Celebrating Catholic Motherhood

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Catholic Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton

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Visit Al Kresta's Web Site at “Kresta in the Afternoon” to listen online.

“Dear Birth Mother…” A Mother’s Day Tribute

This morning I received a phone call from the producer of WDEO’s “Kresta in the Afternoon”.  She asked if I knew of any Catholic women who had made an adoption plan for their children. They wanted to find a way to honor these courageous women during the week of Mother’s Day.

I was delighted when my dear friend Karen agreed to be interviewed. Like Miss Terri (see last week’s post,
Thank God for "Real" Family), Karen is someone who came into my life at a particularly trying time, and who continues to be a source of inspiration to me.

Sixteen years ago, Karen placed her infant daughter with a loving couple. She was already raising one child on her own, and knew she couldn’t possibly handle a second. “Leah is sixteen now,” Karen says. “I promised her adoptive parents that I wouldn’t contact her before she is eighteen, but she is in touch with my grandmother.” For years her other daughter, Stella (now a beautiful young woman) was angry about her mother’s decision to relinquish her sister. “But now she says she understands. She sees what it takes to raise a child (referring to her active son, Calvin). And she finally gets it.”

Though her life is not without its challenges, Karen inspires me because she was able to take the inglorious trajectory of her life and turn it around. Married to Dan, a loving partner and friend, Karen uses her tremendous people skills and organizational savvy to keep a large consulting firm running smoothly. Her children continue to be a source of joy, and she was recently reunited with her own birth family.

The best thing about Karen, however, is the loving heart that drives her. When I got married in 1999, she and Dan and their family flew all the way from California to run the reception – attending to all the little details that made our big day an event people continue to talk about years later. One of my favorite memories is of she and Dan leading the children’s reception, helping the clamoring swarm to break open a heart-shaped piñata full of treats. Still, she found time to follow me around, making sure that my Diet Coke stayed full and cold.

This is a woman who has known heartache, and yet it has softened her and made her more compassionate. Later, when I thanked her for what she did on my wedding day, she responded quietly, “Well, my wedding day was a bit of a disaster, and I promised myself that if I ever had a chance to help someone else, I would.”

How can you not love someone like this?

So finally, on this Mother’s Day week I’d like to thank you, Karen. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for doing the right thing, even when it hurt like crazy. Thank you for not closing up on life, but continuing to do your best and bravest each and every day. You inspire me.

Most of all, thank you for being you. I love you.

I’d also like to write a little note of encouragement to the women out there who are struggling with misplaced guilt over the prospect of making an adoption plan. Yours is one of the most brave and truly selfless acts any human being is ever called upon to make. Because of your willingness to bring your child into the world, rather than take the “short cut” of abortion, you are a true mother regardless of what the future holds.

On behalf of your child, and the adoptive parents whose life you are about to touch, thank you for being so brave. You will always remember your child in your heart, and think of him or her often. But your courage will give four people a chance at a better life: your child, his or her adoptive parents, and yourself. Of that you can always be proud.


Heidi Hess Saxton and her husband Craig are adoptive parents of two children from the foster system. Heidi is editor of "Canticle" magazine, a publication of Women of Grace. A convert to the faith since 1994, Heidi is also a graduate student of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, and a frequent contributor to  Visit Heidi's blog at

Would you like to receive Heidi's column by email?  Send a message to Heidi.






Adoption Resources:
These resources have been recommended by our readers.  To suggest a link or book, email [email protected] with your suggestion.

Helpful Links:

*Several readers have recommended local DHS and Catholic Charities for adoption resources. 

Little Flowers Foundation

Catholic Charities USA

National Council for Adoption

Priests for Life Alternatives to Abortion Resource Page

US Department of Health and Human Services

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse

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