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Open Adoption:
Double the Love

  • Linda R. Sexton

Holy Cards For the Dead—What is That All About?

Did you ever go to a funeral home and pick up a holy card that sported the name of the deceased person you are there to honor? This is a tradition in some Christian faiths and these cards often contain pictures of Jesus or the holy family or favorite saints on one side, and a picture of the deceased with a comforting prayer on the other side.

Growing up in the Catholic church, my sisters and I would collect these cards when relatives died. But we never did anything with them—they just collected dust in a drawer. Recently I finally understood the purpose for those holy cards. During the Sunday service at my Episcopal church, the pews were unusually full. The school year was now in full swing and with summer fun behind us, many people were coming back to church regularly. I was sitting in my coveted end spot in a very full pew when an elderly lady arrived late. She moved slowly and supported every step with her cane, so of course I scooted over to give her that end seat.

At a quiet time during the service, she reached into her purse and pulled out her personal, small prayer book. Sitting so close to her, I could not help but notice her crepey, trembling hands. She opened her prayer book and in the middle were a stack of those holy cards. She began to look at each one, turning them over carefully, and obviously praying for each person. It hit me—this woman has outlived so many of her loved ones. She looked so peaceful and I just knew as she prayed for each person, she was also thinking of fond memories. I thought—now that is a great use for those holy cards.

So, what does this have to do with open adoption? For us, open adoption has meant that in addition to our own close and extended family, we have additional extended family with my children's birth families. We have a relationship not only with my children’s birth parents, but in some cases with the entire birth family, including birth grandparents and great grandparents. Seeing this elderly lady in deep reflection and prayer reminded me of my daughter Sofie’s birth great-grandmother, Clara. Clara’s faith is profound, deep and certain. Like the lady who sat next to me in church recently, Clara has outlived so many loved ones—not the least of which was a son who passed away as a young adult—as well as her beloved husband. The last time we visited with Clara, she told Sofie and me that her deceased husband came to visit her in her room at the nursing home where she now lives. She was sitting in her comfortable rocking chair and she looked up at the doorway and there he was, plain as day. He was shining with a bright smile and warm eyes. And he was the handsome younger version of himself she married so many years ago. Sofie and I have no doubt that what Clara saw and related to us was absolutely true.

This is the same woman that prays for us each and every day. And since my daughter is the oldest of her great-grandchildren, she says her daily prayers starting with Sofie. And she prays not only for Sofie, but for our whole family—Sofie’s sibling Finely, my husband and me. Our open adoption has given Clara to our family as a spiritual advocate for us. I think that is a pretty special gift. Who would not want to have this great-grandmother on their side praying for them each and every day?

If you want to know more about Open Adoption, please sign up on my web site and I will send you the 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Open Adoption at the Start of my Journey.

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1 Comment

Oct 01, 2023

This is a very interesting blog.



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