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PATTI - I have a question about a blessing someone received recently that my sister in law told my mother in law about. She said that this woman received a blessing because she had trouble getting pregnant. In the blessing she was told that because she waited to start to have children, her children were given away to someone else and she shouldn't have waited. I wondered if this man that gave the blessing is repeating doctrine. Or something that has been taught over the years. It's the first I had heard of it. I thought it rather mean and uncalled for.

JOEL - Don't know why he would say that in the blessing. There is no doctrine or teachings from living prophets that would support it. It sounds more like a folk tale that someone started who was trying to give an explanation as to why someone couldn't conceive. As far as we know children that are born to us were never supposed to be born to someone else.

This relates to the idea of whether we knew our children in the premortal life or how children are assigned to a particular family. In Acts we read:
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;" (Acts 17:26)

According to Paul many spirits may have been foreordained to specific nations and generations ("bounds of habitation"), as well as varied assignments, work, or missions on earth. While there is evidence of at least some degree of foreordination to families, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that there was "no scriptural justification... for the belief that we had the privilege of choosing our parents." (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972), p. 44).

Addressing this issue in a talk given to seminary and institute teachers in 1966, Elder Harold B. Lee stated that "we have no revealed word" on the extent to which premortal choices of family members were made. He then cautioned that we should not accept or teach ideas that cannot be firmly established in the standard works or by inspired utterances of the living prophets. In 1971, the First Presidency once again declared that "we have no revealed word to the effect that when we were in the preexistent state we chose our parents and our husbands and wives." (The First Presidency, 1971, as cited in Steve F. Gilliland, "I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1977, p. 40.)

So there really is no official teaching that there is a pre-determined number of children we should have. Of course God knows the beginning from the end and knows what children we will have. Obviously when a couple uses birth control they will not have as many children as they could have. But we don't know enough about this to tell someone that it is their fault that the children they should have had were given to someone else.

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