his parents; I count them among my closest friends. No matter how I regard the circumstances of his birth, I will always count it among the most significant and wonderful parts of my life. And the wonderfulamazingness of open adoption is something that I want to share with everybody. Read: EVERYBODY.

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