PAYSON, Utah -- A Utah family says they were rejected as foster parents because of their religion.
“Because we’re Mormon, because we’re LDS Faith, they can’t be here with us,” said Sandi Pond of Payson.
The Christian center they were working with said the Mormon family does not fit their definition of Christian. The Pond family was ready to open their home this summer to foster two orphan siblings from Ukraine, children they hoped to eventually adopt.
“We were excited to just figure it out and give them a taste of what it would be like to be in a family,” Sandi Pond said.
Sandi and Rick have wanted to grow their family for years, but after Sandi miscarried late into her last pregnancy she found out she couldn't have any more kids of her own. Then she stumbled on the Ukrainian Resource Center, a Christian organization based out of Virginia.
“For whatever reason my heart just like jumped out at this opportunity,” Sandi Pond said.
A summer foster program was right around the corner, and Sandi was drawn to a brother and sister who are the same age as her kids.
“We were looking at this as an opportunity to get to know the kids and possibly move forward for an adoption,” Rick Pond said.
The couple worked with the center, filled out paperwork and raised all the money to cover the expenses to get the children to the U.S. But a day before the deadline, the family got a rejection letter.
And in clarifying the decision the director wrote: "Unfortunately, much of the Mormon faith is in direct conflict with what we, as an organization and our boards members, believe as Christians."
Sandi Pond said they were surprised by the response.
“We pray. We read the scriptures. We love our neighbors," she said. "Do they really think there is something awful that's going to happen to these kids because we're Mormon? That really bothers me."
Fox 13 reached out to the Ukrainian Resource Center. They did not respond, but an hour after we called this message went out to the foster parents.
“We just got word there may be some negative reporting going on about URC in the state of Utah... We are not afraid to stand up for what we believe and even if there are those who wish to persecute us because of it," the message said in part.
The Ponds said they now feel robbed of enjoying the summer, and maybe the rest of their lives, with these children.
“What's tough for us is we are Christian and we have good standards and we have a good family and we just want to grow that family,” Rick Pond said.
The family says they have no hard feelings towards the URC, but they hope no other Mormon families have to go through this.