LDS Church will no longer do adoption placement, focusing on counseling

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would no longer facilitate adoptions, but instead plans to "refocus" its efforts toward counseling.

Faced with declining numbers of people using adoption services, LDS Family Services said it would work with single expectant parents by referring them to other community services that do offer adoption placement.

"We are still very pro-adoption," David McConkie, the group manager for adoptions at LDS Family Services, said in an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday.

However, effective Aug. 1, LDS Family Services will no longer do adoption placement or finalizing.

"In the state of Utah, particularly there are excellent resources that will provide these services to families," McConkie said.

LDS Family Services was the largest adoption agency in the state with offices across the United States. McConkie told FOX 13 "the world of adoption has changed quite dramatically."

"Some years ago, as many as 15 percent of children born out of wedlock would be placed for adoption. Today, that number nationally is about one percent," he said.

The LDS Church provided FOX 13 with adoption numbers going back to 2007:

LDS adoption rate

McConkie said court rulings about paternal rights and adoptions involving same-sex couples did not have an impact on the decision. LDS Family Services accepts no federal or state funding as a service provider.

The LDS Church will now focus its efforts more on services for single, expectant parents -- including those who choose to raise their child.

"We are trying to expand our services to that group and let them know that whatever their choice, we will help them as much as we can to be successful -- whatever their choice may be," McConkie said.

The decision for the change has been in the works for several years now and was made with the authority of the LDS Church's Presiding Bishopric, he said.

33 comments

    • Arlee

      Actually, LDS Family Services has no way to test for AIDS and doesn’t want to create homes wilt only one “adult?” or orphans!

    • Arlee

      So Bobit, now the Staye of Utah government is a cult? Better tell that to all your budyits that work for the State of Utah and ABC!

  • Trish Ramirez

    I have a feeling this is a direct response to the fact that ‘the church’ doesn’t want to be associated with the very father-unfriendly adoption laws it helped to create now that they are coming under national scrutiny. They are tucking their tails and running like they always do when a social situation they are directly responsible for causing gets bad national PR.

    • Cartman

      For once I agree with you, if you edit out the hate-fueled tone of your post. It’s definitely a PR move.
      The guy that got deployed to Afghanistan, and returned on leave to see his wife have his baby only to find out she’d sneaked off to Utah to give the baby away was probably the last straw. It took him 5 years of fighting in the courts to get his child back. And, incredibly, the adoptive parents actually fought him, even though they knew the truth within a couple of months. He was a married man fighting for his country, and Utah committed the most heinous crime imaginable to a DAD while he wasn’t looking. That was a pretty sordid case, but unfortunately not an isolated one. Lots of men have had to fight Utah to get their kids back. Some successfully, some not.

      It’s bad enough that a woman can choose to kill a man’s child without his say-so.

      • Trish Ramirez

        In the case you are referring, I do believe the biological father now has to share custody 50% with the adoptive parents because the child has been in their custody for so long. There was another case back East where the a man had to RELINQUISH custody to the adoptive parents.

        It’s just not right.

      • Cartman

        Unfortunately, after several years shared custody is in the child’s best interests. It’s impossible to put that mess right.

      • Trish Ramirez

        I know, to take that 5 year old completely away from the only parents she had ever known would definitely not have been in her best interests. The travesty was that it was allowed to get to that point in the first place. In that case, the biological father had asserted his rights at birth or even before, I do believe, but the adoption had already been agreed upon and he had been fighting ever since. Those adoptive parents should have done the right thing half a decade ago.

  • Cartman

    HURRAY! As a dad, let me just say……FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST! Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!

    When they do it right it’s a great thing, but ignoring the existence of DADS is just plain evil.

  • Nikki

    Just for the record…they DO NOT ignore dads!!! We adopted through LDS family services and the birth PARENTS always came first!! Even after we singed papers the dad was able to claim him but did not want to. If the birth father is involved in ANY way they would know that! Oh and Bob…shut up

    • Trish Ramirez

      If that were the case, Nikki, there wouldn’t be children given up without the birth father’s knowledge or consent. I grew up in this state – I knew AT LEAST 5 girls in high school who got pregnant, were shipped off to give the baby up in adoptions facilitated via LDS Family Services where the birth father was not even made a party to the adoption proceedings. The birth mother has the option of not even LISTING a father, which as we all know is a biological impossibility. Children are adopted out without their biological father’s knowledge or consent all the time. This is why we end up with cases before the Supreme Court with fathers begging for contact with their children – fathers who have been trying to get custody of their children since before they were even born but who were denied because adoptions had already been somehow legally agreed upon. That is simply unethical and wrong. Just because both parents were involved in your particular adoption doesn’t mean that this service (or others like it) are doing their due-diligence and meeting their moral and ethical responsibilities with regard to birth fathers. This is precisely the reason that so many birth mothers come to Utah to give birth and orchestrate adoptions in the first place – because the biological father’s rights can be so easily dismissed.

      It’s an absolute travesty and policies need to be changed – there have been high-profile cases in the media and in high courts recently discussing precisely this, and as I said before I firmly believe THIS is why the church-affiliated program is distancing themselves from adoptions – they want to be able to appear clean-handed when they are far from it.

      • Cartman

        In all fairness, Trish, you know perfectly well that was standard procedure in ALL states until fairly recently. Utah may be backward in this regard, but we did not invent the idea that dads don’t matter.

