Adoption and the Afterlife
Question answered by: Brad Masters
“Hello, I am not a Mormon, but I do believe in God, and life after death. My husband and I recently adopted a five-month-old baby girl from a young mother who was sick with colon cancer, and her husband left two months after she had the baby.
She was in tears when she realized she could not support her child, and was hysterical at the thought of giving her child up, her own daughter not knowing her birth mother. I believe that after death we will be a family together in heaven, as long as we follow the Ten Commandments and live a good life, but will Makaila* be able to see her mother after death? What will happen to her mother?”
Thank you for the question and congratulations on the new addition to your family! Our prayers are certainly with your daughter’s birth mother.
Most, if not all of us, similarly stew over spiritual questions about family, and the status of our families when death, in fact, does split us part. Mormons are certainly no exception. Like you, we believe that familial relationships can continue after death. In fact, we believe marriages that are performed in sacred temples (such as this one or this one) are “sealed” for eternity! To be sure, these marriage ceremonies require some preparation. Developing faith and obeying certain commandments help prepare us to enter those temples and perform these ceremonies. But once a marriage is sealed with this promise of eternity, a new and enriching perspective can instantly fill that family’s life. To think, the way we treat each other on earth matters because our relationships do not die when we do!
Joseph Smith, our founding prophet, described how these earthly relationships can continue on: “That same sociality which exists among us here [on earth] will exist among us [in Heaven], only it will be coupled with eternal glory.” While it’s tough to say exactly what that heavenly society will look like, it’s clear that our earthly associations can continue, and they will be even better and more glorified.
Along with our earthly family relationships, we are also each a part of the great big spiritual family of mankind. We are all the spirit sons and daughters of God; so, in a sense, we are all brothers and sisters. As we live righteously, we become an eternal family sealed together by the love of Christ and the power of God — a family that can continue to grow and mature together in the hereafter.
No doubt, the relationship you enjoy with Makaila will be more developed than her relationship with her birth mother. But everything I know about God gives me great hope that both your and their relationships may continue on into the eternities. Birthing and raising a child are both vital roles that create special bonds, even if two different people perform them. Makaila’s birth mother gave your daughter the gift of life; you are giving Makaila the gift of a life well-lived. That relationship with Makaila can be eternal: you may always call her daughter, and she may always call you mother. And she will always be tied to her birth mother by the simple fact that they are both daughters of a God who loves them. Will they be given the chance to build and strengthen a bond that this earthly life never afforded them? I’d like to think so. Ultimately, I trust God, as you do, and believe that Heaven would not truly be heavenly without our families, regardless of how they’re defined.