“LDS Family Services Helping Parents,” Ensign, Oct. 2004, 73–74
Melissa (name has been changed) had always wanted children. But not like this—not alone and away from the Church. At 29, Melissa found herself pregnant, single, and uncertain.
Her situation is not unique. According to statistics from 2000, one out of every three births in the United States (1.34 million) is to an unmarried woman.1 Sadly, those births represent only about 49 percent of pregnancies to single women. According to a 1999 study, 39 percent of pregnant single women choose to abort their pregnancies.2
“I’ve always been against abortion,” Melissa says. “But all of a sudden I was in that place. It seemed like an easy way out. No one would have to find out. Nothing would have to change. I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed. But I knew if I had done it, I would never have gotten over it.”
Instead, Melissa decided to seek help from LDS Family Services even though she had not been active in the Church for some time. LDS Family Services is a Church-sponsored nonprofit organization that, among other things, provides free counseling for birth mothers.
Because “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,”3 the Church encourages women who are single and pregnant to marry. But when a successful marriage is unlikely, Church leaders have repeatedly endorsed adoption as a way to provide the child with the blessings of being sealed to an eternal family.
Melissa barely knew the father of her child, and she knew marrying him wasn’t an option. Only two choices remained: raise the child alone or give the child up for adoption.
“I cried every day,” she says. “I’ve always wanted a family, so I didn’t want to give the baby up. Even after I decided that adoption was the right thing for me to do, it was hard to come to grips with it. But I knew I had to do what was best for my son.”
Had Melissa chosen to raise her child alone, she would have been in the majority. Data provided by LDS Family Services suggests that of single women who give birth in the U.S., almost three out of four choose to raise the child alone. About 1 percent of all U.S. pregnancies to single women end in adoption.4
Unfortunately, studies have shown that single mothers experience elevated rates of depression, low self-esteem, and poor health.5 Children raised by a single mother are six times more likely to live in poverty,6 are twice as likely to drop out of high school, and are two to three times more likely to have serious emotional and behavioral problems than children who grow up with both parents.7
“I chose to give my son up for adoption because I wanted him to have everything I grew up having,” Melissa says now, a year after giving birth. “I am so grateful he has exactly what I wanted him to have. He has what he should have. It’s more than I could have given him.”
Because of the Church’s emphasis on the importance of the righteous influence of a mother and father sealed together, it’s no surprise that LDS Family Services is the largest private adoption agency in the world, with 56 agencies in the United States and nine more in Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Birth mothers seeking help from LDS Family Services can find free and confidential services such as individual counseling and group meetings; temporary housing for birth mothers who wish to relocate during their pregnancy; help in identifying educational needs and resources; information about marriage, adoption, and parenting; and medical and legal support.
LDS Family Services has provided members of the Church with adoption services and individual counseling since 1973, though its roots reach as far back as 1919 when the Relief Society Social Service Department was formed. Today, the organization focuses on four key activities: providing consultation and support for ecclesiastical leaders, counseling birth parents, placing children with temple-worthy adoptive parents, and counseling individuals with problems such as marital conflict, parent-child conflict, addiction, abuse, depression, anxiety, and same-sex attraction.
Counseling for birth parents is free, as is medical and legal support and adoption planning. There are fees for adoptive parents and individuals seeking socioemotional counseling. For information call 1-800-537-2229, or visit www.itsaboutlove.org.