Bethany Christian Services: Mothers Speak Out

By Derrick Broze

In the second part of our investigation into Bethany Christian Services, we speak to several mothers who were directly impacted by what they say were deliberate efforts by BCS to coerce, manipulate, and outright lie to them regarding the conditions of relinquishing their parental rights.

Mothers who say they were lied to by the non-profit adoption firm Bethany Christian Services (BCS) are speaking out and warning anyone who will listen to be wary of promises made by BCS and other adoption agencies.

BCS offers adoption and foster services, and pregnancy counseling. They describe their mission as an effort to “demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting children, empowering youth, and strengthening families through quality social services.” However, many women who have interacted with them are now speaking out about their traumatic experiences.

The Last American Vagabond (TLAV) spoke directly with 4 different women about their experiences with BCS. While their stories differ in the specific details of how they came to know BCS, their outcomes are nearly identical. Every woman we spoke with told us BCS promised that if they chose to relinquish their parental rights, and allowed their child to be adopted, they would be able to participate in a so-called “open adoption” where they would receive pictures of their child, and letters updating them on their lives. Every one of them said these promises were not upheld and often completely ignored.

Every one of these women also knows other women and families who have been negatively impacted by BCS. They are part of a growing online community of social media pages, websites, and forums dedicated to raising awareness about the problems they’ve experienced with BCS, and the adoption industry in general.

In part one of this series we examined the history of BCS, particularly financial support received from the DeVos family, including former Secretary of Education under Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos. We also looked at BCS’ involvement in the US government’s separating of children under the Trump and Biden administrations. Finally, we reported on the history of lawsuits against BCS, and parents who have accused BCS employees of manipulating or lying to them in order to secure adoptions.

In this follow up report, we hear directly from the women who have been impacted by Bethany Christian Services.


Micki had a traumatic childhood involving physical and emotional abuse. She was emancipated by the age of 16, her birth mother died when she was 18.

In 1990, at 21-years old, she began dating an Indian man from her neighborhood. When she later found out she was pregnant, he pressured her to have an abortion. She would eventually find out that he had a wife and six or seven children back in India.

She went into hiding to avoid his pressure. He returned to India before eventually coming back to the United States. Micki says he stalked her and continued to pressure her to get an abortion.

By 1991, Micki had no family support and none from her ex-boyfriend so she sought support from a counselor. The counselor connected her to Bethany Christian Services in Chino, California. Micki met with the Director of BCS in Chino and was shown pictures of families who might be able to adopt her child. Micki requested a bi-racial couple that might mirror his father’s Indian complexion. The couple BCS introduced to Micki did not satisfy her request and she said she was not comfortable with them.

When she spoke up and expressed this to the BCS Director, Micki says she was ignored. At one point, she says she was told that Child Protective Services (CPS) might be called on her if she didn’t have a proper home set up for the children.

Micki said the couple was aggressively pursuing the adoption, and BCS was not supporting her. When she told BCS she was not ready to sign adoption papers, she says she was pressured into putting her child into foster care. She put him in foster care and continued looking for solutions to keep her child.

After a month of foster care, she signed the adoption papers, believing that the adoption would give her child a better life. After the birth and adoption, Micki sunk into a period of postpartum depression and heavy drinking.

“I couldn’t deal with losing my kid. I heard nothing from Bethany from that point on,” Micki told TLAV. She also says she wasn’t provided any of the counseling that BCS had promised prior to the adoption.

Micki says that her son’s father came back into the picture when the child was 3 months old, and wanted to reclaim his parental rights. The BCS Director told him he was going to need an attorney to get his child back. Without funds to fight a potentially costly legal battle, the child’s father was unable to reclaim parental rights. Micki also says BCS failed to attempt to locate him prior to the adoption to see if the child had any other family to care for him, and told her to act as if he didn’t exist.

“They prey on people who don’t have support. People who have dysfunctional families. They prey on women who are in very weak positions,” Micki says. “I was completely lied to. My whole adoption was fraudulent.”

Micki says she was told the adoptive parents would pay for any counseling she needed after the adoption but never did. She believed it was going to be an open adoption but never had access to her child.

“I was never invited to see my children, if I wanted to write to them I had to go through Bethany,” Micki stated. “Every night when I would go to sleep I didn’t know anything — what city they were in, who these people were. It was really bizarre.”

In the years since the adoption, Micki has communicated with her child and learned of several incidents of physical and emotional abuse from the adoptive father, including a fractured arm. She says her child has struggled with forming relationships, and continues to deal with the trauma of the adoption and separation. Micki also says the adoptive parents pulled her child out of school often, disrupting his education.

In 2019, Micki’s case would end up becoming the subject of a Complaint Investigation against Bethany Christian Services. A copy of the report states that on December 24, 2019, the Community Care Licensing (CCL) Regional Office (RO) in California’s Department of Social Services received a complaint accusing BCS of failing to “follow adoption agency procedures”.

