What is the Spiritual Adoption Program?
It is very simple. Participants in the Spiritual Adoption Program pledge to pray for nine months for a baby in danger of abortion. While this child will remain unknown to his or her ‘spiritual parent’, God knows who the child is. Many people have found that naming ‘their child’ helps to keep them focused on the reality that their prayers are helping to save a particular baby from the harm of abortion. This can be done in a parish or school setting, with age appropriate materials.
What is the Purpose of the Spiritual Adoption Program?
The goal is threefold: 1) to encourage prayer for those contemplating abortion, that they will respond to God’s grace and welcome their child into life; 2) to educate adults and children about the development of the pre-born child; and 3) to promote a way that families can engage in fruitful discussions with their children about the dignity of human life.
Who can participate?
Church members, students, prayer groups, and anyone concerned about abortion and willing to pray for babies in danger of abortion, “that they might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
If a parish or Catholic School intends to use a form of Spiritual Adoption, the pastor of the parish or principal of the school has final say over how that specifically will look. The materials below are merely suggestions of resources and a possible structure and can be adjusted to fit specific needs.
Who benefits from the Spiritual Adoption Program?
Everyone! While it is not always possible to see the particular effects of prayer, we know through Scripture that God wants us to pray, and we know by faith that He answers all prayers. The educational aspect of the program is beneficial to people of all ages, including children. Churches and schools are encouraged to display the very gentle and appealing full color posters that both depict and describe in words the baby’s development each month. There is no mention of abortion on the posters. Some obtain enough sets of posters for each classroom and/or entrance or exit to the school or church.
Where can I get resources to help promote this program?
The Archdiocese of Baltimore developed the “Little One” poster series which is available for order online.
Pledge Cards are available for print.
Samples of Mass Prayer Intentions are available for use in parishes.
How does the program work?
There are a number of ways a parish or a school can implement this program. It can range from being very simple to more involved depending on the goal of the parish or school and the resources available. Below are some suggestions for how it might look in a school or parish.
First, decide how long you will run the program. Some possible suggestions are:
- Begin in January and end in October during Respect Life Month.
- Begin in August and end in May for Mothers’ Day.
- Begin in October during Respect Life Month and end in July.
- Use a shorter timeframe depending on your goals.
Suggested Simple Process
In a Catholic School:
At the beginning of the program the principal makes an announcement asking the students to pray for children who are in danger of abortion.
- Distribute prayer cards, if desired, to all involved.
- Invite the students to give their baby a name.
- Recite the prayer on the prayer card each morning before beginning class.
- For the following nine months (or a period of time that fits into the school year), display one poster per month in a prominent place so everyone can see how ‘his or her baby’ is developing.
In a Parish:
At the beginning of the program the pastor makes an announcement asking families to pray for children who are in danger of abortion.
- Make prayer cards and pledge cards available in the pews during Mass.
- Invite people to fill out their pledge cards and take them home to put in a special place that will remind them to pray for their spiritually adopted child each day.
- For the following nine months (or a period of time that fits into the school year), display one poster per month in a prominent gathering place so everyone can see how ‘his or her baby’ is developing.
Suggested Detailed Process for Parishes
- Two weeks before the program is to begin place an initial announcement in the parish bulletin inviting parishioners to participate. View a sample here.
- One week before the program is to begin include information regarding this program in the verbal announcements made by the priest or lector. Announce that the program will begin next week and further details are available in the bulletin. Have the written announcement from the previous week’s bulletin printed in this week’s bulletin as well.
- Print pledge cards on pink and blue paper to be made available to parishioners in the bulletin and/or at designated places in the church or narthex. Parishioners should be directed to the cards. Suggested uses for the pledge cards include:
- Provide additional pledge cards and writing instruments at the end of each pew to parishioners who may forget to bring their pledge cards.
- At the beginning of the program invite parishioners to place their pledge cards in a special basket in front of an image of the Blessed Mother (or some other appropriate place) in the church.
- Bring the basket of pledge cards up during the Offertory to be placed near the altar.
- Two weeks after the program begins place a thank you note in the bulletin for those who are participating and to let the parish know how many individuals and families are participating. Also pledge cards and a basket should be available for those who pledge later.
- Every month place the appropriate Little One development poster (purchased from the Archdiocese of Baltimore) in a prominent gathering space so everyone can see how the baby is progressing. Also, place an announcement in the parish bulletin as a reminder (B/W or Color and in Spanish) for parishioners to continue praying for their spiritually adopted child along with information on development of the unborn child.
- Make copies of “thank-you” notes written from the baby’s perspective to be placed next to the posters each month.
- At the conclusion of the program host some type of parish celebration. Below are some samples of things to try:
- A simple social hour (or baby shower) after Mass could be planned for those who have been participating for the past nine months.
- Parishioners might also be invited to donate new baby items (or make a monetary gift) that would then be delivered to a maternity home or pregnancy center that provided alternatives to abortion.
- Purchase a crib or pack-n-play with monetary gifts and have students and families fill it with gifts for expectant mothers.
- Simply celebrate with a ‘birthday party’ at the conclusion of the program and provide pink and blue cupcakes to parishioners.