• 3946 Summer Ridge Rd Morgan, UT 84050
  • info@saferdownstream.org

Our Mission

    Through education opportunities and counseling support, we enable a brighter future for birth parents who have lovingly chosen adoption, which is perhaps the greatest sacrifice a parent can make for their child.

If adoption has touched your life, you may see yourself in the following story.

    Pharaoh, the ruler of ancient Egypt, was concerned about the growing numbers of the People of Israel. He feared they would rise up in rebellion against his rule, so he placed taskmasters over them and heavy burdens upon them to keep them subdued. As they continued to multiply even under these harsh circumstances, Pharaoh’s concerns grew. He gave an order that all male infants born into Hebrew families should be killed.

    During this time of fear and violence, a son was born to a Hebrew woman. Knowing her son was to be killed if he were discovered, she hid him three months. This loving mother did all she could to care for her child, to provide for his needs, and to protect him from Pharaoh’s decree. 

    According to the account given in Exodus 2 (KJV), “And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes… and put the child therein; and she laid it (among the reeds) by the river’s brink,” and sent her daughter to watch over the child. As the daughter of Pharaoh came to wash herself in the river, she discovered the child. When the infant cried out, the daughter of Pharaoh’s heart was touched. The account in Exodus continues: “…And he became her son. And she called his name Moses.”

    The story of Moses honors all the roles found in adoption: 

  • The mother (the modern birth family), who loved her child enough to give him more than she could give him on her own, sent her child down the river to safety. 
  • Pharaoh’s daughter (the adoptive family), being moved with compassion, took the child as her own and raised him in her household with all the privileges and protections that accompanied that upbringing. 
  • The child’s sister (the adoption worker, advocate, or support staff) watched carefully and lovingly from the riverbank to ensure he would pass safely between families. 

    Most importantly, the infant Moses (the adopted child), loved by all involved, is the center of the story. He lived and grew to be a great man among his people.

    The Fred M. Riley Foundation’s motto, “Safer Downstream,” comes from this touching account. As Moses was safer downstream, many children and birth mothers today are also safer downstream from their adoption experience.

Why was the foundation created?

    Some years ago, founder of the Fred M. Riley Scholarship Foundation, Steve Sunday, had an experience that left a deep and lasting impression on his heart. He remembers meeting with a 26 year-old pregnant mother who was considering placing her unborn child with an adoptive family. She had only an eighth grade education and was struggling to provide for a young child of her own already. Her future looked bleak as she faced a continuing cycle of working low-income jobs and battling poverty. 

    Steve thought there must be more that could be done for birth mothers like her. “I knew I needed to do something to help,” he said of the experience. Education seemed to be a necessary factor in changing her trajectory. 

    As this situation lingered in his mind, he began to research programs that would fund the education of birth mothers like the one he met. He discovered with dismay that he could only find a handful of programs in the United States like the one he envisioned this mother would need. 

    Steve set to work researching how these programs functioned and determined that with his years in adoption work and the relationships he had formed with community partners, he could create a scholarship fund to assist these birth mothers who were slipping through the cracks. Education could be the catalyst for change.

    This is how the Fred M. Riley Scholarship Foundation was born.

A Friendship of Common Purpose

    Steve and Fred began working together in 1994 when Steve joined the LDS Family Services Headquarters Team, and the two were dear friends for more than two decades. The mission of their work was to not only provide caring, ethical support through the adoption process, but to also provide lifelong support. Working together in the field of adoption gave Steve the opportunity to really get to know Fred and to share their mutual drive for improving the lives of others. 

    As a man of faith, Fred would often pray over his work. He expressed an unshakable impression that there were people, specifically birth mothers, crying out for his help. Fred could not rest, knowing there was relief he could administer to those who needed him. 

    When Steve began the process of starting a scholarship fund, it was a natural choice to name it after his beloved friend, who had died some years previously. Steve wholeheartedly believes that this is a cause to which Fred would be proud to lend his name.

