I was 3 days old when I was adopted and 9 months old when I was sealed to my adoptive parents in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Although I have no memory of being sealed, that day remains one that will forever stand as an incredibly joyful and poignant moment. When my mom talks about that day, she says, “It was a most glorious morning. You were dressed in your beautiful, little white dress that I still have. You, of course, were always ours, but there is something about that sealing power that erases all doubt.” Her testimony of the temple and eternal families always strengthened my own growing testimony; it reassured me that my adoption journey was part of God’s plan, and I was right where I belonged in my little, now eternal, family.
Every adoptee struggles with identity at one point or another, but I firmly believe that my sealing to my forever family helped me become more comfortable speaking openly about my adoption, my birth parents, and my hopes to one day reunite. Despite my feelings of security in my own family, my curiosity about what it would be like to meet my birth parents remained. I soon had the realization that reunion may not happen until much later in my life, possibly when my biological parents’ lives had come to an end. As depressing a thought as that was, I always reminded myself, “Don’t worry, families can be together forever.” But in my mind, that promise only held true to families who were sealed to one another. My underdeveloped understanding of eternal families and eternity caused me to believe that if I wasn’t sealed to my biological parents, then I would never get to see them in the next life.
Understandably, as an 8-year-old adoptee, I was plunging into some deep doctrine that I was not quite ready to grasp. The conversations I had with myself trying to figure it all out went something like, “She is my adoptive mom; I was sealed to her, and my dad, and my brother. But she is my birth mother. She gave birth to me. And he is my birth father, and his blood runs through my veins, too. What if my birth parents had more kids? And what if my birth parents had remarried? Who counts as my family? How do families work in the heaven? Where do they live, and who do they live with? Who gets dibs on who their family is? I don’t understand; it’s just too complicated!”
My adoption in mortality was no big deal, but what happens after this is over? All of a sudden my adoption became a subject of worry and stress. Every time I heard the song “God Be with You Till We Meet Again,” I would melt into a puddle of my own tears thinking of how I wouldn’t meet my birth parents until we were “at Jesus’ feet,” and even then, we couldn’t be together because I wasn’t sealed to them. It just didn’t seem fair.
My mom has always been willing to talk to me about my adoption, hopes of a reunion, and how we all fit into the Plan of Salvation. She was patient in answering my questions. Many, if not all questions, were answered with a simple, “I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is that Heavenly Father loves us, and He will take care of it. That’s what faith is.” With time and prayer, slowly that answer became good enough for me.
Now that I am older, I’ve been sealed to my own husband, and I have dabbled in family history work here and there. I’ve come to learn something about eternity that my younger self just couldn’t comprehend: we are all going to be sealed in the Celestial Kingdom as one big, eternal family.
And there’s no such thing as “dibs.”
While I was talking to my mother about the day I was sealed, she said, “I remember so vividly the promise that was given that your being sealed to us was as powerful as you being born into the covenant.” That power and those blessings have so obviously been poured out of heaven as my family and testimony continues to grow and become stronger every day. The eternal promises and blessings of a forever and eternal family are incomparable and something I am eternally grateful for.