The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it will no longer operate a full-service adoption agency. LDS Family Services will instead shift resources toward counseling for unmarried, expectant parents.
LDS Family Services Adoption Manager David McConkie says the Church will still be working to promote adoption.
“We’ll be doing no more placements of children for adoption, but if you define adoption as helping families connect with children and ultimately have an adopted child, we’ll be doing that more than we’ve ever done it in the past,” McConkie says.
He says the traditional adoption agency model was no longer working for LDS Family Services; fewer women are putting their children up for adoption, likely because the stigma of being an unwed mother has diminished. Family Services has been placing 200 to 300 children per year, down from a peak of 665 in 2002.
“Twenty years ago when I started working in some of these areas or thirty years ago, maybe 15 percent of single expectant parents would place a baby for adoption. Today, it’s less than 1 percent,” McConkie says. So we could compete for that 1 percent, or do something that we can do that’s unique.”
McConkie says the church will direct couples seeking to adopt to existing agencies and focus its resources instead on providing professional counseling free of charge for unmarried, expectant parents. He says the change is not related to recent legal challenges from same-sex couples seeking adoptions or birth fathers trying to reclaim children.