Joseph Smith first mentioned “adoption” in a discussion about the Kingdom of God in October 1843, eight months before his death. He began the actual practice of adopting men, but it did not get well enough defined for the rite to continue following his death.1 Joseph’s original instruction connected the living faithful to the “fathers” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This connection was through Priesthood, not genealogy. Joseph was connected by his Priesthood, becoming a “father” to all who would live after him. Families would be organized under Joseph, as the father of the righteous in this dispensation. Accordingly, men were sealed to Joseph Smith as their father, with they as his sons. This was referred to as “adoption” because the family organization was priestly, according to the law of God, not biological. As soon as Joseph died, the doctrine began to erode, ultimately being replaced by the substitute practice of sealing genealogical lines together. In between the time of original adoptive sealing to Joseph Smith and the current practice of tracking genealogical/biological lines, there was an intermediate step when families were tracked back as far as research permitted, then the line was sealed to Joseph Smith. That practice is now forgotten and certainly no longer practiced. The growing uncertainty, redefinition, and abandonment of the practice of “adoption” has been traced in an article which appears in the Journal of Mormon History.2 It demonstrates how quickly the topic became confused.3 When Joseph died, all understanding of the practice of “adoption” was quickly lost. Joseph Smith regarded adoption to be important for salvation. It was lost when he died. Before the Lord’s return, this will need to be clarified by the Lord returning to a place on the earth in which He can come and restore again that which was lost…even the fullness of the Priesthood (T&C 141:10) and its attendant rites. This is an orderly process that was ordained in Heaven before the creation and implemented at the time of Adam, and it must be followed in every generation. Until mankind receives the “kingdom” (or Family of God) and the Fathers in Heaven, in strict order, they will remain unprepared for the Lord’s return. The hearts of the Fathers and hearts of the children must be sealed together. Pretenders cannot accomplish it, because they will neither know how nor have the authority.4
1 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 42., paper.
2 Jonathan Stapley, “Adaptive Sealing Ritual in Mormonism,” Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, No. 3, Summer 2011, 53–117.
3 Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City : Mill Creek Press, 2011), 481–482.
4 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 43, paper.