“LDS Family Services: Adopting a Noble Cause,” Ensign, July 2001, 78
Last summer as Melissa* was watching television, a public service announcement caught her attention. In the ad, a young boy expressed his appreciation for his birth mother, who had placed him for adoption.
“I just broke down and cried,” says Melissa. Single and pregnant, she had been wrestling with the decision of what to do for her unborn child. The television spot—sponsored by LDS Family Services—was one of many factors that influenced her ultimately to choose to place her baby for adoption.
Fred Riley, commissioner of LDS Family Services, hopes other unwed mothers-to-be are similarly touched by the commercials. The ad campaign was initiated last year, and a new campaign was launched in April this year. The ads constitute a major part of efforts throughout the United States and Canada by LDS Family Services to promote adoption as a positive choice. Other efforts include the staging of a conference at Brigham Young University to promote adoption; this year the third annual conference takes place on 27–28 July.
“We hope to help parents make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the child,” says Brother Riley. “Typically birth mothers are told by others, ‘You can single-parent; here’s the government aid you can get.’ Many are told they should consider abortion. Hardly anyone says, ‘Have you thought about adoption?’” Brother Riley says the ads support the First Presidency’s position that adoption is a positive solution when marriage is not feasible (see “Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 80).
The ads were created by Bonneville Communications and the Church’s Audiovisual Department. Curt Dahl of Bonneville Communications hopes the ads help dismantle the idea that birth mothers who choose adoption are taking the easy way out. “If anything, they are doing the most noble thing,” says Brother Dahl, who with his wife adopted a baby girl seven years ago. “They are doing something that in many instances is a lot more difficult than keeping the child. They’re providing a wonderful blessing both for the child and for the child’s adoptive family.”
Another purpose of the ad campaign is to heighten awareness of the adoption services provided by LDS Family Services. Among other services, the organization provides free counseling to birth parents and their parents, medical and legal arrangements, and adoption education classes for prospective adoptive parents.
The annual conference at BYU is for members of Families Supporting Adoption, a national organization sponsored by LDS Family Services.
Those involved in the adoption promotion campaign are gratified to hear stories of people like Catherine and Glen, a couple who were beneficiaries of a birth mother’s decision to place her baby for adoption through LDS Family Services. Catherine vividly remembers the moment four years ago when a tiny baby with masses of dark hair was placed in her arms for the first time. “The bond was immediate,” she says now. “We just loved him and knew he belonged to our family.”
Catherine hopes the adoption campaign encourages other unwed birth mothers to consider adoption, particularly through LDS Family Services. “We have so much respect for mothers like Jackson’s birth mother,” she says. “It was a huge sacrifice on her part, but she wanted what was best for Jackson. For that, she’ll always be in our hearts.”