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Adoption of Children

[NOTE: This page contains an article and then a statement from the First Presidency on adoption]

by Ryan L. Thomas

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 (Church 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.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Adoption of Children

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS Office of the First Presidency, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, February 1, 1994.

To: General Authorities; Regional Representatives; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents

Dear Brethren:

Adoption and Unwed Parents

Priesthood and auxiliary leaders are again encouraged to renew their efforts to teach ward and stake members the importance of living chaste and virtuous lives. (See Law of Chastity) We note with alarm the continued decline of moral values in society and the resultant number of children being reared by unwed parents.

A child needs both a mother and father who provide love, support, and all the blessings of the gospel. Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. When the unwed parents are unable or unwilling to marry, they should be encouraged to place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS Social Services. Placing the infant for adoption through LDS Social Services helps ensure that the baby will be reared in a faithful Latter-day Saint family and will receive the blessings of the sacred sealing covenant. (See Temple Sealings)

Unwed parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of an obligation to care for one's own. (See Self-Suffiecincy) In many instances, an unwed parent is not able to provide the stable, nurturing environment so essential for the baby's well-being.

When deciding to place the baby for adoption, the best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration. Such a decision enables the unwed parent to do what is best for the child and enhances the prospect for the blessings of the gospel in the lives of all concerned.

Sincerely your brethren,

Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson

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