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The Greatest Gift: Foster Care and Adoption

Updated: Apr 9

by Lynn DiChristina

The precious gift of life has been the cornerstone of my identity and has impacted all the major areas of my life. As someone who was adopted, placed a child for adoption, been a foster mom, and now an adoptive mom, one common thread binding each chapter together, has been Catholic Charities.  



I was born on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, my mother left the hospital without me. She told her family that I had been stillborn. I was placed in a foster home by Catholic Charities until I was old enough to be legally adopted.  


At six months and one week old, I went home to my forever family. My mom journaled every moment of my first few days. She talked about my dad and sister playing with me and my reaction to my new environment. My sister was adopted a year earlier, and I cannot begin to express how much having an adopted sibling meant. We would often read our journals as if they were the most precious thing in the world to us.  



Placing a Child for Adoption  

Smiling woman holding baby
Lynn and her baby

When I was 21, I was living in Texas and working at a restaurant. When I found out I was pregnant, my boyfriend and I had one lawn chair and slept on the floor. I lived on popcorn, rice, and grilled chicken. There were some nights that I barely made enough money to pay for gas for work. I realized I had nothing to offer this new little life inside of me. My mothering instinct was kicking in and I wanted everything for my baby. 


Adoption was a difficult decision to make, and I had no idea the barriers I would run into. I was young, and naïve, and I didn’t know where to turn. I found Catholic Charities in the phone book and went to talk to them and in no time, they helped me get medical help and provided counseling. I was so relieved and gratefully accepted their care and concern.  


That summer, I gave birth to an eight-pound, three-ounce beautiful baby boy. They showed me his angelic little round face, his perfect little body right down to his 10 sweet toes. Words cannot express the love and connection I felt at that moment. I named him Michael. I felt a strong need to mother him and decided I would be his mother until he was given to his new mom. I am forever thankful for those special moments. 


Adult woman and her adult son hugging
Lynn and Michael after being reunited.

In 2013, I received a letter from Catholic Charities, telling me that Michael wanted to connect. What a gift! Michael and I spoke via email and then phone. Hearing his voice filled my heart with joy. That July, 24 years after his birth, I met Michael once again. We have spent the last 10 years sharing so many “me too” moments and special adoption feelings. The emptiness I felt when I left the hospital without him all those years ago has finally been filled. I am so blessed and thankful that because of Catholic Charities, I can hug Michael often!  



Not long after giving up Michael, I met my husband, and we started our family. I had three beautiful children and each time I looked at them, my curiosity grew. I was so happy to see pieces of me in my children, but there was so much I didn’t know. Where did my son get those blue eyes? What medical information was I missing that might be important? I needed answers.  


I knew my last name at birth and the city where I was born. I went to the phone book and found the names and addresses of thirteen families with the same last name. I mailed them all a letter. It wasn’t long before I received replies. Some were kind, others not so much. Then the sixth letter arrived. The first sentence jumped off the page, “I have forwarded your letter to your birthmother.”   


Eventually, I received a letter. The first sentence read “I have been waiting for you.”  My birth mother shared a lot of information and told me that I had an older brother and sister. She closed her letter saying that she would not write again. I was disappointed but the letter opened the door to a beautiful relationship with my brother Dean. We remained close until he passed away at age 52. His death was difficult, but it was also a time of renewal as it brought my birth mother back into my life. We reconnected and developed a relationship. I was by her side as she took her last breath. We had come full circle—she brought me into this world, and I escorted her out.  



Foster Mom  

Much of my life was possible because of Catholic Charities, so when I saw an advertisement that Catholic Charities needed foster families, I knew that was the next step in my journey. I could make sure that babies received the love that I wanted Michael to have before he was placed in his forever home.    


Some of the best experiences in our life are tied to loving and caring for foster children!  Some of the babies were with us for only a month, and others were with us for quite some time. The longer we had them, the more difficult it was when they left. But it was always a joy to describe our foster child to his/her new mom. On adoption day, it was an honor to place her baby into her arms. Our Commonwealth Catholic Charities social worker, Tami, can confirm that there was never an adoption day when I did not cry. Fostering has been a special gift in our lives.  

Woman kissing toddler on the cheek
Lynn with her son whom she and her husband adopted in 2007



Adoptive Mom  

On Halloween in 2006 I received a call to pick up a baby whose birth mom had placed him with CCC. This little angel was six weeks old. I bathed him, swaddled him, and gave him a warm bottle. I looked at my husband and said, “Honey, this one’s a keeper.” 


His foster journey was a tough one for us. There was a long and difficult legal battle. Eventually, my husband and I sat down with both birth parents and asked if they would allow us to adopt their baby. It was a hard decision for the biological father , but eventually they both agreed. In May of 2007, our fourth child joined the family. He was baptized on the same day that we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  


Gift of Life 

A woman with her four grown children
Lynn's children, including Michael and the son she adopted.

Life is the greatest gift. The act of placing a child or adopting one is the best present someone can ever bestow. I am forever grateful for the help and guidance of Catholic Charities who wrapped those gifts so beautifully for me!  

Learn more about foster care and adoption.

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