Biography of Fred M. Riley


A thoughtful and steady leader, Fred dedicated his life to promoting adoption and the prevention of teen pregnancy. Fred was a recipient of the Adoption Hall of Fame award from the National Council for Adoption. Other recipients of this award have included first ladies Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton. Fred received the Friend of Adoption award from the organization Families Supporting Adoption.​

About Fred M. Riley from the People Who Knew Him Best

“I knew Fred as the leader of our organization. Fred was tenacious about adoption. He cared deeply about adoption. He often shared stories about the miraculous experiences he had while working in adoption. Adoption was personal for him.” Amy Curtis, LCSW
“For several years, I worked under Fred Riley’s leadership… I never met a more endeared, focused, and driven individual when it came to doing what was right on behalf of God’s children. In reference to adoption and serving unwed expectant parents, adoptive couples, and adoptees, he spared no amount of energy championing causes and leveraging resources… Fred had the talent of being both an ardent, macro-level businessman as well as a friend, confidant, counselor, and mentor to the one. I always felt better leaving Fred’s office. He taught and reinforced the traits and habits of patience, persistence, quietness, reflectiveness, observance, influence, and confidence–all of which traits he possessed in great measure. I know of no finer human being representing a foundation whose mission is focused on “helping those touched by adoption” than Fred M. Riley.” Matt Barkdull, LMFT
“Fred Riley served on the Board of Directors for the National Council For Adoption…during his tenure as Commissioner at LDS Family Services. Commissioner Riley…loved adoption and passionately supported NCFA’s advocacy on behalf of children and families. Fred was a strong advocate for ethical and comprehensive adoption services. He believed in supporting and counseling expectant parents to allow them the right to make a fully informed decision about relinquish(ment)… He was an advocate for the adopting family, working to ensure they were well-prepared to become new parents and that they were supported after the adoption to ensure that their new family thrived. Fred always worked in the best interest of children, wanting to ensure that children in need of a family received a loving, nurturing, and permanent family through adoption… He was a kind, compassionate, adoption professional and wonderful friend to NCFA. I think of him often and miss being able to tap into his wealth of knowledge and practical wisdom gained from years of leadership in his field.” Chuck Johnson, President & CEO of the National Council For Adoption

“It is still hard to imagine that heaven may have been more in need of Fred Riley than the world with all the lives he impacted for good, both personally and professionally. Fred was the ultimate humanitarian. His legacy lives on through the joys of adoption and all it entails in supporting adoptive couples and birth parents. It is fitting that our beloved Adoption Hall of Farner is acknowledged by adoption supporters everywhere who give generously to the Fred M. Riley Scholarship Fund.”
Liz Hale Abo Ph.D
“Fred Riley had a deep passion for the welfare of children. It was paramount to him that birth parents and adoptive parents have the opportunity to make informed choices, be given counseling and support in the decision making process and then be given further support once decisions were made so all could thrive on their lives paths. He was unique in that he was a man of vision, but also a man of action. He also fought fearlessly for legislations that protected the rights of children, birth parents, adoptive parents and the institution of the family.”
Lori Throckmorton
“I had the pleasure of knowing Fred for 30 plus years. He was clearly in my top 10 of most influential people in my life. He was a believer in truth and knowledge. He deeply loved and understood the value adoption has in our world. He believed and practiced the value that every child matters and deserves a loving family.”
Ken Lowe

Fred M. Riley Board Member Testimonials

“I worked with Fred Riley from a distance for 15 years. I worked very closely with him for 15 years. By reputation and performance, he was a man with dreams, passion and a desire to accomplish. His works matched his desires. He was a leader in the field of adoptions, encouraging of services to unwed mothers, foster care and mental health. Though Fred has now passed on it is fitting that his name be used in connection with efforts that will continue to assist those in need of assistance.”  

Brent Scharman, Ph.D.


“Fred has been a true friend and deeply admired colleague for over 35 years! My life and career have benefited from Fred’s honest feedback and the open critical communication and debate we shared. Fred often stated that his greatest strength was his ability to surround himself with smarter and more capable individuals than himself. Those fortunate enough to serve with Fred at headquarters would readily acknowledge that we were daily tottered by an incredibly financially savvy, doctrinally driven and in my opinion, most completely competent leader to ever direct the Worldwide Operations of LDS Family Services.”   

