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Catholic Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton

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Happy Adoption Day! 

Surfing through my favorite blogs this evening, I suddenly realized that I missed a wonderful opportunity:  Today is National Adoption Day! If you are a member of an adoptive family, I hope you find a way to celebrate. Bring out the cake!!! 

Surfing the TV channels tonight, however, it became clear that the media still has a long way to go before they are prepared to party. This evening my husband and I were watching “Cold Case,” in which a pair of high-school kids brought their baby into the world in a locker room … and reneged on the plan they had made with a couple desperate to adopt. When the birth father gives the prospective adoptive father the news, the adoptive father loses control and hits the boy with his car. Birth mother, thinking she has been abandoned, leaves child where someone will find and take care of her … the kid is picked up by a third party with questionable motives. A sad story all around. The thing is, I find it more than a little ironic (not to mention in bad taste, given the timing) that the only “bad guy” seems to be the man who was willing and able to give the baby a home.  

In every adoption, there is always at least one broken heart. It is inevitable … God created married couples to reflect His image in the love they have for each other, which enables them to be co-creators (with God) of the lives they bring into the world through that love. When this plan is set aside – whether foolishly, through unmarried sex, or sacrificially, through a subsequent adoption plan – the pain is real, and lasts a lifetime. It affects everyone involved – children, adoptive parents, and birth parents alike. It may be the right choice. It may be the best and most selfless choice. But it is not a clear choice – except perhaps for those whose arms are aching to hold a child. 

Although I am an adoptive parent, I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that God never intended adoption to be His first choice for any child. However (and this is the point that seems lost on much of the media) the point at which God’s plan is derailed is not when adoption papers are signed, but when a life is conceived outside a lifelong marriage commitment. From that point on, the best one can hope for is to contain the damage – and, frankly, once the abortion landmine is circumnavigated, all too often it boils down to taking the less objectionable of two undesirable scenarios: a flawed biological connection (one immature or overwhelmed parent or two resentful ones) vs. a benevolent adoptive one. Either way, the child is marked for life – though at least he does have a life. 

As we release our helium balloons into the air and blow out the candles on another “Adoption Day” cake, lets take a moment to acknowledge that our dream come true may look very different to our children – if not now, certainly someday, and sooner than we’d like. Signed adoption papers are not the “happy ever after” of a fairy tale; adoption is, at best, God’s generous “Plan B” for that child, a testimony to His ability to make good come out of every bad situation for those who are committed to love and serve Him. And His ability to be a true “Father” to every child He first loved when formed in her mother’s womb.  

Adoptive parenting, then, is an opportunity for a couple to reflect that image of God by becoming not co-creators, but co-lovers and co-redeemers of human beings whose dignity has been marred by the poor choices of their first parents (just as the dignity of the whole human race was marred by our first parents in the Garden).  

Thankfully, adoptive parents also have an opportunity to mirror that divine image back to our children. As we continue to walk alongside them in good times and bad, we can guide them to discover within themselves all the truth and beauty of God created within them from the very beginning. And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating.


Heidi Hess Saxton and her husband Craig are adoptive parents of two children Christopher (6) and Sarah (4). is 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  Read more of Heidi’s writing through her website or visit Heidi's blog at

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11/21/06 Recommends:







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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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