Saturday, May 28, 2011

talk i wrote for church

Bishop came over the other day and asked if i’d like to talk in sacrament mtg. i was all “oh...”, then he said “about adoption" and i was like “ok!” some of you will already know my passion for this topic. adoption is the cause i am most anxiously engaged in. i’ve been speaking to all sorts of audiences about adoption for the last 13 yrs or so, however, never before in a sacrament mtg, in fact, i've never heard it addressed in sacrament meeting. i’m praying the material i share is appropriate, uplifting, and relevant to y’all.

in a Jan 08 ensign article entitled “why Adoption”, Fred Riley, then commissioner of LDS Family Services, said that adoption is a profound gospel principle. He points out that when the prophet Elijah restored the sealing keys, these keys encompassed adoption. And one of the ways in which Jesus Christ is our Father is through adoption, for we become His sons and His daughters when we are adopted into the family of Christ.

Additionally, Church members who are not direct descendants of Israel may be adopted into the house of Israel through their faith. From the time of Adam, adoption has been a priesthood ordinance,” says Brother Riley. “It’s a principle of the gospel that probably all of us will experience at some point as we’re literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.

D&C 84 34 says in regard to covenant keepers “They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham,”

in Abraham 2 10 the Lord promises Abraham, “And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;”

Mosiah 5 7 says “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

we are all adopted children, if we play our cards right. and it is in no way second rate, we are of the covenant Abrahamic family as though we were born into it, likewise, when a child is sealed to their parents, they are parent and child, eternally and inseparably. never ask an adoptive parent if they hope to have one of “their own”, they already do. biology does not have to exist for complete and genuine family love to. if we have eternal perspective, we remember that we are ALL family anyway and that we are charged to be our brothers keeper.

15 yrs ago i sent the flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone home with his eternal family. the biology we share is real and significant, it’s a connection that should not be denied, but it is nothing to the keys and stewardship his parents have over him. blood is thicker than water but the sealing covenant is thicker still. through the holy ghost and the tender mercy of the Lord, i was lead to his parents and it was revealed to me that he was theirs before he was mine. i did not share him with them, they shared him with me. i believe he came to them through me because nothing short of maternal love and responsibility would’ve shaken me awake. my Father is so kind and so concerned for me that he sent me a most precious little missionary. on his way home, from God’s arms to his parents', i was privileged to hold him in mine.
through adoption and through my son i learned love. the moment i my eyes laid on him for the first time, i knew that i would do anything for him, anything. i’d never felt that kind of love before. some think that in order to make such a choice, my maternal affections and connection must have been to some degree deficient but what they don’t understand is that it is BECAUSE i loved him that much that i was able to break my own heart, had i loved him an ounce less, i couldn’t’ve done it. whatever the choice, it is the best interest of the child that should be the paramount consideration, even if it means we hurt.

i know that there are surely those in the congregation who have been faced with this difficult and heart wrenching decision, or have loved ones who have, and have gone another way. please perceive no judgement. i wish only to present the doctrines of adoption and my own experience with it. i sincerely hope none will be offended.

we all know what the proc to the fam says “Children are entitled to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” but i find that it is little known among members what the church's stance on adoption is or that there even is one. in Oct of 04 the first Pres releases this statement “We express our support of unwed parents who place their children for adoption in stable homes with a mother and a father. We also express our support of the married mothers and fathers who adopt these children. Having a secure, nurturing, and consistent relationship with both a father and a mother is essential to a child’s well-being. When choosing adoption, unwed parents grant their children this most important blessing. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents in this life and throughout the eternities. We commend all those who strengthen children and families by promoting adoption.” and again in June of 2002 “When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, when the probability of a successful (and the statistics for success in such situations are bleak) marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, unwed parents should be counseled to place the child for adoption through LDS Family Services to ensure that the baby will be sealed to temple-worthy parents. Birth parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of a sense of obligation to care for one's own. Unwed parents are not able to provide the blessings of the sealing covenant. Unmarried parents should give prayerful consideration to the best interests of the child and the blessings that can come to an infant who is sealed to a mother and father.

i worked with a young lady from a culture within which placing for adoption is uncommon and often stigmatized. one of the case workers inquired of her mother how they came to their decision in spite of this opposition. the grandmother to be shared “our extended family are angry and don’t understand our choice. i love my family. i love my culture, but we follow the prophet”.

it is the inclination of people, particularly young people, to see ourselves as the exception, to study and statistics, even to a prophets council. when adoption was first suggested to me i was tremendously offended. i thought that was for “those people”, the extremely young, the extremely poor, the drug addicted. not the bishop’s daughter. i see now that adoption is not only for those who would be bad parents, but it is a matter of good, better, best. i would have been good. they were better. i would have been enough. he has the best.

some, as addressed in the first presidency's statement, will encourage a mother to parent so as to teach her responsibility, “you made your bed, you lie in it”. but a child is innocent and made no mistake. they should not pay the price of someone else’s. choosing adoption is CERTAINLY not evading consequence, and a child is NOT an object lesson.

my other great obstacle to the idea was fear of my own weakness. i thought “i can’t, it’s too hard”. i was shown that the Lord giveth NO commandment save he shall prepare a way. i didn’t have the strength OR the wisdom, but He did. HE sustained me and through him, i did the impossible, i defied my own heart and very instinct.

we can do hard things and the Lord compensates. Matthew 19 29 says And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

the Lord has always remembered my sacrifice, and he has comforted and taught and carried and preserved me. He has said “whosoever will loose his life for my sake shall find it".

