How a surprise phone call unexpectedly turned Elder Alan R. Walker into a parent overnight

The Buenos Aires Argentina Temple holds a special place in the heart of Elder Alan R. Walker, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Ines Marcela Sulé.

“We have a very special feeling about that temple because both our sealing ordinances were performed there,” said Elder Walker in an interview with the Church News after being sustained as a General Authority in the April 2019 general conference.

Although Elder and Sister Walker were married and sealed in the Buenos Aires Temple on Aug. 12, 1993, just eight months after first meeting one another at an institute dance, the couple returned in 2015 to be sealed again; this time to their daughter.

In 2005, five years prior to being called to preside over the Mexico Monterrey East Mission, Elder and Sister Walker had left an application for adoption with a private orphanage in Mexico City. But after not hearing from the facility following their submission, Elder Walker said they forgot about the application and moved on with life.

“We were called on a mission and we focused on loving and serving the missionaries,” he said. “We really hadn’t put our thought back into adoption afterwards. We had been married at that point for 20 years, and we were used to not having children and were very much enjoying life as a couple.”

Credit: Mary Archbold

As their time as mission president and companion came to a close, Elder Walker said they were focused on getting back into the flow of everyday life, even as he was called to serve as an Area Seventy in the Mexico Area. But just three months after being released as a mission president and companion, they got a surprise call from the adoption agency.

“They called us in for an interview and … they told us they wanted us to adopt Dalila,” he said.

At the interview, the agency explained they felt the Walkers would be the perfect family for one particular girl. “They remembered us from five years before … and they felt that we were the best qualified to be her parents with her personality and needs,” he said.

Although Dalila was 6 years old at the time they met and had a personality of her own, the bonding was quick. Four days after meeting each other both parents and soon-to-be daughter expressed a desire to be together as an eternal family.

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“So we became parents overnight,” he said laughing. “It was life-changing, even more so than buying the dog.”

The family dog came as a result of their daughter’s petitions, he noted.

The new little family waited until all the paperwork was finalized for the adoption, and then in 2015, although they were still living in Mexico, the family flew to Buenos Aires to be sealed all together. And earlier this year, when Dalila turned 12, the first thing she wanted to do was go to the temple and do ordinance work for her ancestors.

Of his daughter’s introduction and conversion to the Church, Elder Walker said, “I think Heavenly Father prepared her for that transition. She was very interested right away and now, six years later, she’s a full-grown member of the Church in every way.”

Her conversion happened at a young age, much like both of her parents.

Credit: Mary Archbold

When Sister Walker was about 14 years old, she took the advice of her mother and prayed to receive a testimony of her own. The testimony she received wasn’t big or grand but sweet and peaceful, she said. “It is something real and true, and it is a privilege for me to have that knowledge in my life.”

Elder Walker said he, too, developed a simple but sure testimony early on in life after reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover when he was 16 years old and preparing for a mission.

Born Jan. 2, 1971, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Victor Adrian Walker and Cristina Ofelia Sparrow Walker, Elder Walker spent many of his developmental years in Argentina before his family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and later to Mexico City, Mexico.

After attending Brigham Young University for a year, Elder Walker was called to serve as a full-time missionary in the Tennessee Nashville Mission. But following his mission, Elder Walker delayed his plans to return to school so that he could assist his father’s recovery from a serious accident.

It was during those extra months at home in Argentina that he first met his wife. It wasn’t until the day after they were married that the young couple moved to Provo, Utah, where Elder Walker completed his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1996.

Following school, Elder Walker worked for three years as a corporate banker with Citibank, six years as a controller for the Church in the South America South Area, 11 years in the Mexico Area and most recently as a director for temporal affairs for the South America South area.

Looking back at his life so far, Elder Walker noted that “learning English has been a tremendous blessing” and that it has allowed him to serve the Lord in ways he never expected. “It has probably been the biggest determining factor in my Church service,” he said.

He added that living in three different parts of the U.S. — three different cultures within the same culture — has played a large part in how he has grown and developed his ways of thinking.

That influence continues in his life today, he said, noting that some of their favorite family time happens when they get to travel and explore new places and get to know different people and cultures.

But no matter where in the world they are, Sister Walker said, “We study the scriptures as a family every day.”

Prior to being sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 6, Elder Walker served in various Church capacities including as a gospel doctrine teacher, ward mission leader, bishop, bishopric counselor, counselor in a stake presidency and Area Seventy.