Saturday, May 28, 2011

talk i wrote for church

Bishop came over the other day and asked if i’d like to talk in sacrament mtg. i was all “oh...”, then he said “about adoption" and i was like “ok!” some of you will already know my passion for this topic. adoption is the cause i am most anxiously engaged in. i’ve been speaking to all sorts of audiences about adoption for the last 13 yrs or so, however, never before in a sacrament mtg, in fact, i've never heard it addressed in sacrament meeting. i’m praying the material i share is appropriate, uplifting, and relevant to y’all.

in a Jan 08 ensign article entitled “why Adoption”, Fred Riley, then commissioner of LDS Family Services, said that adoption is a profound gospel principle. He points out that when the prophet Elijah restored the sealing keys, these keys encompassed adoption. And one of the ways in which Jesus Christ is our Father is through adoption, for we become His sons and His daughters when we are adopted into the family of Christ.

Additionally, Church members who are not direct descendants of Israel may be adopted into the house of Israel through their faith. From the time of Adam, adoption has been a priesthood ordinance,” says Brother Riley. “It’s a principle of the gospel that probably all of us will experience at some point as we’re literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.

D&C 84 34 says in regard to covenant keepers “They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham,”

in Abraham 2 10 the Lord promises Abraham, “And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;”

Mosiah 5 7 says “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

we are all adopted children, if we play our cards right. and it is in no way second rate, we are of the covenant Abrahamic family as though we were born into it, likewise, when a child is sealed to their parents, they are parent and child, eternally and inseparably. never ask an adoptive parent if they hope to have one of “their own”, they already do. biology does not have to exist for complete and genuine family love to. if we have eternal perspective, we remember that we are ALL family anyway and that we are charged to be our brothers keeper.

15 yrs ago i sent the flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone home with his eternal family. the biology we share is real and significant, it’s a connection that should not be denied, but it is nothing to the keys and stewardship his parents have over him. blood is thicker than water but the sealing covenant is thicker still. through the holy ghost and the tender mercy of the Lord, i was lead to his parents and it was revealed to me that he was theirs before he was mine. i did not share him with them, they shared him with me. i believe he came to them through me because nothing short of maternal love and responsibility would’ve shaken me awake. my Father is so kind and so concerned for me that he sent me a most precious little missionary. on his way home, from God’s arms to his parents', i was privileged to hold him in mine.
through adoption and through my son i learned love. the moment i my eyes laid on him for the first time, i knew that i would do anything for him, anything. i’d never felt that kind of love before. some think that in order to make such a choice, my maternal affections and connection must have been to some degree deficient but what they don’t understand is that it is BECAUSE i loved him that much that i was able to break my own heart, had i loved him an ounce less, i couldn’t’ve done it. whatever the choice, it is the best interest of the child that should be the paramount consideration, even if it means we hurt.

i know that there are surely those in the congregation who have been faced with this difficult and heart wrenching decision, or have loved ones who have, and have gone another way. please perceive no judgement. i wish only to present the doctrines of adoption and my own experience with it. i sincerely hope none will be offended.

we all know what the proc to the fam says “Children are entitled to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” but i find that it is little known among members what the church's stance on adoption is or that there even is one. in Oct of 04 the first Pres releases this statement “We express our support of unwed parents who place their children for adoption in stable homes with a mother and a father. We also express our support of the married mothers and fathers who adopt these children. Having a secure, nurturing, and consistent relationship with both a father and a mother is essential to a child’s well-being. When choosing adoption, unwed parents grant their children this most important blessing. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents in this life and throughout the eternities. We commend all those who strengthen children and families by promoting adoption.” and again in June of 2002 “When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, when the probability of a successful (and the statistics for success in such situations are bleak) marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, unwed parents should be counseled to place the child for adoption through LDS Family Services to ensure that the baby will be sealed to temple-worthy parents. Birth parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of a sense of obligation to care for one's own. Unwed parents are not able to provide the blessings of the sealing covenant. Unmarried parents should give prayerful consideration to the best interests of the child and the blessings that can come to an infant who is sealed to a mother and father.

i worked with a young lady from a culture within which placing for adoption is uncommon and often stigmatized. one of the case workers inquired of her mother how they came to their decision in spite of this opposition. the grandmother to be shared “our extended family are angry and don’t understand our choice. i love my family. i love my culture, but we follow the prophet”.

