17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Understanding Yearning for Zion

I only saw the last 15 minutes of a Dateline story on the recent FLDS news.

I am not well-read in the news of late, but I think I understand that a whole lot of kids have been taken away from their moms and dads and spread around to foster homes in the area.

There was one family in particular that really stood out to me. A mom, a dad, 6 kids. 1 wife. There home clean, organized and empty. Her son's 3rd birthday passed while he and his 5 other siblings were scattered about in foster care.

I am sure that there are many generous people out there trying to do their best to care for these children. I can't help but think about how potentially terrified these children are, not only to be away from their mothers and their homes, but also to be thrown into a culture that is so unfamiliar to them.

One call has lead to these 6 little kids to be taken away from their mom? There is no evidence that the Dad is sexually abusing them...no child and family services involved...just 6 little innocent kids taken from their parents. And that's just one family's story.

So, can anyone help me understand what is going on and whether or not it's ok? It just isn't jiving right now.


  • I have been very interested in this story since it broke several weeks ago. A 16 year old girl placed a call that she was pregnant by her 50+ year old husband that she was forced to marry. CPS went in several times to take stock, and found, shockingly, several more. And, as recently as Friday, 25 more girls came forward who were married and pregnant before the age of 16, some as young as 13. The boys are taught to be abusive physically and verbally to their mothers and other woman. Girls are a commodity. There are very few men in the YFZ community, because teenage boys are taken to the edge of the compound and told not to come back if they are found "unworthy" of marriage.

    Everyone is closely related in this community, therefore, incest is happening. The kids have not been forthcoming with who their parents are, and authorities wonder if most know who their fathers are.

    It is a sad, sad situation. But, I think in this case, authorities have made the right decision. The ultimate goal is to reunite families, but polygamy is a fellony, as is bigamy, and these people are breaking the law and abusing teenage girls. I hope it has a happy outcome, but I can't see that it will.

    Hope the info helps. If anyone sees anything I have said differently, please feel free to correct me. This was a lot of Larry King and Nancy Grace...
    posted by Blogger jlk at 4/28/2008 09:19:00 AM  

  • Another concern is the underage marriages, even though with a parent's consent it's legal in Texas, but the fact that it's not a 15 year old marrying an 18 year old, but a 15 year old marrying a 40 year old. Plus the incest and abuse.

    Then you have stories of women who have escaped and they talk about the abuse that is happening, including sexual abuse by fathers and what jlk said.
    posted by Blogger Lacey at 4/28/2008 09:37:00 AM  

  • It seems like they should just move all of the moms and their kids out of the compound, and keep the men away. That way the kids still have their siblings and their moms. It seems like most of the abuse in a majority of the situations is coming from the men, so I would think taking them out of the situation and moving the moms and kids into a supervised, safe environment would help alleviate a majority of the problems. I could totally be wrong, but that what makes sense to me.
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 4/28/2008 11:11:00 AM  

  • tamrobot, that makes sense to me too...although I'm sure it's a lot easier for the govnt officials to just stick the kids in foster care.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 4/28/2008 11:58:00 AM  

  • I thought the same thing at first, leave the kids with the moms. But, when you consider that the moms are not just stepping aside to allow this to happen, but agree with it (for whatever reason -- no exposure to the outside world, fear, belief). The mothers need to understand that they are victims as well and they need help.
    posted by Blogger jlk at 4/28/2008 12:17:00 PM  

  • I'm not SUPER informed on this particular situation, but I have the feeling that no one really is. It's not like this is cut and dry...I mean can 400+ children ALL be experiencing the exact same thing? I'm sure there is some abuse, I'm sure some are safe. I'm sure some women were forced to marry much older men, but maybe some weren't.

    Also, I've heard that the call from the "16 year old girl" was actually placed anonymously from a woman totally unrelated to the FLDS church as a means to get the authorities in there--once in there the authorities saw that there were some issues needing investigation. I believe this woman is going to be charged with false reporting or something.

    I also don't think it's as cut and dry as separating the men from the women and children. Many of these women are devout and will fight to get their husbands back (maybe they're being brainwashed, but who knows). I think the story you've posted about Kage is sad and terribly unjustified in this instance. But I'm also sure the authorities are doing the best they can--as a whole these people are breaking the law.

