Catholic Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton
Catholic Mom Columns
by Heidi Hess Saxton
Over Italian sausage and spinach quiche, our whole family (Dad was home for
dinner last night, so as Sarah says, "It's a PAH-tee!") bowed our heads and
thanked the good Lord.
God is great, God is good
Let us thank Him for this food;
by His hands we all are fed,
Thank You, God, for daily bread. Amen.
Just as I started to pinch off a bit of the crust (my favorite part), Sarah
"Now I wanna say special grace."
I had offered a prayer like this the day before, when extended family
gathered to celebrate the completion of our new deck. "OK, Sarah. Go
"Thank You God for ... for sausage and Popeye spinach ..." There was more.
Lots more, much of it unintelligible as Sarah conversed with the Almighty
with her own special prayer language.
My husband opened one eye and looked at me as if to say, "Can we eat yet?"
"... and thanks for everybody here. In the Name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit, Amen!"
Everyone breathed a sigh of relieve and started to dig in. Then, just as I
started to take a bite of my rapidly cooling sausage, Sarah spoke again.
"Can I say another one?"
Christopher's sour expression reminded me of the time he shoved a jalapeno
up his nose. Now, Christopher’s reaction was doubtless prompted by hunger
than a lack of faith. At the age of six, Christopher already has a firmly
entrenched faith. I’ll never forget the time I found Christopher handing out
Cheeze-Its, one at a time, to his preschool friends, intoning "The Body of
Christ, the Body of Christ." At that moment, he looked as though he was
going to go rifling through the cupboards for a handful of those cheesy
little crackers unless I did something fast, so I intervened.
"Let's save it for bedtime -- or for supper tomorrow night, OK Sarah?"
Still, I had to smile at my daughter’s first unprompted extemporaneous
prayer offering. It's those unguarded moments when we are reminded how
closely our children watch us, and how thirsty they are to know what you
REALLY believe so they can incorporate it into their own little lives. This
is the daily grace of parenting, a lifetime of spiritual booster shots.
It happened last Sunday, too, when it was my turn to do the first reading.
Just as I approached the lectern, I felt a little hand go in mine. Now, I
should preface this by saying that the first time she saw me go up to read,
Sarah pitched the mother of all hissy fits: "NO!!! You can't go up there!
It's for FATHER WILL!" For a time I considered stopping this particular form
of service until Sarah got to be a little older and could understand what
was happening, but our liturgist cautioned me against it. "What better way
could Sarah learn that everybody has a job to do than to continue what you
And so, we continued. And today, when I felt that little hand in mine, I had
a brief instant to make a decision: Return to the pew and hand her off to
Craig, or take her with me?
I'm not sure how liturgically sound the result was, but I can guarantee it
was the quieter option: I climbed the alter steps with my daughter, and she
stood there listening intently while I read from the passage in 2 Kings that
prefigures the feeding of the five thousand. "Cast your bread upon the
waters, and it shall return a hundredfold."
This, in essence, is parenting. We throw out a few crumbs, and watch the
Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can't Live With Their Parents,
by Janice Levy (Magination Press, 2004).
Kids who can't live with their parents -- both those in foster care,
and those who live with other relatives -- have big feelings. This
book, appropriate for kids 6-12, handles them all with tact and
empathy through the figure of "Aunt Dane," the Mary Poppins of foster
parents. Foster parents will relate to the buxom caregiver, and
wish we had her unflagging optimism and wisdom. In the meantime, we
can learn from her, too.
A special section in the back of the book coaches foster parents on
how to help the children in their care to cope with the realities of
their lives by following Aunt Dane's favorite truisms: "Yesterday is
history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift."
|Heidi Hess Saxton and her husband
Craig are adoptive parents of two children
Christopher (6) and Sarah (4).
the editor of Canticle
magazine, the “voice” 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 CatholicExchange.com.
Read more of Heidi’s writing through her website
www.christianword.com or visit Heidi's blog
Would you like to
receive Heidi's column by email? Send a message to
Thank you for your support of CatholicMom.com
through your Amazon purchases!