A Tale of Three Junes


I saw the obituary today for your adoptive grandmother, June. Did you know that my grandmother’s name is June? Did you know I have a picture of my Grandma June – your great Grandma June – holding you when you were four or so months old? Did you know that my older sister’s middle name was June?

Those are stupid questions.

Of course you don’t know.

Perhaps you don’t even care that we both have grandmothers named June. According to all those good birth mommies out there in the blogosphere (of which I am most decidedly not one since I am speaking the truth of what it is like to live as an LDS birth mother for the last 18 years for the rest of eternity), I don’t even have the right to wonder about this or the right to grieve this latest “coincidence.”  You are sealed to that family for ever and ever and ever AMEN and I should just get over “it.”

Adoption – the gift that on keeps giving.

 

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6 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Junes

  1. That is something I don’t understand about the LDS views.

    I know there is a “sealing” (I’m sorry if that isn’t the right term, I readily admit to an ignorance in this area) in a temple that forever bonds the child to his or her adoptive parents, but does it, in return – for lack of a better word – unbond them from their orignial family?

    • Cassi –

      Yes – “sealing” is the correct term for the ordinance that is performed to join families together. This practice is driven by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ doctrine that families can continue into the eternities. The reason is it called a “sealing” ceremony is that we believe it binds individuals into eternal family units, sealing us together as families. This same ceremony is performed when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are married in one of the numerous temples worldwide.

      If a couple is married in the temple by what we consider to be divine authority, their children are born in the covenant, meaning they are already sealed to their parents for eternity and are rightful heirs to the Abrahamic covenant (see Genesis 12). No other ordinance need take place in this instance. However, when a child is adopted or if a family joins the church and already has children, the sealing ordinance is performed, essentially binding the parents and the children together as an eternal family unit and bestowing on them the same promises and blessings as children born in the covenant.

      Now, this doctrine brings much comfort to many people throughout the world. Personally, I *love* the idea that my husband and I can continue on in the next life being BFFs. I *love* the notion that my fabulous sons and sweet Penelope will be forever a part of this river of family that flows from generation to generation throughout time and the eternities.

      Where this doctrine gets “tricky” (or downright hurtful) is when it comes to situations like the one I grew up in. My parents were married for time and eternity in the temple and so all 12 of the children in our family were born in the covenant. My bio dad was an abusive and cruel man, eventually ending up in prison for his behavior. The thought of being connected to that man for eternity because I am sealed to him? Makes me want to vomit.

      Along comes my New and Improved Dad – when I was 26, he legally adopted me. According to EVERYTHING any of us had EVER been told, when a child (me) is adopted (by Dad 2.0), then they are sealed to the new family. So we went to our church leaders, thrilled that I could finally unload the baggage of my bio dad once and for all, amen. I said, “Hey – I am legally adopted by this dude (pointing at Dad 2.0). Now I want to be sealed as his daughter.”

      Guess what I was told?

      I couldn’t be sealed to my New and Improved Dad as his daughter because the sealing ordinance was already in effect in my life. By virtue of the fact I was born in the covenant, being sealed to my New and Improved Dad was out of the question.

      Both me and my New and Improved Dad were like, “Say whhaaaaaaaat?” I struggled mightily with this – was I being told I was stuck with bio-abuser FOREVER????? Now THAT would be my definition of hell!!!!

      Eventually we met with the temple president (a high-ranking church official who knows all the ins and outs of how these things work). I was bawling my eyes out – you know the ugly Oprah cry kind of bawling – because I did not understand why I had to stay sealed to the man who molested me. I had been legally adopted by my New and Improved Dad and he and my mom were sealed as husband and wife so didn’t that mean I could be sealed to him as his daughter???!!!!

      The temple president was a very wise and gentle man (with several boxes of Kleenex in his office). After he talked me off the proverbial ledge he said to me, Melynda – what is most important is that the sealing ordinance is in place, not who it is too. It is the ordinance that is important – God will take care of the rest of it. God will not force any family members to associate in the eternities who do not want to associate. It is the ordinance and your personal worthiness that act as keys to open the door to eternal family relations of your choosing. He then quoted me a scripture upon which he based his comments, “For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence, wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light…

      Basically what he was trying to convey to me was that birds of a feather flock together, even in the eternities. God will not violate our free will and because of this, he will not force us to be with people in the eternities we do not want to be with.

      That was over 10 years ago. I still am a little perplexed by his response. Comforted in some ways, but still…it doesn’t fit in with the hard-line interpretation that as a LDS birth mother I have always been hammered with. I have since spoken to several other church leaders and they have told me pretty much the same thing – it is the ordinance that is important, not necessarily who it is to. Don’t worry – God will sort it all out.

      So what does this mean for children who are adopted and sealed to their adoptive families? What does it mean for adoptive parents who put in the time and effort to raise these children? I don’t know the whole answer, but what the temple president told me makes me think that it will be up to the adoptee to decide what family they want to be a part of in the eternities. Maybe there will be some who want to continue being a part of their adoptive family for the rest of forever (raising my hand and waving madly) and maybe there will be some who decide they have more affinity for their natural families. Or maybe (because God is WAAAAAAAY bigger and smarter than any of us mere mortals), there is another path where they don’t have to choose between either family, a path that we don’t understand with our finite minds. I just don’t know the answer. It is one of those things that I have had to turn over to God and accept the fact I am not going to get many satisfactory answers in this life time about this topic, it is just one of those leaps of faith I am willing to make.

      I hope some of that made sense…but perhaps it just confused things even more. It’s a tough thing even for life-time members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints to sort out. It might be while nigh upon impossible for others to wrap their heads around. After all, it is “deep doctrine” we are talking about here.

      Off to bed for me now –

      M.

  2. There is no getting over adoption, no matter what happens. At best we weave our experiences into who we are, at worst, they plague us every day. It is so difficult.

    The gulfs that we must cross are so wide. I admire you for writing to your daughter and making her part of your family, sealed to her adoptive family or not. She is YOURS.

    (((Melynda)))

  3. Your writing is haunting, heartbreaking, and absolutely beautiful. If I were adopted and found out that my birth mom was writing me beautiful letters from her heart like this, it would feel so absolutely good. It’s such a loving, motherly thing you are doing for her. I think it’s really beautiful that you are keeping this blog for her.

    • Dear butterfly –

      Thank you for the kind words. I do worry about what my daughter will think should she ever encounter this blog (maybe she already has?). I worry that my emotions are too raw and too real at times for her…but then I have to take a step back and remember – they are what they are. This is the authentic me, in ways I cannot be in many parts of my life.

      M.

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