Dennis Ashton 


“I came to know Fred Riley when he was the head of a large social services and adoption agency for whom I was doing legal work.  We faced some significant issues, especially with litigation arising from some circumstances beyond the control of either of us.  I enjoyed working with Fred, and with support from various team members, worked through these issues. Fred was keenly aware of his responsibilities to the agency.  He recognized that decisions he made would impact the agency and its future and acted accordingly.  What impressed me more, however, was his dedication to the agency’s clients.  Although he was not providing direct services to them at this time, he cared deeply about their well-being.  To him, the agency could not be successful if its clients were not benefited and receive the services that they needed.  It was a learning experience for me to observe his care and concern for individuals.  It is something I’ve tried to duplicate in my own professional efforts.” 

David Hardy, Attorney


I worked closely with Fred for several years in a finance capacity.  I watched him lead as the Savior would lead and touched the lives of all he interacted with.  He was able to lift and inspire each of us on his management team and help us all be the best we could be.  He had a passion for adoption and helping those with social, emotional needs. He was always looking for ways to reach more people.  I am a better person for my time I spent with Fred.  

Stephen Thompson



Steven A. Sunday, Chair

Steve Sunday has worked in the field of adoption for more than 35 years as a caseworker, supervisor and administrator. He is the founder and executive director of Forever Bound Adoption and is the founder of and adviser to United For Adoption, the national adoption advocacy support organization. After graduating with his MSW in 1981 from Arizona State University, he has worked professionally in Arizona, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. Steve was the project lead on the award winning Adoption, It’s About Love television and radio commercials in partnership with Bonneville Communications. He is a passionate advocate for the needs of children world-wide. In 2009 he was appointed to the board of directors for the National Council for Adoption. In addition, Steve served on the board of directors for the Foster Care Foundation for the State of Utah between 2009 – 2017. Steve was named the adoption “Professional of the Year” for 2013 by the Utah Adoption Council. Reflecting on his life’s work, Steve commented that it has been one of the choicest blessings in his life to be associated with the great work of caring for children and building families. Steve and his wife Karen have seven children and many grandchildren.

Stephen Thompson, Treasurer

Coming soon...

K. Paul MacArthur

Paul is the founding partner of MacArthur, Heder & Metler, PLLC. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in business finance from Brigham Young University, a juris doctorate from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, and a master of science in taxation degree (LL.M.), with honors, from the Washington School of Law. His practice is focused on business formation, maintenance, contracts (and other corporate issues), taxation, estate planning, non-profit organizations, and adoption. Paul is co-founder of A Child’s Hope Foundation, a non-profit public charity dedicated to bridging the gap between orphaned children in third-world countries and adoptive families. He has also served and is serving as an officer and board member for many other non-profit entities. Additionally, he has been a presenter at various estate plan and business seminars and was recently voted one of the top legal service providers in Utah County. He and his wife, Monica, are the parents of six children. Paul loves to spend time with each of them, watch BYU sports, read, play in his garden, and spend time outdoors.

Sharyn Riley

Sharyn Riley is the wife of Fred M. Riley, who passed away in 2016. Sharyn has always been passionate about the causes of women and children, so supported Fred wholeheartedly in ventures involving adoption, foster care and preventing child abuse. Together, Fred and Sharyn are the parents of five and the grandparents of fifteen, who Sharyn loves to call her heathens. Sharyn has a background in secretarial work in elementary schools and doctors’ offices, teaching computer science in the schools, also, and is now attempting to follow her dream of watercolor painting. She wants to stay up to date with mothers and children in need, thus her involvement in the Fred M. Riley Foundation.

S. Brent Scharman

Brent Scharman received bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Utah and a Ph.D. from Brigham Young University. He is a licensed psychologist. Brent was employed by LDS Family Services for 36 years where he provided clinical services but also worked in a variety of administrative positions including assistant commissioner. Brent is a former president of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists and the Utah Psychological Association. In retirement, Brent has provided volunteer services to the Missionary Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to the Maliheh Free Clinic. Brent is married to the former Janet Samuelson who recently retired as Vice President of Student Life at Brigham Young University. Brent and Jan are the parents/stepparents of 10 children and 37 grandchildren.

