Adoption of Children
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Thomas, Ryan L.
The adoption of children is common among members of the Church. This is no doubt in part a concomitant of the Church's opposition to abortion and its emphasis on the central importance of the family. President Ezra Taft Benson, commenting on adoption, stated that many "have prayerfully chosen to adopt children, and [you] wonderful couples we salute for the sacrifices and love you have given to those children you have chosen to be your own" (Benson, p. 11).
There are no doctrinal limitations on the legal adoption of children by members of the Church. Under most circumstances, adopted children may be sealed to the adoptive parents in an LDS temple (see Sealing). However, living children born in the covenant, that is, born to parents who have been sealed to each other in an LDS temple, cannot be sealed to any other parents although they can be adopted for life; and children who have been previously sealed to another couple may not be sealed to adoptive parents without cancellation of the former sealing. The temple sealing of a living adopted child into an eternal family relationship is performed only after legal adoption is finalized in accordance with local law (General Handbook of Instructions, Salt Lake City, 1989, 6-6).
Adopted children who have been sealed to adoptive parents are considered as natural children for all doctrinal purposes, including tracing genealogical lineage. All sealed children are entitled to all the blessings promised to children born in the covenant.
The desire to adopt children is strong among Church members, but Church leaders have cautioned them never to become involved in adoption practices that are legally questionable. In a letter dated April 20, 1982, the First Presidency urged members to "observe strictly all legal requirements of the country or countries involved in the adoption." It was also stated that "the needs of the child must be a paramount concern in adoption." Members considering adoption are counseled to work through the Church's Social Services agency or through others with the "specialized professional knowledge" necessary to ensure that the child's needs are met.
Benson, Ezra Taft. Annual Parents Fireside, Feb. 22, 1987. Church News (Feb. 28, 1987):3, 10.
RYAN L. THOMAS