    I think it's a complex case and the funny thing is being Mormon I feel this dichotomy of being able to relate on a certain level, but at the same time I am all the more appalled because of "what I know" on another level....if you know what I mean.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 4/28/2008 12:29:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 4/28/2008 12:30:00 PM  

  • jlk and lacey, I totally get ALL that, although according to this dateline, the caller was actually an older woman who has nothing to do with FLDS and is known to make prank calls. Also, I don't understand why 6 children who are not pregnant teenagers were taken away from their parents....I get the specific cases of teen pregnancy, incest, etc., but why EVERY kid in that ranch?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/28/2008 12:48:00 PM  

  • I keep thinking that there must be a better solution, but the reality is that there is no good answer to this terribly complicated problem. Something needed to be done for sure.

    I don't trust half the info the media is dishing out. They love the salacious angle of the story - and so does the public.

    Tearing apart families is always tragic whether it is the "right" thing to do or not.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 4/28/2008 02:40:00 PM  

  • From what I've read and seen here's what concerns me. .

    Mothers, fathers and children were not forthcoming about whose children were whose, etc. Part of the reason they took the children was to work out DNA and try to figure it all out. They also were trying to figure out problems with incest, young women being forced to marry, being pregnant. I think taking the children away was a way for them to get some answers from the mothers and fathers.

    I know there is also a lot of concern for the children. . .one of the mothers said that they were up at 4am (and that they LIKED to try and be up earlier) to work all day in the garden, doing yard work and house work. One of the women helping in the shelter said she gave the children some paper and crayons and they just looked at her and had no idea what to do with it. There were also reports that the men were required to work at least 20 hours a day. When Warren Jeffs chose those that would live in this community, he took fathers away from families, mothers away, and even some older children away from their families to live in this society. He only wanted those that were the hardest working.

    In my heart of hearts, I feel for the mothers and the children, but I think the state got it right in protecting these children and I hope they get help for the mothers and fathers.
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 4/28/2008 03:02:00 PM  

  • It is a heartbreaking situation. I see the FLDS as a completely alien culture, and if it existed somewhere other than in the middle of the U.S. we would find it sociologically interesting and maybe a little sad. The men as well as the women have never known any other way to live, and I presume most of them think they are doing all the right things to make their kingdom in heaven. I doubt that there are very many evil people inside.

    The problem is, it's not happening on a distant continent, it's right here, and not only are the FLDS members not adhering to our cultural mores, they are breaking the law. At some point, authorities must feel that they have to "do something" not only to rescue the kids, but let's face it, to serve as an example of what happens if you break our laws.

    What I can't understand is why the community has been allowed to exist year after year, and suddenly this massive operation takes place. It doesn't make sense.

    I have love and compassion for all the innocents caught up in this. The problem is that even if they aren't knowingly doing wrong, in our culture you just don't marry adolescent girls to middle-aged men for the purpose of having numerous children. I do believe there are some in control who know what they are doing is wrong, otherwise why would they need to lock up the women and children so that a mother wishing to take her children and go has to escape in the night?

    It isn't a "normal" religious freedom case, because religious freedom doesn't include freedom to flaunt the law, as far as I know. I think it has been tested by people who want to claim their (fake) "church" calls for the use of drugs, for example.

    It is going to take a long time to sort this all out, and I predict that once the children are returned, the FLDS will go on much as before, just as it did after the Short Creek raids in the 1950s.

    Kage, I understand your confusion and your sorrow. I share it.
    posted by Blogger Kathi D at 4/28/2008 05:55:00 PM  

  • Ok. I am sitting here watching some footage and I just have to say: The HAIR!? Ok...now back to me wondering about those little kiddies. I hope they are ok....

    One more thing, some of these answers are pretty canned. And I can see in some of their eyes that these women are lying. Why aren't they interviewing any men btw?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/28/2008 07:27:00 PM  

  • Kage -- I have seen one interview where men have been involved. Same answers. When a question gets off their set speech, they get a little strange. My personal feeling as to why it's the women talking is kind of like in the BOM when they would send the women to soften the hearts of the Lamanites. I think they think if we see how much they are suffering, they will get their children back, not really understanding the magnitude of all of this.

    I know I've left too many comments on this post (sorry), but I want to say one more thing. I have been through several custody proceedings involving my step-daughter. It is very difficult to take a child away from its status quo. Social workers realize that the most stable situation for a child is a familiar setting. In order to remove a child, there must be concrete evidence, not just speculation. To remove over 400 children, well, they had to be really certain that this was in the best interest of every child involved. I have a feeling this will go on for months.
    posted by Blogger jlk at 4/28/2008 07:35:00 PM  

  • jlk - interesting last bit of info you gave. it's horrible to think there was enough evidence to allow the govt to remove over 400 children from their home. such a tragic situation. i don't think any amount of coverage from the media will help us understand the whole situation.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 4/28/2008 08:54:00 PM  

  • melissa, well, yes you're right, the media will not help this situation at all....but I guess I just feel like, where else can I get info? Anyway, jlk, yes custody battles are never good times for all involved, I just feel for those kids...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/29/2008 04:19:00 AM  

  • My feeling about the children being taken away is also sorrow for them.. but they also have a right to live in TRUE freedom - and although they don't know it or understand what's happening to them now, I'm thinking that years from now they will be thankful that they were rescued from a place/culture that was devoid of choice and also filled with abuse.

