KIM - Asks questions about the Church's doctrine on unwed teen mothers and adoption.

JOEL - When a baby is born out of wedlock what is of primary concern, of course, is the health and well-being and eternal salvation of the child. Any good mother will want to do what ever is necessary to assure the child of a healthy life and good future. Sometimes the solution may require placing the child for adoption. Here is some information from the LDS Church Social Services about adoption:

"- Unwed mothers who keep their children are more likely to have serious employment and financial problems.
- Infants in day care during the first five years of their lives are more likely to develop insecure attachments to their parents.
- Unwed mothers who place their children for adoption generally obtain a higher education, better employment and are less likely to repeat or abort another out of wedlock pregnancy.
- When compared with the general population, children placed with adoptive couples are better off economically and have parents who are better educated and older than the parents of other children.
- Adoptive parents are less likely to divorce.
- In some situations, choosing to parent may not be a responsible choice. Suzanne Arms, in her book "To Love and Let Go", suggests that "giving up a child out of love and respect for its needs is one form of mothering and a most legitimate one." Responsibility is not limited to the rearing of the children.
- Many birth mothers are deeply concerned about the mental health of their child and fear that by releasing they will be assigning their child to a life of emotional instability. Recent research does not support the misconception that adopted children are psychologically at risk. Many studies through the years have shown that no differences exist between adopted and non-adopted children in terms of adjustment, delinquency, or mental health.
- Sometimes birth parents find adoption undesirable because they fear a future of never knowing anything about their child's circumstances. In the past, secrecy in every part of the adoption process was thought to be best for everyone. What has become apparent, however, is that this policy of secrecy has not been best for everyone. Consequently, most agencies allow birth mothers to care for their baby in the hospital, allow the exchange of non-identifying information, allow the birth parents to help in the selection of the adoptive parents, and some agencies even allow a face-to-face meeting with the adoptive parents (without names and addresses being shared) prior to the placement of the child."

Here is what I found concerning what the Church leadership reccommends:
From the Office of the First Presidency, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, February 1, 1994. To: General Authorities; Regional Representatives; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents.
"Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. When the unwed parents are unable or unwilling to marry, they should be encouraged to place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS Social Services. Placing the infant for adoption through LDS Social Services helps ensure that the baby will be reared in a faithful Latter-day Saint family and will receive the blessings of the sacred sealing covenant.
In many instances, an unwed parent is not able to provide the stable, nurturing environment so essential for the baby's well-being. When deciding to place the baby for adoption, the best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration. Such a decision enables the unwed parent to do what is best for the child and enhances the prospect for the blessings of the gospel in the lives of all concerned."

From President Hinckley:
"When marriage is not possible, experience has shown that adoption, difficult though this may be for the young mother, may afford a greater opportunity for the child to live a life of happiness. Wise and experienced professional counselors and prayerful bishops can assist in these circumstances." (CR Oct 1994)

Another option is that if the mother has a close relationship with her own parents and relatives, successful arrangements could be made to live with them or ask them to help provide support, epecially if the mother needs to work to earn money. Hopefully the child's father would be responsible enough to at least provide some financial support as well.
President Hinckley said, "..may I say that we have taken the position that fathers who fail to provide support for their children cannot expect the privileges of the House of the Lord(i.e. No Temple reccommend). The scriptures are straightforward in their declarations concerning the responsibility of fathers with reference to their children." (CR Apr 1990)

Unfortunately, when mistakes like this are made the solution is never easy or painless. And one needs to be careful not to make a completely emotional decision, but to include some wisdom and spiritual insight into it. If the mother decides to keep the baby it is important to discuss the options with her Bishop and/or Stake President and professional councelors and consider all possible resources that would be available in raising the child on her own. Then make the decission with the help of God through prayer.

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