CCUSA Highlights Post-Katrina Adoption Services Miracle
January 2017 – Catholic Charities USA
Ten years ago, hundreds of thousands of people fled New Orleans to escape Hurricane Katrina. Among them were an adoption specialist for Catholic Charities in New Orleans, one of the birthmothers she was working with, and the adoptive family the birthmother had just chosen for her baby. With phone lines down and no communication between them, the adoption was sure to fall through, but in a miraculous way, they found each other in Houston and the adoption was put back on track.
Danna Cousins, adoption program director at the time for Catholic Charities in New Orleans, had evacuated ahead of Katrina to Houston. She was in a hotel with little to do, so she called Catholic Charities in Houston to see if she could help. By then, the agency was overwhelmed with Katrina survivors. Danna was put to work immediately, helping her fellow Crescent City neighbors with their emergency needs.
One day, while working with a client, Houston’s adoption director brought Danna a surprising message – “I think we have one of your birthmothers here.” Sure enough, it was the birthmother she had been working with. The woman knew that if she went to a Catholic Charities agency, someone could help her. And here she was in Houston.
“I was astounded when I saw her,” said Danna. “We had lost all contact after the hurricane.”
Back in New Orleans, before Katrina, the birthmother had just chosen a family for her child, but there had been no chance to let the family know or make an introduction.
But God’s hand was at work – even in the midst of disaster. For Danna had met up with the chosen adoptive family at the same hotel she was staying at. When they heard the news, they too were astounded, but so excited.
Danna immediately started working with the adoptions team at Catholic Charities in Houston to get things arranged, and the birthmother and adoptive parents finally met and had time to get to know each other.
Shortly after, Danna, the birthmother and the adoptive family returned to New Orleans. There were still challenges to overcome, especially with communications, but Danna was able to stay in contact with the birthmother and make the final arrangements. About two months after Katrina, a beautiful baby was born and placed with a very happy adoptive family.
Reflecting back on the experience, Danna knows God had a hand in bringing it all together. “It was a miracle. There is no other word for it. It was totally out of our hands, and we couldn’t have worked it out if we had tried.”
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