This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
I am a Mormon, a single mother and an ER doctor. When my daughter's non-Mormon father and I divorced, my LDS ward took us in, comforted and sustained us.
Several years later, when I had an opportunity to adopt her brother as a still-single mom, the ward did the same thing. The Relief Society brought food, and a friend held my baby while I taught Sunday school. When his adoption was final, my son's grandfather gave him a name and a blessing, and my adopted, divorced, cobbled-together family has gone to church most Sundays ever since. My Mormon ward has given my unconventional family a home.
In choosing to raise my children Mormon, I am calculating that the messages they receive there about God's love, as well as the redemptive qualities of being part of a loving, church community will outweigh whatever cognitive dissonance they experience about the nature of our family.
When my daughter asks questions about divorce, eternal families or her Catholic dad, it gives me an opportunity to tell her what I believe, to invite her to develop her own beliefs, and to remind her that sometimes good people disagree. When someday my son realizes that he does not have a father in his day-to-day life, I will encourage him that all families are different, that he can cherish his, and that God loves him and our little family no matter what its shape.
Sustained by the kindness of ward members and reminders that we are all children of God, going to church does not cause conflict for my children, but gives them a safe place to acknowledge conflicts they already know exist. Participation in church blessings and ordinances, such as baptism, confirms for them the fact that even children from non-traditional families, like ours, are known, cherished and watched-over by God.
Recently, the LDS Church announced policy that prohibits children of married, same-sex parents from being named, blessed and baptized until they are of "legal age" and have disavowed the "practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage." As rationale, Elder Todd Christofferson cites desire to protect children from conflict "in very tender years." While I appreciate his good intentions, my own experience suggests that even more than protection, children in nontraditional families need support and unconditional love. They benefit most when they find themselves secure, in the center of families and organizations that accept them as exactly who they are.
So when I consider the new LDS Church policy, I will leave church doctrine to Mormon leaders, and family law to the Supreme Court. I will not, however, leave children of LGBT parents the vulnerable, fledgling, humans at the center of this conflict without an advocate. I hope Mormon congregations will continue to make these children feel welcome, that we will cherish them based on their own merits, and that they can soon have the same blessings and ordinances other children do. If they want to join their children, I hope we will keep our doors and hearts open to their parents, too.
I express my hope not just because it's the right thing to do, or even because taking care of children is something upon which most thoughtful people can agree. I express this hope because there is something magical and sacred about being a member of a loving, church community. An ordinary Mormon ward can save a family. They saved mine.
Marion Bishop, M.D., Ph.D., lives in Logan.