November 13, 2020

Our Works of Charity / David Bethuram

Catholic Charities’ programs show adoption is a loving option

David Bethuram

November is the month for giving thanks for family and all that we have. November is also National Adoption Month.

Catholic Charities, through St. Elizabeth│Coleman in Indianapolis and St. Elizabeth in New Albany, has been part of the adoption story for thousands of children who have found forever homes through our adoption programs. Every child deserves a forever family, and every parent deserves the chance to provide the best home they can.

With our Open Adoption programs, children and adoptive families can know and have a relationship with the birth parents. Research has shown that children in an open adoption have far fewer abandonment issues because of the open relationship which offers the ability to ask questions and have a relationship with their birth parents.

Nicole and Marcus wanted a family, but had trouble conceiving so they turned to one of our Catholic Charities adoption programs for help. Our programs utilize the open adoption model, where the birthparents and adoptive parents are known and have ongoing relationship with each other. This helps complete the whole picture for the child.

At first, Nicole and Marcus were hesitant about open adoption. Nicole said they liked the idea of open adoption, but it also made them very nervous. They wondered if the children would recognize them as their parents.

Thanks to several adoption classes and the relationships the family formed with other parents, Nicole and Marcus felt more secure in their decision to choose open adoption. Having an open adoption helped Erica, their middle child, understand her identity and her place within the entire family.

Andrea, Erica’s birth mother, became pregnant at 19. She received a list of adoption agencies from a social worker after giving birth and chose Catholic Charities. The open adoption model appealed to her because she wanted Erica to know her family history, and why she was adopted. “She is going to know who I am,” Andrea said. “I knew open adoption was going to be to the best benefit for the both of us.”

Andrea selected Nicole and Marcus to be Erica’s family. During the first four years of Erica’s life, Andrea had frequent contact. However, when Erica was 4, Andrea, an active duty soldier, was deployed. Although Erica received pictures and videos, her memories of Andrea began to fade. Erica wanted to meet Andrea face-to-face. She also wanted to meet her younger birth sister, Cassandra, whom Andrea was raising. Andrea, too, realized that after such limited contact, it was time for Erica to see her again. With assistance from an anonymous donor, Andrea arranged for Erica and Nicole to fly to Georgia and meet her and Cassandra.

Erica was both nervous and excited about the meeting. She wondered if they would like her or whether they would get along. Meanwhile, Andrea felt nervous about meeting her birth daughter after so many years.

When the time came, Erica connected instantly with Andrea and Cassandra and was excited to learn about their lives. Cassandra was excited to meet a new friend, who she is extremely excited to see all the time. Thanks to an open adoption, Erica could make sense of her own identity and eliminate the mystery of what her birth family was like. More importantly, this particular meeting with her birth family strengthened Erica’s relationship with her mother, Nicole.

Nicole and Marcus trust that having each of their children know their birth family is an ideal situation. “We always believed there are never too many people to love your child,” Nicole says, “and Catholic Charities has been there throughout the entire process to support our family.”

(David Bethuram is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at

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