it is the inclination of people, particularly young people, to see ourselves as the exception, to study and statistics, even to a prophets council. when adoption was first suggested to me i was tremendously offended. i thought that was for “those people”, the extremely young, the extremely poor, the drug addicted. not the bishop’s daughter. i see now that adoption is not only for those who would be bad parents, but it is a matter of good, better, best. i would have been good. they were better. i would have been enough. he has the best.

some, as addressed in the first presidency's statement, will encourage a mother to parent so as to teach her responsibility, “you made your bed, you lie in it”. but a child is innocent and made no mistake. they should not pay the price of someone else’s. choosing adoption is CERTAINLY not evading consequence, and a child is NOT an object lesson.

my other great obstacle to the idea was fear of my own weakness. i thought “i can’t, it’s too hard”. i was shown that the Lord giveth NO commandment save he shall prepare a way. i didn’t have the strength OR the wisdom, but He did. HE sustained me and through him, i did the impossible, i defied my own heart and very instinct.

we can do hard things and the Lord compensates. Matthew 19 29 says And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

the Lord has always remembered my sacrifice, and he has comforted and taught and carried and preserved me. He has said “whosoever will loose his life for my sake shall find it".

The Lord asks us what we will consecrate to him, what we will put on the alter and sometimes he requires us to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

Abraham knew the meaning of “thy will be done” as he placed his long awaited and only son on the sacrificial alter. Moses’ mama understood “thy will be done” as she put that little baby in the basket on the river. Hannah prayed the Lord to remove her infertility and was finally blessed with a son and then gave her Samuel back to the Lord.

every yr in the US there are over a million unwed pregnancies, the largest percentage of these are aborted, the next largest group are single parented, a smaller number will marry, and less than 1% are placed for adoption.

now juxtapose that with this information 6% men 12% women of child bearing age have impaired or no ability to conceive, another study shows 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility. at my work, we have 3 drawers holding our adoptive applicant files, we are currently counseling about 6 women who are even considering adoption.

i’d like to look at adoption from another angle for a moment. the scriptures are full of Jesus charging us to be our brothers keeper, and specifically to care for the fatherless. this counsel was repeatedly stressed to us in the last conference. in Matthew 18:5 the Lord says “and whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”

Joseph and Emma adopted 2 children and after Joseph’s martyrdom, sweet Emma adopted the child of her 2nd husband’s mistress.

Joseph adopted Jesus, Jesus adopts us and he said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not”.

as i said, as far as domestic infant adoptions like mine, there are not enough children available even for the demand. however, there a millions of fatherless growing up in institutions internationally, and if that is outside of your financial possibilities, the state covers costs for foster-adoptions, for which there is also great need. we have so much, perhaps as a family some of you might ask the Lord if he would trust one of these precious spirits to your care. foster and international adoptions can be challenging but again, we should not fear hard things. He qualifies us and expands our resources, and abundantly compensates our losses and heartaches.

for women like myself who want their child to have the world but don’t have it to give, for those who pray for children but can’t conceive, and for children born into less than ideal situations, adoption is, as Isaiah says, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”.

Troy Dunn, a prominent member of the church calls it prayer trading. Adoptive hopefulls pray for family, birth parents pray for the best life for their child, and through eachother the Lord answers their prayers and calms their troubled hearts.

the beginning of both paths are troubled, a crisis pregnancy, infertility, but in hindsight we call ourselves blessed and we thank God for his wisdom and our tribulation.

