Agonizing

February 17, 2009 | 17 comments
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I was intrigued by Adam’s link: “Legitimacy is the most precious resource of the state and should not be frittered away like this.”

I’m also a parent of three and it isn’t so hard for me to imagine my own “B” in a similar scrape. I can’t even wrap my mind around what it would be like for Texas to give my kids to strangers.

At the same time . . . my husband and I have been considering adopting. Another thing I can’t wrap my mind around is an adoption that would never be really and truly finalized. Would you, could you, have adoptive children sealed to you in a situation like that?

I’ve got no good answers here. Anyone?

17 Responses to Agonizing

  1. Bridget Jack Meyers on February 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Just my outsider never-Mo’ opinion here, but I think performing religious rituals on children who might not be permanently yours would be a bad idea.

  2. LRC on February 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Children can’t be sealed to adoptive parents until the adoption decree is final. You need the paperwork to even make a sealing appointment. If children were BIC, they cannot be sealed to their adoptive parents (they don’t need that sealing). Foster children may only be sealed to foster parents if there’s first presidency approval.

  3. Kaimi on February 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    These are tough cases.

    I had a neighbor who was a foster parent. She was the most patient, loving mom imaginable. Knowing the numbers on which kids are the hardest to place, she asked to foster a black baby (the backlog of black kids is always high), and said she would be happy to have a crack baby.

    Given the demographics of hard-to-place kids, this was easy to grant. She ended up with a tiny little black girl who no one wanted, severely underweight, was just a few months old, who pretty much just screamed constantly, all day. Real mother was a teenage junkie, and no one in biological family wanted a screaming infant. I think the baby was a preemie too.

    My neighbor took care of her foster baby. She held her, and rocked her, and fed her (she was incredibly hard to feed). She woke up every hour or two with her screaming baby. She sang to her. And over the course of a year, and then more, the baby slowly started to get better.

    And then things started speeding up. The baby was clearly still a big step behind other babies her age. But now, at 18 months, at 2 years, she was looking and acting like a normal 9 or 12 month or 15 month old. She wasn’t yelling all the time. She was looking around, and cooing, and googooing, and learning to walk. She had bright eyes. She was smiling.

    My neighbor had put in for adoption, earlier. A month before the adoption was to be final, the baby’s grandmother contested the claim. She hadn’t wanted any part of the screaming infant, but she was happy to step in and put a claim on the cute, smiling two-year-old.

    The agency ruled in favor of the grandmother. (Better that kids remain with family; also, I believe the racial difference with my white neighbor played a role.) My neighbor appealed it to a court, and lost.

    Last I heard, she had another little baby girl that she was fostering — another tiny, premature, black girl.

  4. Ardis Parshall on February 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I think Julie is referring to sealings being done *after* the adoption was supposedly final, as it was in the case in the link. (In that case, medical evidence cleared the birth parents of wrongdoing *after* an adoption was final, and the parents are trying to regain custody because the children never should have been removed in the first place.)

    I know there have been a lot of supposedly final adoptions that were later overturned, Julie, with agony enough to all parties. There may always be that tiny element of uncertainty no matter how legal something is. But vastly more final decrees are just that — final. Not to seal children that you have made yours, that you intend to be yours, would, IMO, be denying the importance of eternal sealing bonds in general. It would be little different from marrying at the courthouse rather than in the temple because despite all your best intentions on the date of your marriage, there is still that possibility that the marriage might not work out.

    It’s a matter of faith.

  5. Hans on February 17, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Having been sealed to my adopted son, I can say that it would be difficult to think of not being sealed to him despite the chance that the adoption is never finalized. Admittedly, more scary for us was the five day waiting period before his birthmother could sign away her rights.

  6. Amy on February 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    This story has really upset me. I guess maybe I’m just naive, but I would have never believed that such a wrong would not be righted in a decent country in this day and age.

    It really does make you think deeply about the issue of adoption.

  7. Chad too on February 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Please, folks, don’t let an outlier story like this one dissuade you from the blessings adoption can bring to a child and your family. For every example like this one there are hundreds (if not thousands) of successful stories where a child-in-need is placed with a forever family.

    Certainly consider the risks, but do it in context and with perspective.

