Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is Adoption Acceptable to the Lord?

Is Adoption Acceptable to the Lord?
By A. Garner Oleson

Unmarried parents considering the best future for their child and themselves, and couples struggling with the emptiness and sorrow of childlessness, often ask, "Is adoption really acceptable to the Lord?"
In a practical sense, placing a child born out of wedlock with adoptive parents resolves several problems, but is it really right? What, if anything do the scriptures and prophets teach about adoption? So much emphasis is placed on the family and responsibilities of parents to teach and provide for their own, that the question of "rightness" of placing that trust in someone else appears to be a troubling concern to many.
The birth parents and their families are reminded of the scripture, "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" (Genesis 2:23). "This is my child," they tell themselves. "Wouldn't I be shrinking my responsibility if I asked someone else to teach and rear and provide a home for this child? Shouldn't I feel guilty if I didn't at least try to do my best to parent the child, even if I am single, or even if I am young?" Didn't the Apostle Paul say, "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8)? "Am I appropriately 'providing for my own' if, as a single parent, I make an adoption plan for my child?"
Adopting parents often wonder, "Why are we unable to bear children? Doesn't the Lord want us to have children? Would we be circumventing His will if we adopt a child? Can we expect His blessings in rearing the adopted child the same as if the child were born to us? Is the adoption really okay?"
The answer to those concerns and questions can come from a variety of sources including the scriptures, latter-day prophets, and professional research on adoption.

Insight From The Scriptures -
Even with the limited scriptural accounts of the first 2,000 of the world's history, there are many references to the anguish of childlessness. Consider Sarai's childlessness and her efforts to resolve her grief by taking her maid, Hagar, to Abram to bear a child for her (See Genesis 16). And, Rachel, who cries in desperation to her husband, Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die" (Genesis 30:1), and Jacob's helpless response, "Am I God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?" (Genesis 30:2) There is Hannah's pleading with the Lord at the Temple and her weeping and refusal to eat due to her grief over her childlessness. In helplessness, her husband says, "Why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons? ...And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore." And she vowed unto the Lord, "give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life" (1 Samuel 1:5-28).
Regarding the rearing of children by those other than the children's parents, Father Abraham, himself, was born into a home where his needs could not best be served. As a young man he was taken "away from [his] kinsfolk, into a strange land which [he knew] not of" (Abraham 1:16).
The account of the discovery of the baby Moses in the bulrushes is well known. Moses, for his protection was placed in the care of others. "And the child grew, and she [his birth mother] brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water" (Exodus 2:10). Though he lived 3,500 years ago, he is to this day known and honored by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures worldwide, and is spoken of by the Lord by the name, Moses, which was the name given him by his mother by adoption.

Samuel, the prophet of Israel who anointed King David, was taken by his mother to be reared by another. The scriptures tell us "and the child was young ...and she said, as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:28). He grew to manhood not in the home of his parents, but in the home of Eli and his family. It was Eli, his "adoptive" father, who guided him as a child to listen when the Lord called his name in the night (1Samuel 1-3).
Even our Heavenly Father entrusted his Only Begotten Son to be reared by Joseph, who was not his biological father. And, while on the cross, Jesus established a new "family" relationship when he spoke to his mother, saying, "Woman, behold thy son!" and to John, "Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:25-27).
Timothy, the young companion of Paul, was the son of a Greek father and Jewish mother and was spoken of by the Apostle Paul as "my own son" (1 Timothy 1:2, 18). It is clear that care of family members by those other than family was practiced and approved in biblical times.
The term "adoption" in the scriptures generally refers to being adopted into the House of Israel through faith in Jesus Christ accompanied by baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost, or to being adopted sons and daughters of Christ, becoming his children by obedience to the gospel (see Moses 5:7-8). Of course, as the spirit children of God, we are all adopted into our mortal homes. It would appear that when it best served those concerned, one is practicing a form of godliness to allow a child to be adopted into a home that will further his or her progress and bless the lives of hose involved.

What Have Latter-day Prophets Told Us?
In the early days of the Church, twins, a boy and a girl, were born into the home of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Emma. Both died within hours following birth. Not far away, on the same day, the wife of John Murdock died while giving birth to twins, also a girl and a boy. When the Murdock twins were nine days old, Brother Murdock took them to Joseph and Emma and asked them to make them their own. Brother Murdock called it a gift "more valuable than all the tokens of friendship ...ever received in that land of hospitality" (cited in Vernon Lynn Tyler, "Adventures in Adoption," Improvement Era, June 1968, p. 115). What trust! What love! Joseph and Emma felt joy as they undertook to raise the children.

Adoption, as a legal process in the United States, was first instituted by statute in Massachusetts in 1851, serving as a model for other states. Every state had enacted some form of adoption laws by 1929. Today, it is a rare family that has not been touched by adoption in some way.
Adoption in the Church was formally recognized in 1921 when President Joseph F. Smith designated the Relief Society Social Services Department as the Church's official child-placing agency. In 1969, under priesthood correlation, the Unified Social Services was organized and designated to provide adoption services. Unified Social Services is now known as LDS Social Services (which is now LDS Family Services).

In homage to women denied the power to bear children, President David O. McKay said some adopt children "as their own, rear them with an ability characteristic of and inherent in true womanhood, and fill the lives of their darlings with a love that only the yearning soul of such a mother can know. Such are true mothers, indeed, though part of the experience of motherhood be denied them!" (Treasures of Life, pp.39-40) President Ezra Taft Benson, speaking of those that adopt stated, "to these wonderful couples we salute you for the sacrifice and love you have given those children you have chosen to be your own" (To Mothers in Zion, Fireside Address to Parents, 22 February, 1987).

In a letter to Church leaders dated February 1, 1994, the First Presidency counseled:
"A child needs both a mother and a father...When the unwed parents are unable or unwilling to marry, they should be encouraged to place the child for adoption...Placing the infant for adoption through LDS Social Services helps ensure that the baby will be reared in a faithful Latter-day Saint family and will receive the blessings of the sacred sealing covenant...Such a decision enables the unwed parents to do what is best of the child and enhance the prospect for the blessings of the sacred sealing covenant...Such a decision enables the unwed parents to do what is best for the child and enhance the prospect for the blessings of the gospel in the lives of all concerned."

The First Presidency has stated, "Adoption is a positive, natural, and loving way to build families. We commend those who participate in the adoption process, whereby children may reap the benefits of having a loving father and mother and a stable home life" (Church News, November 18, 1989).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Our new blog

Hi and thanks for checking out the new blog. We are so excited to use this blog as a great resource and tool for our FSA program. We will have great articles on adoption, ideas for finding your baby, creating your profiles, new placement announcements and of course our upcoming activities and workshops. You are welcome to leave comments and contact me with any questions, concerns and suggestions. The first couple of weeks will be filled with some trial and error - so thanks for your patience.

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful turn out to Pump It Up...and for the great treats. We had a wonderful turn out and really enjoyed seeing every one again. Like a gomer I forgot my camera - so if you took pictures that you would like to share on the blog, please email them to me. It would be fun to post those on here!


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