perhaps some will be surprised at my bold confession, but please understand, neither bringing a child into the world nor placing a child for adoption are transgressions, on the contrary, it is the holiest thing i’ve ever been a part of . i have no shame attached to this story, it is about what i did right, not what i did wrong, that part is gone from me. The atonement of Jesus Christ is miraculous and comprehensive. my repentance culminated at the birth of my son. i was baffled like Enos when he said “Lord, how is it done? i couldn’t believe how literal and real it was to be "born again, a new creature". the burdens of having been raised in abuse as well as the burdens of my own poor choices were so lightened. shame and pain alleviated . i had new sight, new desires, new attitude, new character. what was lost was restored and then some. my worst day in the last 15 yrs is better than my best day in my first 18. Christ’s atonement reaches back in time, it retrieves what is so far gone we thought irretrievable, it gives us our vision back, it heals our sickest sicknesses, it binds even the heart broken a thousand times, it removes our handicaps! it teaches what we never knew and reminds of what we forgot. i was brand new, i WAS a little child. i felt the tenderness of my Father in a way uncommon to this earthly experience. i still know it, i can never deny it, He did all that and more for me. the Lord is offended when we think our sins are greater than his power to forgive and REDEEM. when we "don't understand his mercies". when the enemy of our soul whispers that we are too far gone, that the Lord doesn’t even want us anymore, that we have reached the bounds of the atonement. he assures us specifically and definitely. even in my unworthiness he called and invited me back. he still wanted me. its his work and his glory after all. he will leave the ninety and nine for us! and there is a feast waiting for our return! its so affordable, we just have to be as little children and believe him. and its ok if we don't believe completely right now as long as we can ask in whatever sincerity we can conjure " help thou my unbelief". i had forgotten how to be as a little child so i asked my good Father to teach me, and good Father's don't upbraid or withhold when asked for help or good things.
in placing a child with a couple who could not give eachother children i did for them what they could not do for themselves and in turn the Savior has done for me what i could not do for myself.
this is my testimony and my conversion, and it is so intermingled with my adoption story. i’m blessed to have it and i’m grateful to share it with y’all and i do so in His name......

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

a paper my baby brother wrote on open adoption

Domestic Infant Adoption

Let’s Be Open About It

Jesse Hyde
April 1 2011

Domestic Infant Adoption

Let’s Be Open About It

Brother Brugger


April 1 2011

Source: Adoption U.S.A. (2009). Washington, D.C.

After participating in a series of emails and phone conversations with my sister, I am a changed man. My sister Tamra, who gave up her son for adoption fifteen years ago, has recently been presented with an unexpected inner struggle. Five years after her son Justin was born, all correspondence (regulated by the adoption agency) with his family was dropped as the agency policies stated. Years later, Tamra discovered that she had been misinformed and the policy had been changed a year before the adoption took place. Though she had been grateful for the first few years that she could celebrate with the adoptive family, she became distraught. She felt as though an important relationship had been stolen from her.

So what is Tamra’s struggle? She didn’t know where to go from there. After years of searching and practically giving up she recently found the family’s information with the help of friends. All of the sudden she could see pictures of her son as well as the person he is becoming. I have to admit, I was kind of afraid for her and Justin.

Previous to the research I have done, I thought that open adoptions were dangerous. I thought of all the things that could go wrong with such a relationship. However, I was the one who was wrong. That is great and exciting news for her. However, because the adoption did not begin open, Tamra now faces fear, worry, and a difficult decision. She is still building the courage to contact the family. It could be exactly what Justin needs at this time. He can have questions answered and have love reassured. “But I don’t know,” Tamra said, “I’m a stranger to him and it might very well be disruptive.” Now, if he doesn’t respond positively, she has something to lose. “Now I am incredibly vulnerable and EVERYTHING is mystery.” She feels that if the adoption had been open from the start, there would be nothing to fear (Tamra Hyde, Personal Communication, March 30, 2011).

Adoption is a blessing no matter which way you go about it. Though closed adoptions have worked for many people and are not necessarily bad, the choice is merely one between good, better, and best. To my surprise, after these discussions with Tamra, I am confident that open adoption is generally the best choice for all people involved.

Source: Adoption U.S.A. (2009). Washington, D.C.

To be clear and specific, only domestic infant adoption –the adoption of a child from within the United States at the time of their birth– will be addressed. Within this category there are essentially two types of adoption: open and closed. An open adoption involves “the sharing of information and/or contact between the adoptive and biological parents of an adopted child” (Adoption Media, What is). There can be many different ways to handle open adoptions. It can be strictly confidential or fully disclosed. In a closed adoption, “the adopting parents and the placing parents never meet and know nothing or very little about one another” (Adoption Media, Closed).

Historically, the birthmother did not choose to which family the child might go. The agency would select who they thought was best and they would set and regulate the terms by which they could connect. Unbelievably, Tamra’s adoption in 1996 (in which she did chose the family) was as open as it got. Today, open adoption has fully expanded and has blessed many more families and individuals.