        It’s possible to take issue with Utah and/or the Church and do so without hate.

      • Nikki

        The birth father knew about the baby and about the adoption but still did not come forward. He had 24 hours after placement to have his baby. We have never even met him but he had every opportunity to do so. Every story is different and every state has different rules.

      • Trish Ramirez

        I agree that it WAS standard procedure in the past to keep adoptions dark and dirty secrets, but socially we have evolved beyond that point and Utah and ‘the church’ have deliberately refused to come into the 21st century with regard to father’s rights and adoptions.

        Nikki, you are referring to only your case. There are MANY cases in which fathers are never even told, or maybe aren’t aware until the child is born or even well after – it’s a very flawed system.

        As for my ‘hatred’ toward ‘the church,’ I DO have a lot of VERY negative feelings about the LDS organization, I have never made a secret of that, and I believe they are fully justified. Sorry.

      • mimi

        My mother was a volunteer with LDS social services in the 70’s and she spent an enormous amount of time tracking down fathers to get their signatures before placing a baby for adoption. I don’t know what happened with the girls you talk about but I do know that LDS social services would do everything they could to get the father’s consent

    • Cartman

      They have adopted out the children of servicemen while were deployed overseas. Utah has the most dad-unfriendly adoption laws in the country.
      This is an important step toward bringing Utah into the 21st century, and recognizing that dads actually matter. No man should EVER have to fight in court to get back his own children.
      I adopted overseas in part to ensure that I would NOT be taking some man’s kids away from him. The country where I went makes every effort to locate the dad, and any other extended family, and make sure that NOBODY wants to take the kids. Right up to the moment the gavel bangs down, any relative can walk in and say, “I’ll take them.” But once it’s done, it’s done FOREVER. They destroy all prior records of the kids’ existence. As far as that country is concerned I AM the birth father.

      Do it once, do it right.

    • michelle

      If the birth mother lies and says she doesn’t know who the father is then yes but I placed my child through LDS services and the father had to sign or the adoption couldn’t go through!

      • Cartman

        All you had to say was “I don’t know who the father is”, or “I don’t know how to find the father.” Nobody checks. That’s the problem.

  • Curtis Jensen (@curtisjunk)

    I personally believe they are also trying to avoid the inevitable soon to be reality where they would find it very difficult/illegal to deny adoptions to LGBT families who are legally married. I don’t believe for one second there is a decline in adoption demand.

    • Cartman

      Such adoptions are already legal in Utah, and happen all the time. Sorry. Nice try. But it’s true that the Church isn’t required to participate. Nor should it be.

    • Norman

      Bingo! I believe you are right regarding the possibility of the LDS Church being forced to place children with homosexual couples. This was the first thought that passed through my mind upon reading this article.

  • Nikki

    Well Trish it’s not just my case. I know a lot of adoption cases that include the father. Maybe he (and she) should take more responsibility.

    • ThatOneLady

      Since you never met the real father, how can you say that he consented? Because the adoption agency told you so? Give me a break. If you worked with LDS adoption services, you PAID for them to convince a vulnerable mother that she and her baby were better off without each other. Additionally, you paid to fund the kidnapping of wanted children. Own it.

      • Mom of Four

        Those “vulnerable” young women you are talking about went to LDS Family Services on their own. They CHOSE adoption rather than abortion or trying to raise a baby while being a child themselves. Telling a Mother who was blessed to become a Mother through adoption that she paid to have “wanted children kidnapped” is not only cruel, it is completely false! I wonder, do you have children? Did you struggle to become a Mother? Do you KNOW first hand what it is like to be on either end of an adoption story?

  • Alean

    We adopted 3 children through Lds Family Services in 3 different states. Utah, California, and Ohio. In all 3 instances birth fathers were made aware, served w/papers, public notices were given and they had the opportunity to come forward and claim their parental rights. In all 3 cases they chose not to take that responsibility.

  • carla

    No one knows anybody else situation and the decisions they’ve made regarding their decision on adoptiin. There will always be the uneducated talking about the LDS church only going by what those who doesn’t know our faith. Ni church is responsible for anyone’s choice. We believe in free will.

  • Debra

    I just watched a documentary about adoption in the State of Michigan. Plenty of fathers there that claimed they were out of the loop. Nice try bashing Utah/LDS influence for another societal whoa. Seriously though, reality does not back you up.

  • Broooke Hardman

    Mimi, umm NOPE. My best friend went through LDS adoptions and the Dad was never mentioned, not once! I signed the papers stating my friend was of sound mind and wished to place her child. I was involved from the time she had the positive pregnancy test until I kissed that beautiful baby goodbye! She stayed in the hospital, not on the maternity floor for 48 hours, exactly the time the Father had to claim his rights ( he was never notified) and off they went with their new baby. This was 18 years ago….

  • Mom of Four

    I have 4 children, 3 of them were adopted through LDS Family Services and in each case, the birth father had to sign his rights away. One of my children did not come home to us until she was 15 months old, because the father wouldn’t do anything the courts asked him to, yet wouldn’t sign the papers either. So, if you don’t KNOW what you are talking about first hand, you should probably stay quiet. Note to THATONELADY, all I can say to your comment is WOW! Kidnapping? Seriously? My husband and I (in the words of our Birth Mother’s) blessed the lives of these young women who were alone and not ready to be mothers by loving these children and giving them a good home. You, THATONELADY are a cruel human.

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