The subsequent investigation involved confidential interviews with four members of BCS staff, and a review of two adoptive family files and two “relinquishing parent files”. One of these files relates to Micki’s situation. The Complaint Investigation Report states:

“The investigation revealed that Ref. #8, who was 17 years old at the time and REDACTED were relinquished in 1991, was being treated by a psychologist and had been prescribed medication, due to mental health issues because of the murder of #8’s mother.”

The citation also states that “#8” disclosed this information to BCS, but there was “no record that Bethany Christian Services (BCS) referred Ref. #8 to a licensed physician or clinical psychologist for an evaluation to determine Ref. #8’s ability to understand the content, nature and effect of signing the relinquishment.”

It was concluded that a preponderance of evidence had been met and the complaint against BCS was substantiated. The “Plan for Correction” ordered by the CCL RO included requiring “the relinquishing parent” to receive “three references for mental health providers”. BCS would then speak to this mental health provider.

“I was on social security disability. They were supposed to contact my psychiatrist. They never did,” Micki told TLAV. “They bypassed everything that they were supposed to do.”

Bethany was notified about the investigation in November 2020, and would appeal the decision two times, in January and March 2021. BCS attempted to argue that they were not required to report Micki’s “therapy” or “counseling” because it did not qualify as “psychiatric treatment”. Both appeals were denied.

“They determined because of what I was diagnosed with that I didn’t have the mental capacity at the time to consent to knowing what this meant for the rest of my life,” Micki says.

She believes BCS took advantage of her vulnerability and fragile emotional state after she suddenly lost her parents only four years prior to the pregnancy.

“This grief that I’ve had to live with has definitely affected me in every way. I do blame them 100% for this,” Micki said. “I think if I had never crossed paths with Bethany, I would not have experienced the physical and mental problems that I am facing now. It just never goes away.”

Charity J.

Charity grew up in a home influenced by the Institute of Basic Life Principals (IBLP), a controversial conservative denomination who has been referred to as a cult by some and the subject of a 2023 Amazon documentary titled Shiny Happy People. She was taught that her main goal in life should be to get married and have lots of children. She suffered emotional and psychological abuse during her childhood, and chose to leave her family for the Job Corps at age 19.

In 1997, she met a 27-year old man who was religious and whom she believed had values and goals which matched her own. The two struck up a relationship and married soon after. , but, Charity says six months into the relationship he became emotionally abusive and that he became physically abusive once he learned she was pregnant. Charity planned an escape and left with her son one month after he was born.

She was briefly homeless before getting enough support to get a job and a place to live. Despite having a restraining order and stalking order in place against her ex, he violated both orders by showing up at her workplaces and getting her fired. He would eventually break into her apartment before being arrested and charged with attempted murder and child endangerment.

Following the arrest, Charity was living in a shelter with her son. After a few days, CPS arrived with police officers and took her son into their custody. “It was terrifying. Now I know what my son went through with trauma, being separated from me,” Charity told TLAV.

After 6 months of her son staying with the organization D.A. Blodgett, Charity noticed her son was regressing and not hitting the usual milestones for infants. She was encouraged by Blodgett to consider adoption as an option for her son. D.A. Blodgett later connected her to BCS.

Charity says she would get in trouble with the BCS social workers for commenting on her son’s health when she visited him. On one visit, she noticed he had a sinus infection with blood coming out of his nose and asked to take him to the doctor. She was accused of being unstable.

She also says a social worker with BCS told her that women “like her” make “bad choices” so adoption was the best choice for her son.

While she wasn’t committed to surrendering her parental rights, she was willing to participate in “Kinship Care” where her son was able to stay with her mother in Illinois. However, her son’s father petitioned the family court for visitation rights and was able to get his son brought back from Illinois to Michigan with D.A. Blodgett.

Charity believes the relationship between D.A. Blodgett and organizations like BCS show they are taking advantage of struggling mothers and “funneling children” from parents to their organizations and adoptive parents.

She went back to Michigan to fight for her son while he was in another placement. She says someone from BCS encouraged her to consider adoption as an alternative to Kinship Care. The couple who were fostering her son were not interested in speaking with her, but agreed to do an open adoption if she surrendered her parental rights.

“I really believed they genuinely wanted to have some kind of openness. So I went in and surrendered,” Charity told TLAV. “It was one of the worst days of my life.”

She was told that as soon as she delivered her son he would be taken. After surrendering her parental rights, she fled to Ohio. She was now pregnant with her second son and was told by a social worker that Michigan CPS’ practices relating to her son’s adoption were criminal. At this point, Charity still believed she had done what was best for her son.

However, about a month after the adoption, Charity contacted BCS to get a mailing address for her son. She was told they could not give her the address, and they could not deliver letters or pictures for her. BCS told her the family asked for no mail at the time. Charity waited another month and received the same response.

“I felt like I was in a twilight zone. I still feel like I am in a twilight zone talking about it,” she says. “I did the thing they told me to do, and now I want to interact with my son. I wanted my son to be able to have those things (letters and pictures).”

In the years since the adoption she has had no contact with BCS or the adoptive parents of her son.

Three years ago, Charity began meeting other mothers on TikTok who had similar experiences dealing with Bethany Christian Services. She now runs her own TikTok account, Bitter Birth Mom Club, sharing her story and offering support for other mothers.

