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Catholic Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton

Additional Catholic Mom Columns

The "Prayer of Abandonment" for Adoptive Parents

Father, we abandon ourselves into your hands,
to send a child ... or not ... as you see fit.
You by whom the Word was made flesh,
send us a miracle, if this is what you desire.
Or lead us to her, if that be your will.

We do not ask for guarantees; no parent can.
Only light enough for the very next step.
We do not ask for a perfect child,
nor can we promise to be perfect parents.
Whatever you choose for us, whatever you desire
we abandon ourselves to your perfect will.

We are ready to offer our daily "yes,"
until that perfect will be revealed in us.
And until, at last perfected, we bear witness
to the work of redemption you began in Eden.

We love you, Lord, and offer ourselves to you,
wholly and without reservation.
We surrender ourselves, moment by moment,
knowing that this is only the first small step
Of a lifetime of surrender,
so that we may be made more perfect in love.
That we might imitate, on earth as in heaven,
the redemptive love
the adoptive love
the selfless love
with which you first loved us.

Order Behold Your Mother

Readers can find the resources mentioned in Heidi's column at her blog or available for purchase through our own store.

The Piano Lesson

He was a study in concentration. Fingers curled and head bent over the keys, Christopher pointedly ignored my admonitions to look at the music instead of his hands. A few measures into “The Birthday Song,” he got to the part where he was supposed to play with both hands at once.

Big pause. Dramatic intake of breath. Clunk.

“Double check your left hand, Buddy. The fingering isn’t quite right.”

Eye roll (when did THAT start?) and another deep breath. Clank.

I sat next to him and saw that he needed to move his left hand down two keys. “Here, like this.”

He whips his hand away, angry and frustrated. “UHMMMMN!” he grunted, folding his arms for emphasis. “I’m DUMB. STUPID. I can’t DO this.”

“Sure you can! Just try again. I’ll get it … just like you got all the other pieces of music in the book. You’re almost ready for Book Two!”

But he wasn’t listening. Instead he threw himself on the floor. “I don’t WANT to go to the lesson tonight. I’m always so TIRED. I want to stay HOME.”

Clearly, my son was in need of some downtime. He had gotten up early that morning to finish his homework, had a full day of school, and now was trying to cram three days of practice into the hour before we were to leave for his lesson. Christopher wanted nothing so much as to sit back and watch an episode of Scooby Doo.

Was this what an eight-year-old’s life is supposed to be like? Was it his medicine? Our unrealistic expectations? The normal rantings of an overtired second grader? What’s a mom supposed to do?

I typed a note to his piano teacher, wondering if perhaps we should discontinue lessons. Her response was heartfelt … 

Oh Heidi, I sense a real battle of the wills here. Ideally Christopher should be motivated and focused enough to practice without your coaxing, but I think that's beyond him right now. Ideally Christopher could live in a music school like the one founded by Yeuhudi Menuhin outside of London where he would pop in and listen to kids practice.  But, alas this is not the situation. 

The bottom line is, Christopher is gifted, and how much effort you want to expend to get him to keep on track is up to you. Talk to other moms who have kids taking lessons and ask them how they cope. Play some CDs of great piano music, or organ music! Encourage him to spend just five minutes at a time on one assigned piece. Then at another interval, 5 minutes on another. I think you have a very gifted child on you hands, he shows such promise. He does show delight in his progress.  Both of you deserve praise for this! It's tricky business to nourish this gift.

And so, I chalked up the drama to an overtired kid, and made a mental note to give him some down time the next day. I picked him up from school at the normal time, and he was elated because he had won some glittery glue sticks for “treasure box.” He got home and immediately set to work, making me an elaborate card with hearts and swirls. Next thing I knew, he was screaming and throwing markers. Apparently the gold-gray was leaking. “Christopher! Calm down! What’s the matter…?”

And then I saw it. The white spindle rocker in his room, that I used to use to rock him to sleep, was lying on its side. Suddenly a light went on. The overtiredness. The overreactions. The low self-confidence.

He was eight. I had been warned about what happens to kids at certain development milestones … and “eight” was a big one for some kids. Their brains were growing, developing new synapses. Processing abstractions in ways that were not possible even a year ago.

Gently I called to him, and had him sit next to me. “What can I do to help, Sweetie? What would make you feel better?”

“Pokemon. I wanna watch Pokemon.” I hate Pokemon, but I clicked channels until I found what he wanted. I helped him find his favorite jammies, and left him with a Popsicle while I went to bake the pizza.

An hour later, he was a different kid, relaxed and ready for bed. I tucked him in with our customary kisses (Eskimo, butterfly, and “buffalo”). Then, I tickled his ear. “You know something, Christopher? No matter what is going on in your life … no matter what you’re feeling or thinking, you can always tell me about it. Because no one in the world loves you more than your dad and I do.”

“And my birth parents?” Chris responded.

“You’ve been thinking about them, haven’t you?”

He nodded.

“That’s normal. And it’s OK. You can talk to us about your birth parents, too. You’re getting bigger, and your growing and learning to think about things in new ways,” I continued. “Sometimes you’re going to need more time to think, time to be still. And because I love you so much … I’m going to try hard to remember that.”

Have you encountered high-stress situations with your grade-school kids? How did you handle it? If you’re willing to share your experience, come over to “Mommy Monsters” and weigh in on the conversation:


Copyright 2008 Heidi Hess Saxton

Heidi Hess Saxton and her husband Craig adopted their two foster children in 2005. She is editor of “Canticle” magazine ( and author of Raising Up Mommy: Virtues for Difficult Mothering Moments and Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert. You may order both books at Heidi blogs for adoptive parents, Catholic writers, and has a new blog dedicated to Mary (

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

6/04/08 Recommends:


Thank you for your support of
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Books by Heidi Hess Saxton:

Raising Up Mommy: A Study in Womanly Vice and Virtue

Behold Your Mother 

Let Nothing Trouble You: 60 Reflections from the Writings of Teresa of Avila (The Saints Speak Today) 

Dine Without Whine - A Family Friendly Weekly Menu Plan


Adoption Article Archives:


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

Catholic International Adoptive Parents Yahoo Group




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