Open adoption has become so popular in part because many birthmothers demand it. Whereas closed adoption is debatably thought of as a good solution for the child and adoptive family, it has proven to be a huge struggle for the birthparents. As adoptive families are educated and exposed to open adoptions, they begin to realize the blessings as well. At first, adoptive parents can tend to fear the idea of open adoption and sometimes even the birthmother. During what Tamra labels the “dark ages” of adoption, adoptive families were taught to fear birthmothers. The adoptive parents were made out to look like heroes that rescued the poor child from a “faceless villain who gets what they deserve” (Hyde, 2011).

Tamra has become a voice for adoption through her dedicated involvement with LDS Family Services and other organizations. Her countless interactions with other birthmothers, adoptive families and adoptees coupled with her dedicated and constant study of adoptive matters, she has become an expert on the subject. She feels that education and, most importantly, exposure will change the misconceptions of the adoptive family and change their hearts. Tamra admits that she too was nervous when she saw her first fully open adoption unfold back in 2002. However she has fully accepted it as she has seen it work time after time. As adoptive parents have opened themselves to interact with the birthmother, she becomes “humanized” to them. “They see that they are conscientious, brave, and selfless women . . . not drug addicted, selfish, psychologically unstable women who couldn't be bothered to raise a child.” Though some fear that a relationship with the birthmother would threaten their role as parents, there is no need to fear. She has already proven her unselfishness. She has already proven that she wants what is best for the child. Tamra proclaims, “Show me a birthmom and I want to be friends with her” (Hyde, 2011). Any adoptive family would be wise to do the same.

The negative view one may have of the birthmother does not affect just her, but it affects the child. No child wants to hear that they were unwanted, unloved, and abandoned or that their relationship to their family is second rate. Can a well-educated and prepared adoptive family overcome these struggles without an open adoption? Yes and no. Education can only go so far. Here, psychiatrists state struggles that closed adoption cannot fully compensate for:

Many adoptees have felt the "disquieting loneliness" that Roots author Haley described. Not knowing their heritage or why they were placed for adoption left many with devastating feelings of rejection . . . "Adoptees can feel frustrated at their inability to connect with their roots," says Marshall Schecter, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Some have trouble forming an identity when they reach adolescence. Others may develop fantasies—both positive and negative—about their birth family. Some adoptees spend a lifetime never finding answers to their questions…" According to adoption scholar David Brodzinsky of Rutgers University, "For adoptees, part of them is hurt at having once been relinquished… That part remains vulnerable for the rest of their lives as they grieve at various predictable points for the unknown parents who gave them away." (Hochman & Huston, 1994)

In an open situation, the child will not feel abandoned or lonely but will feel a sense of belonging. They will feel special and loved because the birthmother is available to show it and tell it to them personally. Karen Dunkley, an adoptive mom said, “We are extremely open with our adoption and it has made Natalie comfortable with the situation. If she has questions we answer them. Sometimes she has asked her birth mother questions” (Karen Dunkley, personal communication, March 30, 2011).

A new child should be something that is celebrated (if not more than usual) no matter how they entered that family. They should know they are special because they have a birthmother that loves them just as much as their adoptive mother. Karen continues, “I believe that a birth mother when giving up a child for adoption is showing great love and unselfishness. I believe she deserves to have a place in that child’s life… I want [my child] to know that she was loved not given away” (Dunkley, 2011).

Another reason why someone might want a closed adoption is because it would help the birthmother “get over” it. Again, this is only partly true. Tamra explains:

I have progressed. I've had healing. My priorities and focuses have evolved. Where, in the beginning, I thought of little else, my world is now full of other interests and pursuits. While this isn't my whole identity, it's still a big chunk. And that's ok. It’s awesome in fact. I will think about Justin and his family everyday of my life. And it brings me joy, not pain. For nine months we shared our food, water, blood, and oxygen! He is flesh of my own flesh! Bone of my bone! I will NEVER be "over it". And I don't wanna [sic] be. I will never put them away in a box in the closet. This story is my FAVORITE story! About my favorite people! It will bless me all my days! (Hyde, 2009)

For Tamra and many birthmothers like her, there is no reason or desire to “get over it.” This experience is positively life-altering for them. People might not think about what birthmothers have gone through. When speaking of adoption, the most popular phrase seems to be, “Do what’s best for the child.” Open adoption shows that it is possible that the best can be done for the child, adoptive family, and the birthmother. Some forget that these birthmothers are just as human as the child. Even if open adoption was merely only as good as closed adoption, to choose closed would only be to deny the birthmother’s opportunity for a richer life.