    If you read the book ESCAPE by Carolyn Jessop, (a former FLDS member who is being interviewed in the news a lot now) you realize how twisted thier socciety has become. It's really eye opening and quite frightening.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 4/29/2008 05:19:00 AM  

  • THIS is an article about Carolyn Jessop that tells about her escape.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 4/29/2008 05:27:00 AM  

  • in reference to their hair - they believe that the higher they get their hair, the more righteous they are. some of us from the 80's could have given them a run for their money.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 4/29/2008 07:25:00 AM  

  • rachel h, I have seen her interviewed a lot, I might pick up that book.

    anon, seriously? Are you for real (quoting my 6-year old there)?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/29/2008 09:00:00 AM  

  • several of the interviews with former FLDS members has mentioned the "higher the hair, the more righteous!" amazing, isn't it?
    posted by Blogger Liz&Meg at 4/29/2008 09:53:00 AM  

  • i am serious about their hair. that's why they all look the same. i saw a picture of a girl who couldn't have been more than 6 or 7, and she had the poof and braids.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 4/29/2008 11:03:00 AM  

  • jlk, I couldn't agree more with you. It's not just the young girls who are being abused, but the boys are being TAUGHT to abuse. Not just sexually, but physically and verbally. No matter what the age, eventually those boys and girls are going to get into the sickening sexual abuse cycle that the older teenagers are going through. SO sad and heartbreaking.

    I am positive that Texas would not have taken every child out of the ranch had they not had MAJOR evidence and reason to take the children into state custody out of a bad situation. Of course, there is speculation on it all, but I'm sure that the authorities know what they are doing for the best interest of the children. I think the judge made an excellent decision of having every child and parent DNA tested. In my opinion, this isn't just a "religion", it is a big facade that is covering up abuse and crimes of minors. It isn't their choice, it is their parents. There is probably evidence that we still don't even know yet, due to the legalities of sharing it to the media and the effect it would have on the case. I hope these children are given a chance for a normal, happy, healthy, abuse-free life with the state's involvement and intervention.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 4/29/2008 12:22:00 PM  

  • I have to say, these events have concerned me on many different levels. It's scary to think the power the government has to take your children away.

    On that point, check out this recent story: father (a professor at the Univ. of Michigan) orders "lemonade" for his son at a baseball game; vendor gives him "Mike's hard lemonade" which is an alcoholic beverage, but the father doesn't know that; security at the baseball game sees the child drinking the beverage; social services is called and takes the child into foster care. There was no abuse, family members were willing to take the child, everyone agreed that it was an innocent mistake, but social services wouldn't give the child back for TWO DAYS. Once the wheels were in motion, no one in the government bureaucracy thought they could do anything about it. It took two days to figure out how to do what everyone agreed was the right thing to do - release the child back to his family.


    Now, what's going on with the children in YFZ is clearly much worse than accidentally giving a child some alcohol. But is there any question that at least some, if not many, of those children would be better off with their families?

    This "raid" on the FLDS compound was not a well-thought-out plan, specifically organized to get to those children who were in real danger of abuse. This was a reactionary raid that resulted from a prank phone call. I'm not debating that something needed to be done to protect the children. But we have known about this type of abuse for a long time. Why the rush now? Why couldn't the state have taken a deep breath and considered a measured response to what was going on? It's a little disturbing.
    posted by Blogger Todd at 4/30/2008 09:58:00 AM  

  • yeah todd, my parents have been confused by the hard lemonade too.....interesting story...and I agree with your argument.....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/30/2008 12:33:00 PM  

  • So I have to comment however many weeks later, but I found this site to be heartbreaking!!! http://www.captivefldschildren.org/Videos.php?VID=1

    I really feel terrible for these mothers, really how are they any different from you and I? I understand there is abuse there, but guess what, there is abuse EVERYWHERE... these images and videos will really put it into perspective how over the top and out of control this whole thing has become!
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 5/08/2008 10:49:00 PM  

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