David Ferris

David is relatively new to the world of adoption. He and his wife adopted their beautiful daughter in 2016. David loves being part of an open adoption and has seen first hand some of the challenges that birth parents can face. He graduated with a BS in Global Studies from BYU in 2011. He was in the Army Reserves for 12 years, including deployments to Afghanistan and the Philippines. David co-owns Honors Graduation, an online graduation supply store and Customization House, a local screen printing and embroidery business. He enjoys playing with his 4 kids, and hiking and going to plays with the love of his life, Sadie. He also enjoys planning vacations almost as much as going on them, especially Disney trips.


Amy curtis, Chair

Amy received a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Brigham Young University. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified employee assistance professional. She worked the first twelve years of her career in Boise, Idaho as a clinical therapist and certified adoption provider. She has also spent six years working as a program manager for an adoption agency and a clinical supervisor. Amy is an adoptive mother with a commitment to teaching members of the adoption triad the importance of healthy and strong connections.

Lori Throckmorton

Lori Throckmorton, LCSW, is the Regional Manager of LDS Family Services in American Fork, Utah. She oversees the counseling and administrative operations of four offices and consults with adoptive parents. She also provides clinical services including services to single expectant parents. Ms. Throckmorton has worked with LDS Family Services for 25 years, where she has served as a social work practitioner, program specialist, agency director, adoption director, and field group manager.

Susan Egbert

Susan serves as clinical faculty and Regional Campus Master of Social Work Program Coordinator at Utah State University. She is passionate about improving the welfare of children, strengthening families, and promoting human healing through direct social work practice, research, and systems change. Her special interests include adoption, foster care, and the prevention of child abuse. She was adopted as an infant and her husband Jim are the parents of six children, including twins who joined their family via foster care adoption.

David Hardy

David is an attorney with expertise in adoption and litigation related to adoption. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of law. He has practiced law for private law firms and as general counsel for a corporation, and he has created, licensed, and run an adoption agency. He has served on the Board of Directors of Utah Foster Care, as President of the Utah Adoption Council, and as a fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. He has represented birth parents, adoptive parents, agencies and professionals involved in adoption. He has lectured to various groups regarding adoption and child welfare and is well-versed on the multiplicity of issues related to adoption and child welfare.


Ken Lowe, Chair

Ken graduated from Weber State College and the University of Utah. He has a Master’s degree in Social Work and is licensed as a LCSW. He has worked with adoption for over 30 years and has helped literally hundreds of adoptive couples and birth mothers. Adoption is one of his great passions in life. His favorite (and only) sister was adopted, which piqued his interest in adoption early in his life. Ken loves the idea of placing children in loving homes when birth parents are not able to raise their child. Ken has four children and has been married to Gail Bennion Lowe for the past 37 years. He looks forward to helping you with your needs in a loving and compassionate manner.

Dennis Ashton

Dennis Ashton has been passionately involved with the adoption community for 38 years. He retired from LDSFS in 2014 after a long and distinguished career where he served as a licensed psychotherapist, agency director, program specialist, and assistant commissioner. He and his wife Joyce, are the parents of 6 children and 10 grandchildren who they love spending time with. He and his wife are the authors of 5 books: Loss and Grief Recovery, Jesus Wept, 3 Volumes of “But If Not”, now in compilation. We’re lucky to have Dennis serving on the Board of Directors of Forever Bound Adoption. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with him.

Mary Anne Linford

Mary Anne has over 30 years of experience working in the field of adoption. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Work at Brigham Young University, and her master's degree from Argosy University in Marriage and Family Therapy. Over the years she has loved working with birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive couples in decision making and grief/loss counseling. She currently facilitates a weekly birth parent support group at LDS Family Services that is open to all birth parents. She has trained in individual, family, and group counseling. She currently works as a therapist for LDS Family Services and at White Peaks Therapy. Mary Anne is passionate about and devoted to the clients she serves and feels honored to work with the adoption community. She believes in a strength based approach and focuses on the unique strengths and talents each individual possesses. Mary Anne is married to Paul Linford, and is the proud mother of five children and ten grandchildren.

Lorna Zimmerman

Lorna has always had a love for adoption and has worked in the field for over 30 years. Most of her career she has worked with birth parents. She graduated from Utah State University and taught junior high for eight years before joining Family Services where she has worked for 31 years. She is currently serving as the adoption and single expectant parent specialist for all of Family Services. She received the Professional Excellence Award from Utah Adoption council in 2015. She has one daughter and enjoys spending time with family.