One caution that is given often by people involved on any side of adoption is that each case must be individualized according to specific circumstances. There are so many options with open adoption that each person is bound to find something that will work best for everyone. Sure, there are few but very legitimate reasons to keep an adoption closed, but those should only be the exception.

The greatest source of peace, comfort, and direction for Tamra and many others she has worked with is God. Through His direction, she has found the right family to place her child with and she feels that her finding Justin again is a work of God. She also told a story of a seven-year-old boy praying to hear from his birthmother who refused to have any contact. Without her knowing why, she suddenly felt it was time to reconnect with her son. His prayer was answered. From a religious perspective Tamra stated, “Love is an unlimited, renewable resource. There is enough to go around and we are ALL family anyway. Justin wasn't mine, he isn't theirs, and I am not my own. If we esteem every man as a brother and we are our brother's keeper, we are ready for open adoption” (Hyde, 2011). Looking at it this way, a parent must always recognize that they are merely stewards over one of God’s children. All feelings of entitlement must be gone to have a functional adoption.

Furthermore, each adoption must be considered on a case-by-case basis. This applies to anyone whether they are religious or not. Each child, by nature, is a different individual with different needs. The myth that adopted children will resent or reject their adoptive parents if they know their birthparents is a false and highly misrepresented argument. That argument really has more to do with personality and how one is raised than it has to do with the difference between open, closed, adopted, or biological.

There are still reasonable boundaries that must be set for an open adoption to work the best it can. Open adoptions will and do fail where there is pride, resentment, and lack of consideration and communication. Any relationships would struggle under those circumstances. Communication and humility flow freely through open adoptions done correctly. Birthmothers do not become some odd, strange, second-mom thing; they become another extended family member who loves the child as any family member does.

It always seemed normal to Danny Bueller, a 24-year-old student in Vancouver. "I have more people in my life who love me than most people do. I don’t see how that can be a bad thing," Danny said. His adoptive mom and birthmother are best friends. Though that isn’t the norm and “less than 10 percent of families in open adoption become friends, or even meet in person frequently . . . they don’t need to, to forge a connection that will bring lasting benefits to the child” (Meltz, 2011).

When making the choice between open and closed adoption, the most important thing is love. Tamra wants Justin to know why she gave him up, that she “loved him literally more than her own life, that she wanted him but put her own heart on the alter for the life he could have” (Hyde, 2011). Jen, an adoptive parent of six, explains how hard it is to make sure your adopted child knows that he or she is loved. Things need to be sacrificed to do what is best for your child.

Why do I believe in open contact even when families are dysfunctional, addicted or even actively participating in criminal acts? Because I believe it's best for my kids. I took my son to meet his biological father in a Federal Prison. Was that easy? Of course not. It was scary and overwhelming and slightly nauseating, and that was just for ME, I cannot fathom what he was feeling, but it was still totally the right thing to do. Why? Because my son wanted to. Because it's his truth and his reality. Because he has a right to love his parent even if I would rather my kids never talked to anyone who has ever used drugs in their entire lives. Because he needed to know with his own ears that he was loved BY THEM. (Jen, 2010)

The hard things have to be done so each individual involved –especially the child– (and even the birthparents) can be blessed, taught, and beautified.
The examples given here have only been a small taste of the benefits of open adoption. It has brought these people and many more just like them happy lives. It will continue to bless each child, birthparent and adoptive parent as they chose to communicate openly and responsibly, rid themselves of pride, and do everything they can to love their child. Open adoption isn’t just a good choice; it is the best choice.


Adoption Media (n.d.) Closed Adoption. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from

Adoption Media (n.d.) What is Open Adoption? Retrieved March 30, 2011, from

Hochman, G & Huston, A (1994) Open Adoption. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from

Hyde, Tamra (2009, November 3) Myths and Misconceptions about Adoption. Message posted to

Jen (2010, June 29) Why Openness? Message posted to

Meltz, B.F. (2011) Open Adoption Over the Years. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from

Vandivere, S., Malm, K., and Radel, L. (2009) Adoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007

National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.