Over the past few years, I have become fascinated by the concept of adoption. After my wife and I were married, we were blessed with two children very quickly. Taylor came first, just over ten months from the day we were married, and Trenton followed just fifteen months after Taylor was born. All of a sudden, four years had gone by and we were unable to get pregnant with a third child—until one day, my wife, Kristyn, was finally pregnant. Almost immediately after we found out that she was pregnant, she got sick with a fever, higher than anything she had previously experienced in her life. The fever was so high that she lost the child in a miscarriage. Kristyn was devastated. After multiple doctors’ opinions, we concluded that she was indeed done having biological children of her own.
I couldn’t help but wonder why God would allow this to happen to such a good mother while there are so many other women out there that can have babies at the drop of a hat, and some of these mothers don’t even want children. So many babies are born out of wedlock, or are aborted, discarded, or given away, and here was a loving mother just waiting for Heavenly Father to send His precious spirits to her. I couldn’t understand it.
We were lucky. We were given two beautiful kids before Kristyn’s reproductive abilities were gone, so we have nothing to complain about. But what about all of the great moms and dads out there who have waited their entire lives to become parents, but have been denied the ability to bring a child into this world with no hope in sight? The burden of that reality has been more than some could bear. I can’t know what it’s like for a woman to desire a child, but I do know what it’s like to be a man with the desire to be called “Dad.” When you’re being denied that opportunity, what are the options?
This is where my fascination with adoption comes in. As I’ve studied the doctrine behind adoption, I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t distinguish between biological and adopted children. In the light of the gospel, we’re all brothers and sisters who have been given stewardship over our other brothers and sisters, in order to learn how to become heavenly parents ourselves.
I’ve come to realize that adoption is at the center of the entire gospel of Jesus Christ. It is woven into everything that we practice and believe. It is prevalent throughout both the old and New Testaments and was utilized even by Heavenly Father Himself with His firstborn spirit child and only Begotten Son in the flesh.
Because I’ve never experienced what it’s like to adopt, I reached out to a good friend of mine who has embraced adoption and fully experienced the blessings that flow from it. Brandon Doman was a BYU star quarterback and a Heisman trophy candidate, was drafted into the NFL by the San Francisco 49ers, and was an offensive coordinator for BYU football. Because of various business ventures I’ve had with him, I’ve been able to get to know him as a man and a dad, instead of as the “Domanator” who throws footballs. He wouldn’t tell you this, but in recent years, Brandon has received multiple collegiate head coaching offers, all of which he has turned down out of a desire to spend more time with his wife and six kids.
What most people don’t realize is that all of Brandon’s kids are adopted. To Brandon, he is their dad, just as much as if they were biologically his. He loves them and wants to be with them. He wants to have the time to be at their events, to support them, and to see them grow into successful adults. I’m not saying that anyone who coaches a team doesn’t care about their kids, but what I am saying is that for Brandon and his wife, Alisha, they want to spend as much time as possible with their family. They didn’t have to adopt. They could have chalked it up as bad luck and moved on to focus on their careers. Instead, they made the decision to apply the godly attribute of adoption to their lives and build a family that is no different than yours or mine. Brandon made the decision to bypass lucrative and promising offers and give up the game he loved so much to spend more time with the six kids he loved even more. The guy lives and breathes football. He’s a winner and a competitor. The smell of the leather, the touch of the grass, the roar of the crowd, and the brotherhood that exists among players is something that he’ll never forget. But these kids that he took under his wing became his team, and he became their coach. He said very humbly, “I feel as though my wife and I have been blessed beyond measure to have the six children that we do. We feel as though they have blessed our lives far more than we could ever bless theirs. Adoption is a miraculous selfless act that brings families together in a very direct and inspired way.”
I asked Brandon how he developed such a view on adoption when so many people struggle with the concept. He indicated that his faith and understanding of God’s plan of salvation gave him and his wife the direction and strength needed to apply the scriptural concept of adoption to their family. As he made these life-changing decisions, he said, “We draw great strength from Joseph, the adopted father of the Savior. His love and devotion to Mary and willingness to commit his life to earthly fatherhood granted to him by Heavenly Father allowed him to be the earthly patriarch for the Savior.” It was the God of heaven, the most powerful being in this universe, who utilized the principle of adoption to bring forth and raise the Son of God.
Brandon summarized his thoughts on adoption by saying:
“Heavenly Father seals upon us the promised blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, regardless of whether we are born in the covenant or adopted into the covenant. It doesn’t matter how we find the promised blessings of the sealing covenant. What matters is that we find it. We believe that adoption has afforded those blessings to our children. We are confident that this was guided by a loving Heavenly Father who knows the design and outcome of our existence.”
This thought intrigued me because it is consistent with the doctrine of sealing families—a doctrine that ranks among the sweetest of doctrines to be restored in these latter days. But sometimes, we misunderstand that doctrine. We have this vision of our family sealed together, where young kids stay young and we continue being their parents throughout eternity. What we sometimes fail to see is that the most important sealing that takes place is between husband and wife. It will be the same for your children and their children. They will get married and be sealed to their spouse, whereupon they will have the opportunity to seal biological or adopted children back to God by sealing those children to them. The sealing of children to parents is really designed to seal those children back to their Heavenly Parents. The earthly parents, regardless of who they are, and as long as they are worthy, become the link or conduit through which children are bound, or grafted, back into the eternal family of our Heavenly Parents. This sealing to our Heavenly Parents enables us to dwell in the celestial king- dom with the rest of our family members who have been found worthy to abide in that glory. In the celestial kingdom, we are also promised that each of us will be able to utilize the creative powers we witness in our Heavenly Parents.
Jeremy Jergensen, a good friend of mine and a busy stake president, talked about his faith being a central part of his and his wife Liz’s decision to adopt. Without his faith and understanding of families, they might have overlooked their miraculous opportunity to adopt and would be “missing the two sweet little spirits whom we love so much.” For Jeremy’s wife, Liz, she said simply, “My faith has been everything throughout the adoption process.” Because of the restoration of the gospel, adoption takes on a whole new meaning and significance. Before the sealing keys were restored, all of us were children without parents. But now, each of us has the opportunity to be brought together through the binding power of the Atonement. Jeremy told me, “The greatest blessing of the entire adoption process was to enter the House of the Lord [the temple] and have a child who was not born in the covenant be sealed to you.” That act on the part of two loving adoptive parents brought two adopted kids into the family of God with an eternal promise to never be fatherless again.
The Lord does all of His important work through proxies. Christ was a proxy for us. We are proxies for our deceased ancestors in the saving ordinances of the temple. earthly parents are proxies for Heavenly Parents in our respective homes. each proxy situation is designed to reconnect estranged children back to their original parents—their Heavenly Parents. All of us have been asked to be proxies in some way, shape, or form in the same way that Joseph (Christ’s adopted father) was asked to “stand in” for our Heavenly Father here on earth. Can you believe the trust bestowed upon each of us by our Heavenly Father? The principle of adoption is woven into every facet of the gospel, and the dad that becomes a father to the fatherless should be classed among the noblest of men found upon the earth.[ This was an excerpt from my book Dads Who Stay and Fight . You can learn more by clicking on the graphic below]