Holy Family Adoption Agency opens in South Bend

Pope Saint John Paul II once said to adoptive families: “To adopt a child is a great work of love. When it is done, much is given, but much is also received. It is a true exchange of gifts.”

A work of love. That is the message of the Holy Family Catholic Adoption Agency (HFCAA), a branch of which opened in South Bend only six months ago.

Originally founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2001, HFCAA is a non-profit, pro-life organization. The adoption agency aspires to imitate Blessed Mother Teresa’s call to provide adoption as the loving alternative to abortion. During the February 3,1994 prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C., Mother Teresa emphasized adoption’s crucial role in defending innocent lives: “I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption—by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives.”

Many might argue that adoption is too expensive and too difficult to pursue. HFCAA provides an answer. The agency offers an affordable service fee of $350 for adoption, which is incredible when compared to the much steeper costs of other adoptive agencies—anywhere from $2,500 to $40,000, depending on the adoption method.

HFCAA has also received much encouragement. They were welcomed by Bishop Kevin Rhoades to continue their work here in the South Bend/Fort Wayne area. The late Charles Rice, long-time Professor of Law at Notre Dame, also encouraged Mary McCuster Ball, Executive Director of HFCAA, to open a branch near Notre Dame’s campus to support students. Even farther out in New York, the Sisters of Life have sent birth mothers to HFCAA to receive help.

Still, less than 2 percent of unmarried mothers choose to put their babies up for adoption in the United States, according to the National Council for Adoption in Washington, D.C. This low adoption rate furthers the need for agencies like HFCAA that can offer adoption as an option for unmarried mothers.

On HFCAA’s website, one birthmother, Cesili, describes her positive experience with HFCAA, saying she now has great sense of peace knowing her son is happy with his adoptive family. In the video, she speaks of how the fear and uncertainty she had before coming to the adoption agency disappeared once she found the perfect family for her son.

Ball told the Rover that adoption is the missing link in the pro-life movement. “I am confident that Notre Dame students can be a powerful source in spreading the message,” she said.

Last month, hundreds of Notre Dame students marched for life around campus after the school’s trip to D.C. was cancelled due to a severe winter storm. Such a strong pro-life presence at Notre Dame can truly help foster a pro-life community in South Bend, especially if the Notre Dame community knows about HFCAA.

Ball herself has a strong connection to Notre Dame: her father, Patrick McCusker, was a professor of chemistry here for 33 years. In her extended family, there are more than 20 Notre Dame graduates. She graduated from St. Mary’s College in 1968 and has a law degree from the University of Detroit.

Ball said that Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, should be committed to spreading her agency’s message because “HFCAA is here to assist Notre Dame’s students’ efforts to proclaim a Gospel of Life by sharing the loving message of adoption.”

Mother Teresa, in her 1994 prayer breakfast address, said, “We always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: ‘Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.’”

The HFCAA plays a crucial role in fulfilling Mother Teresa’s words as it extends a loving hand to those in need of help, offering adoption as the key both to saving the lives of innocent children and providing peace of mind to their mothers.

Sarah Ortiz is a freshman studying PLS and living in Lewis Hall. She’s very excited for spring to come but will miss having a campus that looks like Narnia when it’s covered in snow (although it will probably snow more soon). Contact her at sortiz2@nd.edu.