“Some of our stories are very different, but Bethany, at the end of the day, is the one that gained financially from what happened to all of us,” Charity says. “And they are never going to come to account for that.”

“Bethany is never going to be held accountable for making us strangers to our children and its so disgusting because they really think us, the birth parents, are not important to our children,” she shared.

Charity also believes BCS used her domestic violence situation to their advantage and continues to do so to other mothers who are in dangerous environments.

“I want people to understand that domestic violence is not something that should be held against a safe and stable parent in these situations,” Charity stated. “We deserve safety. We deserve better laws. Children shouldn’t be removed from families because of domestic violence unless its unsafe.”

She also wants potential adoptive parents to understand how these situations harm the children due to the maternal separation and trauma. She says adoptive parents who are interested in family preservation should also take into account the mental health of the child relating to the adoption process.

“Adoptive parents need to understand that they’re getting hustled just like we are.”


Jennifer was only 18 when she became pregnant while attending a conservative college in 1990. Uncertain of what to do, she confided in the Dean of her school. While pregnant students were typically expelled, Jennifer was told that if she participated in counseling she could continue being a student. She was offered several pamphlets from various organizations, one of which was Bethany Christian Services.

When Jennifer told her conservative Christian parents about her situation, she was met with anger and shame. She was told that if she did not give up the baby for adoption, she would not get support from her parents and would be totally cut off from their financial support.

Jennifer would eventually speak to a female counselor from BCS to learn about her options. At the time, open adoptions were brand new, and, ironically, Jennifer is the one who brought up the idea after learning of it. From there, the BCS counselor “steered” her towards the idea.

Looking back, Jennifer believes she was subject to “subtle programming” by the counselor who told her that she was incapable of raising the child on her own, also showing her pictures of potential adoptive parents.

By early 1991, Jennifer says the potential adoptive mother became very involved in the process. She said she continued to feel pressured, “overwhelmed, but also numb”.

Jennifer would end up having her pregnancy induced through drugs because her pregnancy had gone past the calculated due date. While she says she requested the adoptive parents not be present for the birth, she was ignored and the adoptive mother was in the operating room during the birth. As a result of the drugs, Jennifer was forced to undergo an emergency C-section.

Jennifer’s parents came to the hospital, saw her son, and apologized, but said they still could not offer any help. The father of Jennifer’s child, now her husband, was working with her to come up with some solution which would allow them to keep their child.

Three days after the birth, the BCS counselor told Jennifer it was time to hand over her son for adoption. Jennifer’s husband said he was “cornered” by the counselor and pressured to sign a termination of his parental rights. At this point, BCS facilitated the adoption of Jennifer’s son with the adoptive parents.

Jennifer said she now knows she should have been asked to sign paperwork before handing her son over to BCS. However, two days after BCS took her son, the counselor came to Jennifer’s house to get her to sign. She says she was still under the influence of painkillers from the C-section. Jennifer says that when she expressed doubt about the adoption, the counselor used the threat of calling Child Protective Services on her to “paint me in a corner”.

“I was told that if I tried to get him back, ‘you’re going to have to get a lawyer, he’s going to go into foster care, etc.’”, Jennifer stated to TLAV. She was told that since her boyfriend had signed the paperwork, she was required to sign. “I wasn’t given proper information, told about the right to change my mind, or what exactly the process was.”

After the adoption took place, BCS was supposed to facilitate the letters between the adoptive parents and the “birth parents”. Jennifer said she received 1 letter after a month thanking her for “the gift”. She wrote back to the adoptive parents to let them know she was not handling the adoption well, and that she believed her baby had essentially been stolen from her.

The adoptive parents contacted the BCS counselor to tell her of Jennifer’s response. The counselor told Jennifer she could not write such things to the couple. She recalls being told something along the lines of “you can’t write your true feelings”.

After the 6-month mark passed, she only heard from the adoptive parents once or twice a year with a letter and photos. She kept in touch with the BCS counselor for a time, but had few interactions with the couple. They came to her graduation, her wedding, and to meet her second child when she was born. The couple would eventually sever all communication when Jennifer’s son was only 13-years-old.

Jennifer says her son contacted her by email when he was 16. They communicated regularly, in what she describes as an “amazing” experience that is also occasionally a “roller coaster” of emotions. They now see each other regularly and live only minutes apart.

These days, Jennifer says she wants more people to understand the truth of adoptions, and how it impacts the birth mothers. She says birth mothers live their lives with grief, second guessing every decision they make, and living in fear of having children taken away from them.

“We’re told, specifically, move on with our lives and pretend it’s not happening. I am tired of that,” Jennifer said. “I am tired of not having voice. There are so many of us. And we’re coming out of the woodwork.”

In part 3 of this series we will look at the international adoption industry and the organizations which are working to give birth parents a voice.

Source: The Last American Vagabond

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Derrick Broze, a staff writer for The Last American Vagabond, is a journalist, author, public speaker, and activist. He is the co-host of Free Thinker Radio on 90.1 Houston, as well as the founder of The Conscious Resistance Network & The Houston Free Thinkers.

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