  8. Amira on February 17, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I agree with Chad too that this story is really atypical and that it shouldn’t stop anyone from adopting. But it should help stop families from adopting naively. And yes, I would unquestionably have an adopted child sealed to me, after doing all I could to be sure the circumstances of the adoption were legitimate.

    Adoption is so important. Children need to get out of orphanages, out of foster care, out of abusive situations. Children need reliable people who love them, and adoption is often the best way to provide that. Stories like this should warn, but not scare anyone away.

  9. Liz on February 17, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    “Last I heard, she had another little baby girl that she was fostering — another tiny, premature, black girl.”

    Kaimi,
    My heart and admiration goes out to your neighbor who knows how to truly love – no matter. We adopted our oldest and in the early years, I would have nightmares that I would go to jail or be separated from him in some way. We had him sealed to us but he has since chosen to have his name removed from the records of the Church. Have I and his birth mother (my relative) both lost him forever?

  10. bbell on February 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Most adoptions in my anecdotal exp end up working out really well. There is a long history in the church of adopting children. It dates back to Joseph Smith and BY. If you are moved by the spirit to adopt I would encourage you to do so. God wants his sons and daughters in good homes.

    Fostering is a different matter entirely as far as outcomes are concerned in my anecdotal exp that involves temporary care and fostered children are often returned to less than ideal parents

  11. Sterling on February 17, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Shouldn’t the priority be on sealing the kids to the family of Adam rather than worrying which parents they are attached to? Won’t we all be brothers and sisters after the resurrection anyway?

  12. m&m on February 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I agree with Ardis. As agonizing as cases like this are, to act on ‘good faith’ on appropriate legal proceedings is ultimately about faith.

    I have seen a few cases where adoptions have been contested, but they are still ultimately the exceptions, and in my mind all one can do at some point is just try to follow legal requirements as closely as possible and move forward.

  13. mmiles on February 17, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Ditto to what Sterling said. The point is to have the child sealed, not have the child somehow be yours in the eternities in a way we don’t truly understand.

    I know multiple cases of American families adopting youth (from Russia or America) and the child, after being baptized and learning of eternal families choosing not to be sealed to their adopted parents–hoping to someday be sealed to their bio- parents. It has caused extreme upset with the adoptive parents–unfairly placing burdens onto the children and disregarding of the real needs and desires of their children.

  14. ESO on February 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I wouldn’t worry too much about sealings; I figure they will all be worked out and we can’t have too many.

    I had a friend growing up who had a medical issue–I think it was called brittle bone disease–as did several of his siblings, which cause them to frequently break bones. They had MANY instances of neighbors calling CPS on the family.

  15. John Mansfield on February 18, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Most adoptions I’ve noticed seemed straight-forward enough, but I’ve also seen several would-be adoptive mothers who get a little bit crazy from the stress of hoping for something important and the zeal to improve some child’s life.

  16. Catania on February 18, 2009 at 11:56 am

    My children were BIC with my first husband. He was since ex-communicated, our temple marraige was cancelled, and I remarried in the temple. My current husband is adopting the children, but there is no need for him to be “sealed” to them as they already have the blessings of the Covenant.

    When I was going through the cancellation of temple blessings process, the Stake President explained The sealing of children to parents in the following way: “Your children will one day be sealed to their spouses. In Heaven, there are many mansions, and you better believe that my kids are NOT going to live in MY mansion! They will get their own mansion with their own spouses. I hope they live on my cul-de-sac, but not in my mansion.” Anyways. this helped me understand it all in a new light. Yes, sealing does unite us, and it is important, but what is more important is our children one day get sealed to their spouse, and make the new and everlasting covenant with their Heavenly Father – so we all can have neighborhood barbeques together, while we enjoy our OWN mansions…

  17. Alison Moore Smith on February 19, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Frankly, I don’t want my own mansion with just my husband and me pittering around. Much as I adore my husband and much as I’m happy to take occasional “honeymoon” vacations from the mansion, like we did two weeks ago. It’s hard for me to fathom the great need for having children BIC or sealed if it just means…well…nothing. So I assume it means more than, “We’ll both be there.”

    As an adoptee, I can tell you that the ONLY thing that ever bothered me about being adopted was that sometimes I worried (and even had nightmares) that my birth parents came to take me away from my REAL parents.