My husband and I are infertility survivors. After learning that our mortal bodies were not able to create children, our hearts began to turn toward adoption. This decision came with serious prayer, contemplation, and faith. For me, there was even some healthy mourning for the dream of being able to physically carry and deliver a child.
Growing up, I remember my mom telling me how spiritual the delivery room was for her when I was born. She testified of feeling so close to heaven. I wanted that for myself but came to realize that this specific experience was not going to be part of my journey in mortality. It was a hard reality to come to terms with.
Happily, my husband and I now have four incredible children. Each one of these fiery little spirits found us through adoption. The journey of becoming a family through adoption has been replete with heartache, miracles, unconditional love, and intense spiritual moments. For my mama heart, the crowning spiritual moment of each of their stories (so far!) has been having each of them sealed to us in the temple.
While in the temple for our third child’s sealing, my best friend whispered to me, “Lindsey, this is your delivery room.” The revelation that this was the moment I had really always dreamed of filled me with the Spirit of God and a burning testimony of the sealing power. Just like my mom described her delivery room experience, I too felt so close to heaven.
We are preparing as a family to attend the temple again to have our youngest child sealed to us. My hope is that it will be something that our older children will remember for the rest of their lives. I want them to experience the same burning testimony that I have experienced. I want our sealing day to be extraordinary. I want it to be spiritual. I want everyone to be ready.
Preparing for our sealing while acknowledging that this is my personal “delivery room experience” makes me want to cherish every moment and detail of this truly sacred day. This is the real moment my soul has been longing for.
How do you prepare your family to be sealed in the temple after an adoption?
I believe the real preparation comes with living the gospel every day in your home. Those teachable moments in the car with your kiddos or impromptu lessons over family dinner are the real temple prep courses. Every family prayer, Family Home Evening, and primary talk written has been preparing your family for this special temple experience. The heavy lifting of temple preparation is accomplished every day within the walls of your home as you strive to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You’re already prepared, but here are six “polishing” ideas that could help the actual sealing day be a smooth and memorable day for your family.
1. Take time to spiritually prepare.
Weeks and days before, spend a little extra effort in prayer and fasting for this special day. I like to pray for my children to have a spiritual experience. I fast for the peace and comfort of my kids’ birth families and do something special for them. I ask for the Spirit to be poured out on everyone who attends the ceremony.
That said, I recommend eating something before you attend the temple. I speak from experience when I say fasting on such an important and emotional day can lead to passing out. Trust me on this one.
There is a lot of planning involved in this event. Make sure to take some quiet time to reflect and ponder what this day means for your forever family. After all, this is your sacred delivery room experience, and you’ve most likely been preparing for this day far longer than nine months. Let your heart take it all in.
2. Make temporal preparations ahead of time.
If you’ve ever had 9 a.m. church and children, you understand the importance of temporal preparation. At my house, Saturday evenings are usually spent digging for church shoes under beds and finding a matching pair of socks. (We are not always successful.) I do this because I don’t like to be rushed or irritated before heading to church. I’ve found that feeling rushed or irritated is incompatible with me feeling the Spirit.
The same applies to temporally preparing your family for your temple sealing. Start prepping several days before. Ask for help! You aren’t the only one who is excited for this day. Chances are there are very eager grandparents, birth families, and aunties and uncles who would be honored to help you iron clothes and dig for shoes. I was so touched by the army of family and friends who showed up the day before one of our sealings to help with anything and everything. Preparing together brought us closer together.
There are some official documents that you’ll need to bring with you on the day of your sealing. The temple will send you an information packet letting you know the specifics, but most of the time you will need to bring a family group sheet for your child and a copy of the final adoption decree. It’s always a good idea to locate these important papers long before it’s crunch time.
Also, don’t forget your temple recommends! While you don’t need a living ordinance recommend, children between the ages of 8 and 21 will need to have a limited-use recommend signed by your bishop and stake president. This applies whether they are the ones being sealed or are attending to observe a sibling’s sealing. Children younger than 8 do not need a recommend.
3. Prepare older children for this spiritual experience.
Talk about the temple as a family. These talks will differ depending on the age of your children but a good place to start is by doing a little pre-assessment. Sometimes we don’t give our kiddos enough credit. I’ve found that my kids understand far more than I think they do thanks to their amazing Primary teachers! Find out where your kids are in their understanding of temples and the sealing covenant and then build on it.
You may want to consider reading children’s books and stories about the temple, singing Primary songs about eternal families, or teaching a series of Family Home Evening lessons on why the temple is important to your family. These lessons could include visiting temple grounds, talking about what everyone will be wearing on your family’s sacred day, and even looking at photos of the inside of temples from Church resources.
Don’t forget to bear testimony to your family of what the sealing ordinance means to you and why this is an important part of your family’s story. Invite other family members to share their thoughts and impressions as well.
4. Communicate with temple workers.
Let temple workers know of any special circumstances your kiddos may have and any expectations you may have (and vice versa!) so that everyone is on the same page on the special day. If having your family together in the sealing room to look at your reflection in the mirrors is important to you, talk to the temple about the possibility of that happening.
Sisters, ask if you can get dressed in the Bride’s Room. Bring your mom! Those moments with my mom are priceless memories.
Consider asking one of the grandmas to go with the kids in the children’s room before coming into the sealing room. We’ve found that this makes transitions easier and keeps anxiety for the kids at a minimum. Ask another grandmother or sister to hold young child at the altar for the ceremony.
Invite your dad, grandpa, or brother to be one of your witnesses.
Each of my children has been sealed in a different temple and each temple has had different preferences. However, each temple has always been very sensitive to the needs of my family and done everything they could to help our sealing day be as perfect as possible.
5. Be flexible.
My oldest son got sick just before coming into the sealing room and needed a change of clothes. He wasn’t wearing the little white suit I had picked out for him months in advance. But, you know what? I didn’t even notice! My mother-in-law told me of the messy tale after the sealing and it just didn’t matter.
Kids are messy. People are late. Shoes get lost. Traffic happens. I gracefully fell down the stairs at one of our sealings. My diabetic grandfather forgot his insulin at another. My husband left all our temple recommends at home at another sealing. These things just happen.
Don’t let these minor hiccups affect your spiritual mood on such an important day. Take a deep breath and let it go. If anything, they make for a great story later on.
6. Keep a record.
Take a family photo to commemorate your sealing day. Sometimes the actual sealing day is long and emotionally draining. Kids may not be in the best mood for photos after the ceremony. Consider having a family photo taken a few days in advance to make it more enjoyable for everyone.
You can also talk to your children about the events of the sealing day. Ask them questions about how they felt or what they remember most. Record their thoughts, either by writing them down or recording a video of their replies. Those accounts from older siblings about the younger sibling’s sealing day will be cherished memories and help bring your family even closer together.
Make sure to write down your own impressions as well. I can think of nothing more tender than sitting down with a child the night before their baptism and recounting their sealing day with them. Or pulling out your record of the sealing on days where parenthood seems to be especially difficult.
Just like talking about and planning for a family vacation adds to the excitement and anticipation of the actual vacation, preparing your family for your sacred day can only increase your love for and celebration of your family. It will make this spiritual experience more powerful for you and your family. You will feel so close to heaven. This is your delivery room.
Lindsey Redfern is the mom of four adorable children who were adopted. Lindsey is a blogger at The R House.