Adoption and Foster Care, Biden and Birth Rates, and the Mission of Motherhood

EWTN News in Depth dives deep into Catholic womanhood and its impact on American family life

Antonio del Ceraiolo, “Madonna and Child,” c. 1505
Antonio del Ceraiolo, “Madonna and Child,” c. 1505 (photo: Public Domain)

EWTN News in Depth looks at the physical and spiritual aspects of motherhood and the vital role of mothers in the Catholic Church. Host Montse Alvarado speaks with the Sisters of Life in New York City about their mission to help pregnant mothers choose life. This episode also looks at the Church’s critical role to help establish the U.S. foster care system and to provide continual support to families in need.

Motherhood and our Catholic Faith

  • Supporting Life: Catholic Charities assists vulnerable mothers facing unintended pregnancies through programs like “Sanctuaries for Life” (Washington D.C.)
  • Teaching Kids God’s Love: Catholic mothers reflect on the way many people are valued in utilitarian ways, but mothers love unconditionally.
  • Empowering Women: Religious communities like the Sisters of Life in Manhattan nurture and protect life by counseling and resourcing mothers, as well as praying, and fasting for them. “Motherhood really is a foundational piece of our charism,” says Sr. Magdalene Teresa.
  • Also in this interview: Learn how doctors have had conversions “on the spot” after seeing families choose life at a special perinatal hospital outreach.


A Mother’s Influence

What is the role of mothers in the Church today? What are their needs? Why are they vital in the faith of their children? Sample some key insights from News in Depth’s panelists:

From Rachel Ullmann (Executive Director, GIVEN Institute):

  • The “prescription” for many modern-day challenges facing women is contained in Pope St. John Paul II’s characteristics of the “feminine genius” — receptivity, sensitivity, generosity and maternity.
  • The world needs the total gift of self that women offer. It “doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are,” as St. Edith Stein said.
  • Single women have opportunities all around them to nurture those who are suffering and those whom God has given them to love.
  • Motherhood is leadership. It is a tremendous sphere of influence, community change, and personal fulfillment.

From Janeth Chavez (National Coordinator, Magnifica): 

  • All women are called to be spiritual mothers whether through biological motherhood or spiritual, which can include accompanying, praying for and teaching others.
  • This can take the form of an apostolate to pray for priests or another similar responsibility such as being a godparent.
  • The Lord can heal femininity and make women confident in themselves as women through their relationship with him.

Watch the segment:

A Report on Catholic Support of Adoption and Foster Care

News in Depth’s Kate Scanlon reports that the first documented orphanage in the U.S. was founded by Ursuline nuns in New Orleans around 1727 — before the nation was even formed. Fast-forward to 2019 and Catholic adoption agencies facilitated more than 2,400 adoptions. In this report, hear from adoptive parents about the process of discernment and from a Catholic Charities official who shares how adoption applications have shifted in a surprising direction lately, due to the pandemic.  

Birth Rates and Biden’s American Families Plan 

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that the U.S. birth rate dropped to a record low in 2020. The decrease was similar across every major race and ethnicity and most age groups. 

What’s Happening 

Births have been declining in younger women for years, as many postpone motherhood and have small families as part of dual income households. There were just over 3.6 million births in 2020, a 4% drop from 2019, which is the largest single year decrease in nearly 50 years. The biggest drop in births came in December 2020, roughly nine months after the start of the pandemic. 

Why It Matters

Meanwhile, a law called the American Family Act will expire this year, and the Biden Administration is developing its own version: a new set of laws to support families called the American Families Plan. The new plan includes several features designed to target the dropping birth rate:

  • Sustained tax credits for families with children;
  • a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program;
  • universal, free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

EWTN News in Depth invited two Catholic commentators to weigh in on the proposed policy and larger questions about feminism, motherhood and women in the workforce.

Dual Income Pressure. “I think we should be really wary of a feature like universal pre-K and childcare because that really incentivizes two income households and it builds on the assumption that everyone should be working.” — Gabriela Girgis, PhD (Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center)

No-Strings Tax Credits. “I agree that the refundable child tax credits are a good thing because those are sort of ‘twice neutral;’ those can go to a family whether or not they choose to put their child into a paid daycare program.” — Serena Sigillito (Editor of Public Discourse, the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute)

Catholic Nuance. “The Catholic Church is really unique and has something so important and so beautiful to offer the world because we simultaneously uphold the truth of complementarity and the fact that . . . some women have vocations to work outside of the home.” —Serena Sigillito (Editor of Public Discourse, the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute)

Also in this discussion, the panelists address reductionist language about motherhood, how new Catholic feminism relates to secular feminism, and how different generations of women are making decisions about their role in society. Watch the segment:

A Spiritual Mother for Migrants in Greece

Also on EWTN News in Depth, EWTN’s Alexey Gotovskiy follows one religious sister’s mission to help migrants in Greece. How her outreach is impacting families there and the special hand-made gifts she makes for the children.

Watch the full show: