Lifetime Adoptions: A short mediation in two parts on “surrender” and ‘trust”

Now comes Lifetime Adoptions.

I don’t know much about Lifetime Adoptions, other than it bills itself as an “American Christian” agency  run by the eponymous Mardie Cardwell, an AdoptionLand unfavortie  for more years than I can remember.  This  gem of  a Lifetime blog, Can I Do Adoption if I’m Not Telling Family About Pregnancy?, written by the agency’s vice president, Heather Featherstone   was published on July 8, 2012, but  it just came down my Twitter feed Sunday morning.  Ms Featherstone’s qualifications as an  ‘adoption expert”  are not listed in her agency bio, though she holds an MBA–the ultimate adoption agency qualification– from evangelically inclined Amberton University, a mainly online but accredited outfit, originally an extension campus of Abilene Christian University in Texas  Where else?

This entire blog disturbed me so much. My objections to Lifetime and this particular blog are linked through the, in this case, evangelical Christian abstract notions of “surrender”  and” trust,” that push adoption in both  spiritual and practical terms.. As I finished this I saw that these two forces contain the same message, but I choose to write about them separately. Think of it as a draft for more detailed thought later.


Adoption: a spiritual transaction with God


Ms Featherstone’s love of adoption and obedience to God explains her self-qualification as “adoption expert:”

As a Christian, I see God’s hand at work in every adoption. There are times that I think I may know what’s best but when I can be still and let God lead, His plan is always greater than mine.

So, it is God who guides our adoptee destiny!   I don’t remember my birthmother telling me that–unless her grumpy parents were temporally incarnated as The Deity.

Featherstone’s bio takes a  deep dive into adoption language turning her own vocational “surrender” to God into adoption dialectic. By way of Christian adoption semantics she implies to us and more criticallyi it seems to unfortunately-pregnant clients, citing Psalm 16:8, to put themselves “into a place of surrender” to obtain God’s blessings”.

One of the great things I love talking about is the topic of surrender. When we can be in a place of surrender, we are ready to receive blessings, but we have to open our hands, which often are clinging tightly to our own expectations or desire to control everything.

The language of surrender is not accidental. Putting your kid up for adoption is a  transactional spiritual agreement between  Pregnant Working Stiff and Boss God.  As Joe Hill wrote, “You’ll have pie in the sky when you die”. Tossing Surrendering your own desires, expectation and baby eases the blessing process.

Let’s move on to secret pregnancy and adoption.

If you can’t trust your adoption agent, who can you trust?


Lifetime Adoption pretends to promote open adoption practices.  True,  Not Telling Your Family, talks about the advantages of so-called open adoption practices (We all know how that goes!) The title of the blog, of course, attracts those who feel otherwise. Retitled for clarification:   How  secret pregnancy can work for you with the help of your friendly Lifetime Adoption coordinator. 

Right out the barn door, Ms Featherstone plays with language (again)  throwing out to us the weird idea that  a “private adoption plan.” is some kind of secret adoption plan. Now there is such a thing as “private adoption.” It’s the  most common form of infant adoption where a parent(s) voluntary places an infant for adoption and choses adoptive parents through an agency, lawyer, or locates a  family on their own. Obviously, then , a “private adoption” unless one tries to bypass law and ethics and stage a fake illegal adoption*, is a “normal” adoption. If we accept the looney equation of  pregnancy secrets and “private adoption” as defined by Ms Featherstone, then what in the world is a “public adoption plan.”  A paid ad in a newspaper  announcing your intent to “surrender?” TikTik? If Ms Featherstone and Lifetime wish to be taken seriously, then they should learn correct terminology before yanking  the naïve and uninformed much less the public at large through their webpage,  into their spammer.

Many women facing an unplanned pregnancy feel alone and don’t want to share their news with friends, family, and even sometimes their baby’s father. They feel unsure if telling anybody about their pregnancy is a good idea, especially since they are choosing adoption. Fear of how those close to them will react drives them to keep their pregnancy secret…When you’re hiding a pregnancy, it’s completely possible to make a private adoption plan.

Trust your adoption agent to keep your secret:

Not telling your family about a pregnancy is a personal choice. However, one person you can confidentially tell about your pregnancy is a Lifetime adoption coordinator. She will walk you through the adoption process and what your options are.

