I'm so blessed to have a stake calling in my church that allows me to work with LDS Family Services. Each month, we are inspired and uplifted with information regarding our calling. Today was not unlike any other meeting, but this topic has been weighing on my mind as I wonder who in our area could benefit from my services. Each stake (geographical boundary that include 8-12 congregations/wards) has an agency representative assigned to them so the information I am presenting is available to all, members and non-members alike. This post might be a little long, but it barely scratches the surface of all there is to say about this topic so I hope to include more later.
I wanted to give a little background on my experience with adoption and why I feel so blessed by it. My husband was adopted, as well as his 6 siblings, I had the sweet experience of watching someone very close to me place her baby for adoption (and that is a fabulous story in itself ), and I remember the experience of my cousin being adopted after my grandparents had been her foster parents (another great story for another day). So, my point is, that my testimony of adoption is strong, and I know it is another way that our loving Heavenly Father shows us how much He absolutely loves each and every one of us.
Today, I heard from three women who each shared their stories of why they chose to adopt. Carlie suffered from endometriosis and while she was able to conceive one baby, it was with the help of expensive and invasive medical treatments. While struggling with her medical condition, a friend made the comment that if it wasn't for infertility problems, there wouldn't be anyone to adopt all the babies. This struck a chord in her and she decided that her infertility would not be a problem for her anymore, but a solution for an unwed mother. She was blessed with the finalization of her sweet daughter just this past Thursday and is planning on taking her family to the temple on Saturday to be sealed for time and all eternity.
Another sister, Angie, suffered from cancer as a child, but the doctors reassured her that it would pose no threat to her reproductive organs. Unfortunately, this was not the case. 13 years after being married, she had a wonderful experience in the temple. The person for whom she was going through the temple was an aunt who had adopted a child before her death. Angie felt like she could hear the voice of her aunt telling her that she would be blessed by adopting children just as her aunt had. Angie is now the mother to 3 sweet adopted children.
Megan had a heart problem in childhood that seemed to heal itself after much fasting and prayers. When she was newly married, she felt prompted to go to the cardiologist before getting pregnant. The news the Dr. delivered to her was devastating; If she were to get pregnant, her heart would not be able to stand the strain put on it and she would possibly die. Megan was devastated at this news and immediately sought counsel at LDS Family Services where they told her she had to be married for at least 2 years before applying to adopt. This turned out to be a tender mercy of the Lord as she needed some open heart surgery shortly after this and a year of rehabilitation to be able to take care of herself. Once she was well, they completed the paperwork so they could adopt. She is now also the mother of 3 sweet adopted children.
I wish I could go into detail about the miraculous events that transpired as they were interviewed by birth mothers. Prayers were answered, miracles happened, and lives changed for the better. The act of placing a baby for adoption is nothing less than the biggest sacrifice a parent can make. In the book titled For the Love of a Child: The Journey of Adoption, the Introduction by Bonnie D. Parkin, then the Relief Society General President touches on many aspects of the adoption processs, including the need for repentance on the part of the birth mother. She says,
"What if you're pregnant and unwed? Here are a few of my thoughts. First, remember that you can be forgiven! You can, and you must, move forward and receive every blessing promised by the Lord to His faithful children. Then seek for the Lord's sweet forgiveness. It will be difficult, it will be painful, but forgiveness will come. Keeping a baby is not a penance to make wrong choices right - only the Atonement can do that."
In a letter from the First Presidency of our church dated 19 July 2002, it states:
"When a man and woman conceive a child out of wedlock, every effort should be made to encourage them to marry. When the probability of a successful 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. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses both the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity."
So what does this have to do with my calling? As an agency representative, I am the birth parent volunteer in my stake. My job is to assist unwed mothers on their journey through pregnancy and beyond. It is my job to be her friend and her unyielding support no matter what decision she makes with regards to her child. I can offer her information, support, programs and whatever else the situation calls for. Yes, I will encourage her to consider adoption as I support the leaders of our church and have a strong testimony of the divine principle of eternal families. But, my job is to be the one person she can count on to support her, no matter what her choice.
My calling has really not been busy, but the church statistics show that on average there will be one girl per ward per year that will find themselves in this situation; I can only hope that my stake will prove the statistics are wrong. But, if you know of someone who is in this situation, please know there is love and support on the road to forgiveness from a loving Father in Heaven, who wants us to succeed in our life's journey back to Him.
For more information check out these websites:
www.providentliving.org and click on social and emotional strength
www.southwestfsa.com if you are a couple looking to adopt
www.itsaboutlove.org for those who are pregnant, those looking to adopt, those who work in a professional capacity where they might know someone in either of those cases, or for leaders of our church in need of more information.
As always, feel free to send me a private message if you have specific questions to firstname.lastname@example.org