The Lord asks us what we will consecrate to him, what we will put on the alter and sometimes he requires us to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

Abraham knew the meaning of “thy will be done” as he placed his long awaited and only son on the sacrificial alter. Moses’ mama understood “thy will be done” as she put that little baby in the basket on the river. Hannah prayed the Lord to remove her infertility and was finally blessed with a son and then gave her Samuel back to the Lord.

every yr in the US there are over a million unwed pregnancies, the largest percentage of these are aborted, the next largest group are single parented, a smaller number will marry, and less than 1% are placed for adoption.

now juxtapose that with this information 6% men 12% women of child bearing age have impaired or no ability to conceive, another study shows 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility. at my work, we have 3 drawers holding our adoptive applicant files, we are currently counseling about 6 women who are even considering adoption.

i’d like to look at adoption from another angle for a moment. the scriptures are full of Jesus charging us to be our brothers keeper, and specifically to care for the fatherless. this counsel was repeatedly stressed to us in the last conference. in Matthew 18:5 the Lord says “and whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”

Joseph and Emma adopted 2 children and after Joseph’s martyrdom, sweet Emma adopted the child of her 2nd husband’s mistress.

Joseph adopted Jesus, Jesus adopts us and he said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not”.

as i said, as far as domestic infant adoptions like mine, there are not enough children available even for the demand. however, there a millions of fatherless growing up in institutions internationally, and if that is outside of your financial possibilities, the state covers costs for foster-adoptions, for which there is also great need. we have so much, perhaps as a family some of you might ask the Lord if he would trust one of these precious spirits to your care. foster and international adoptions can be challenging but again, we should not fear hard things. He qualifies us and expands our resources, and abundantly compensates our losses and heartaches.

for women like myself who want their child to have the world but don’t have it to give, for those who pray for children but can’t conceive, and for children born into less than ideal situations, adoption is, as Isaiah says, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”.

Troy Dunn, a prominent member of the church calls it prayer trading. Adoptive hopefulls pray for family, birth parents pray for the best life for their child, and through eachother the Lord answers their prayers and calms their troubled hearts.

the beginning of both paths are troubled, a crisis pregnancy, infertility, but in hindsight we call ourselves blessed and we thank God for his wisdom and our tribulation.

perhaps some will be surprised at my bold confession, but please understand, neither bringing a child into the world nor placing a child for adoption are transgressions, on the contrary, it is the holiest thing i’ve ever been a part of . i have no shame attached to this story, it is about what i did right, not what i did wrong, that part is gone from me. The atonement of Jesus Christ is miraculous and comprehensive. my repentance culminated at the birth of my son. i was baffled like Enos when he said “Lord, how is it done? i couldn’t believe how literal and real it was to be "born again, a new creature". the burdens of having been raised in abuse as well as the burdens of my own poor choices were so lightened. shame and pain alleviated . i had new sight, new desires, new attitude, new character. what was lost was restored and then some. my worst day in the last 15 yrs is better than my best day in my first 18. Christ’s atonement reaches back in time, it retrieves what is so far gone we thought irretrievable, it gives us our vision back, it heals our sickest sicknesses, it binds even the heart broken a thousand times, it removes our handicaps! it teaches what we never knew and reminds of what we forgot. i was brand new, i WAS a little child. i felt the tenderness of my Father in a way uncommon to this earthly experience. i still know it, i can never deny it, He did all that and more for me. the Lord is offended when we think our sins are greater than his power to forgive and REDEEM. when we "don't understand his mercies". when the enemy of our soul whispers that we are too far gone, that the Lord doesn’t even want us anymore, that we have reached the bounds of the atonement. he assures us specifically and definitely. even in my unworthiness he called and invited me back. he still wanted me. its his work and his glory after all. he will leave the ninety and nine for us! and there is a feast waiting for our return! its so affordable, we just have to be as little children and believe him. and its ok if we don't believe completely right now as long as we can ask in whatever sincerity we can conjure " help thou my unbelief". i had forgotten how to be as a little child so i asked my good Father to teach me, and good Father's don't upbraid or withhold when asked for help or good things.
in placing a child with a couple who could not give eachother children i did for them what they could not do for themselves and in turn the Savior has done for me what i could not do for myself.
this is my testimony and my conversion, and it is so intermingled with my adoption story. i’m blessed to have it and i’m grateful to share it with y’all and i do so in His name......