Your adoption coordinator will talk with you about keeping your pregnancy a secret. It is almost always better to have someone in your life you can lean on. You may be afraid of your parents, friends or boyfriend’s reactions but they may surprise you.

Please enumerate  how Lifetime Adoption agents–excuse me Coordinators– help keep your secret: Unless Lifetime handles Safe Haven or Safe Haven Baby Box adoptions (in some states private  agencies, not the state, take on the task and a couple states even serve as a SH drop spot), just what do you do? Lock up your clients? Give them new identities?.  Send them to a compulsory pregnancy camp? Tell them to lie on paper and  in court?

It is also hard both emotionally and physically to keep your pregnancy to yourself. That baby will start to show itself, and you will be feeling the effects of all those hormones in your body. If you are determined to keep your pregnancy to yourself, your adoption coordinator will help you get the support and resources you need to maintain your privacy.

You can always leave town:

It’s also possible to move temporarily to complete an adoption. Know that there’s a way to keep both your pregnancy and your adoption private.

Holy David Keene Leavitt!

Does Lifetime help clients go on the lam?

Of course, hiding-out happens all the time. There a long road to go yet, but it’s becoming more difficult to get away with hiding out from fathers, because of  bad press, lawsuits and court rulings in disputed adoptions brought by the pesky dads, state  Putative Father Registries, legal sanctions against agencies and lawyers, and theoretical ethical and sometimes legal requirements that fathers be named and in some cases notified of a pending adoption.

Has Lifetime never heard of Beverly Hills adoption lawyer David Keene Leavitt who in 1992 ended up $7+ million in the hole and bankrupt ($2.8 million in damages and $5 million in punitive damages) after he advised and assisted  a  pregnant client from West Virginia to give birth in California, and place in Alberta, Canada? The biological father, John W Kessell, whose parental rights were permanently severed, successfully sued Leavitt, the mother, and others for conspiring to keep knowledge of the baby’s birth from him; a decision upheld by the West Virginia Supreme Court.(See   Kessell v Leavitt).Leavitt’s response when the  US Supreme Court denied cert on his appeal  was classy classist classic entitled adoption industry:

This was a runaway jury. They created a brand-new tor . And there are parts of the United States where, if you are from California or Beverly Hills, they sock you.

Translation: Those ignorant high school  drop-outs in fly-over West Virginia are just a bunch of hilljacks out to get smart rich people like me.

A couple years later Leavitt appeared on the Larry King Show to discuss the changing face of adoption with an in-studio group of well-known guests connected to adoption including Michael Reagan and prominent defense lawyer Leslie Abramson. Jamie Lee Curtis, citing ethics, refused to sit in the same room with him and linked in remote.

Finally lies by omission:

Some birth mothers choose this option because they feel it will give them a sense of closure, and they can move forward with their lives. But if you decide to keep your personal info hidden from the adoptive parents you choose for your baby, you won’t be able to contact your child in the future. Likewise, he or she won’t be able to contact you once they’re old. They won’t grow up knowing of you, and that you chose adoption out of love.

Somebody please tell Lifetime Adoption and Heather Featherstone that laws restricting adoptee access to original birth certificates and adoption records are being lifted state by state.They simply can’t go around telling people that their  secret is protected by archaic law in perpetuity.  Somebody please tell Lifetime Adoptions about inexpensive, easily available DNA testing through ancestry and 123& Me; Search Angels; and the internet, which make adoption secrecy impossible as either a state or private agency policy. Somebody, please, make this go away! 


 I wrote this quickly.  Just a few not-so-deep,  but I believe relevant thoughts. I am exasperated that the adoption industry continues to hide behind God-talk, tired old rhetoric, and lies.  How does  this pay-to-play baby-grabbing scheme still operate? Never mind! . We know the answer.


*Here’s an example.  Many years ago a good friend  of mine learned that his adult stepson, I’ll call Bob, was not actually his wife’s son from her first marriage as he and everyone else thought.  Seems her sister had an affair, hid the pregnancy, then went into the hospital, and with my friend’s wife permission, gave birth under her name. Upon release she handed Bob over and that was the end of it. My friend learned about this by accident  and was so outraged that he told Bob.. It caused a huge breach in his marriage, but he didn’t care.

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