I spent the first seven years of my life in foster care. For lots of reasons that I can’t explain in a single paragraph, my brother and I were adopted by a Mormon family when Rex was nine and I was seven years-old. Actually, my story is complicated enough I wrote a book about it. Here are a few paragraphs on how I became a Mormon:

“After we moved to the Spencer’s house we were introduced to their religious faith. They were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons as they are commonly referred to. Rex was nine years-old when we were adopted, which meant he was old enough to be baptized into the church right away.

We both took lessons with missionaries who explained the history of the church and its beliefs. Rex was eager to talk to the missionaries and asked very detailed questions, absorbing the theology like a sponge. I wasn’t so interested. I just enjoyed goofing around with the 19 year-old missionaries after our lessons. They were a lot of fun and didn’t mind a seven year-old who wanted to pretend arm wrestle with them.

Rex enjoyed Primary, the children’s Sunday school program. He liked singing and participating in the games and story telling. I wasn’t all that fond of church. Compared to other churches we went to in foster care, this one was much longer and required a lot more sitting and paying attention. They sang way more and expected me to sing too. And most annoying, they didn’t feed us cookies during classes. The Catholic and Jewish programs were way better.

By the time I turned eight year-old, which is considered the age of accountability and typically when baptism takes place, I had made friends with the kids my age at church and it was ok. Besides, what choice did I have? I didn’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness like Ralph and Claudia. I liked birthdays, the Fourth of July and Christmas and Easter candy. I didn’t have any strong feelings about any church, even though I had been to plenty. Just like everything else, my religion was decided by the adults. My God was now a Mormon God. I assumed the Jewish, Catholic, Evangelical and Jehovah’s Witness Gods would understand.” -excerpt from “Ezra and Hadassah: A Portrait of American Royalty

My book is a memoir about growing up in state care, then being adopted into a supposedly idyllic Mormon family and how I ended up reconnected back to my biological parents. Along the way I learned about abuse, mental illness, God, love and the Supreme Court. You should read it, you might learn something too. At the very least, it will make you want to reach out and give someone you love a hug.

Blog for “Ezra and Hadassah: A Portrait of American Royalty” by Heather Young

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