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Catholic Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton

Additional Catholic Mom Columns


An Adoption Story

For the Girls… especially Denise (and her family).

This is a true story about a little girl named Danielle. When Danielle was a baby, she didn’t have a lot to be happy about. She didn’t have a Mommy or Daddy to take care of her. She lived in an orphanage in a place called Ukraine. She didn’t have any toys to play with. And she had red bumps all over her that itched, itched, itched!

One day Danielle’s angel flew to heaven and said, “God, is there anything we can do for little Danielle? She needs a family.”

And God said, “You’re right! Let’s see what we can do.”

Meanwhile, a young woman in America wanted a family, too. Even though she lived alone, Miss Denise had lots of love to give someone. “Maybe there’s a child out there who needs me,” she thought, and prayed. “God, help me find that child.” She prayed. And she prayed. And she prayed some more.

God heard the young woman’s prayers, thought of Danielle, and smiled. Then he sent Danielle’s angel to guide Miss Denise

from her house in America
to a plane across the ocean
to a train across the country
to the orphanage in Ukraine.

Now Danielle would have a family. She would be safe, and have toys and food. She would have medicine for her itches. And best of all, she would have lots of love from her Mommy and Nana and her uncles and aunts and cousins and even a dog named Jack and a cat named Mac!

“See how much God loves you, Danielle? He brought you home to me!” said Danielle’s new Mommy. Danielle closed her eyes and went to sleep in her new little bed, and her angel was very happy.

What’s the “Right” Reason to Adopt?

When I was in my early thirties, and still unmarried, I became a part of a young adult group at my church. Like many in the group, I had hoped to find Mr. Right at these meetings – and, like many, was sorely disappointed in that regard. What I did find, however, was in many ways even better: a group of women friends who agreed to pray for each other as we discerned our respective vocations.

Nearly a decade has passed, and still we continue to gather at least twice a year as a group: a birthday Tex-Mex celebration each summer, and our annual Advent Tea. Our friendships have gone through phases and stages; yet, as a group, we count on one another in good times and bad.

Three of us are now married, and three (including one single friend) have each adopted two children. Another hosts an exchange student each year. None of us have given birth, but have chosen instead to embrace paragraph 2379 of the Catechism:

Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give _expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding service for others.

The ways God creates family are as diverse as they are unique. While many decide to adopt after being unable to conceive, not all who chose to adopt are infertile. And there are an amazing number of supposedly “infertile” couples that — miracle of miracles — become pregnant after opening their homes to a child who needs them. In the words of Mary Beth Bonacci, “God is always generous with His ‘Plan B.’”

Craig and I decided to become foster parents, and were able to adopt the first children assigned to us (three years later!). Becoming a foster parent is a definitive pro-life choice and one of the most emphatic ways to turn the tide on the culture of death; however, ultimately we didn’t go this route for such high-minded ideals. We did it because we wanted to share the love we had found in each other.

Some have argued that taking a child into one’s home for purely ideological reasons (such as wanting to “save” a child or offer him or her a better life, even in God’s name) is to offend the dignity of that child by treating him or her like a “project.” I’m not sure I agree. It is impossible to love someone in the abstract; doing something out of love for God, on the other hand, is to open oneself as a conduit of grace. While it would be wrong to continue to treat a child (once he is in your home) as a project rather than a person, initiating that process out of simple charity is an act of faith that bears fruit not only in the child’s life, but in your own as well.

Consequently, those who live with the regret of abortion might choose to adopt an older or special needs child – possibly one the same age as their child would be, had he lived – in reparation for the past. The benefit of this is two-fold: what starts as an act of penance would likely become a source of great joy.

But will you ever really love a child that isn’t “really” yours? This is a nagging question for many prospective adoptive parents. Can an adopted child be loved as much as a child who shares one’s genetic material. Having never given birth myself, I cannot answer this definitively. However, I have spoken to lots of adoptive parents who affirm that this is the case. When someone asks which are their “real” children, they can honestly say, “All of them!”

Love expands the heart, and is never wasted. Even love extended tentatively, conditionally, theoretically has a way of creeping into the crevices of the psyche and enflaming the soul. God is like that — give him the tiniest, most hesitant offering, and He multiplies it like the loaves and fishes.

This is not to say there won’t be days when you collapse into bed and wonder what on earth you’ve gotten yourself into. There will be. All parents have those kinds of days that go on for weeks and weeks. One day you may even find yourself the brunt of adolescent outrage, as your child shouts, “You’re not my real mom! I hate you!”

By that time, please God, you will have settled this issue within yourself and have the grace to respond in confidence, “Ah, but you are my real child, and I love you!”

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

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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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