Pro-Life prayer at work in Spiritual Adoption

By Becky Aubut
Anchor Staff

SANDWICH, Mass. — Did you know a baby has a heartbeat three weeks after conception? Did you know that two months after conception, a baby has all five major areas of the adult brain present and can respond to touch? Did you know that a baby at two months has the lines of their palm print and footprint already engraved in their skin?

Umberto Castiello of the University of Padova in Italy reported unborn babies have the ability to interact as early as 14 weeks into the pregnancy: “We conclude that performance of movements towards the co-twin is not accidental; already starting from the 14th week of gestation twin fetuses execute movements specifically aimed at the co-twin.”

There is a lot of argument about when does life begin, and while some may say that a fetus is just a blob of tissue, parishioners at Corpus Christi Parish in East Sandwich counter that misconception the only way they can — through Spiritual Adoption.

“We begin nine months ahead of Christmas so that we have the whole gestation period,” explained Corpus Christi parishioner Patricia Stebbins. “We invite parishioners to Spiritually adopt an unknown child who might be in danger of abortion, and to pray for that child all throughout the nine months. We put these children in the hands of the Blessed Mother; she knows where they are.”

Initiated in 1991, this simple yet effective program provides an opportunity for children, teens, adults and senior citizens to prayerfully intercede on behalf of moms and unborn babies threatened by abortion. Participants Spiritually adopt a baby known by God to be at risk of abortion by pledging to pray the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen prayer daily for nine months. The goal of the program is threefold: encourage prayers for babies in danger of abortion and for their parents; educate adults and children about the development of babies in the womb; and provide material assistance to mothers in need through a “baby shower” or “birthday party” at the conclusion of the program.

“We started several years ago. It was something we had read about and thought it was a good idea,” said Stebbins. 

Each participating parishioner can decide what gender their child is, fill out a little form naming their child, and put it in a designated basket. They then take a beautiful prayer card with a picture of the Blessed Mother and a baby, to pray that the unknown child will be saved and born into a loving family.


Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

I love you very much.

I beg you to spare the life of the preborn child that I have Spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.

There is also a set of large, heavy-duty, full color posters placed around the church, said Stebbins. Each month a new set goes up to correspond with the developing fetus at each month’s gestational stage to allow parishioners to see how their baby is developing.

At eight weeks the baby has started moving around. Nerve cells are branching out forming primitive neural pathways; breathing tubes now extend from his or her throat to developing lungs. At 10 weeks, the embryo has completed the most critical portion of development. His or her skin is still translucent, but tiny limbs can bend and fine details like nails are starting to form.

At 16 weeks gestation and based on what the scientific community knows today about the development of a baby, the body is fully formed and the fingers and toes have fingerprints and nails; is about five inches long and weighs about three ounces and is about the size of a large avocado.

Also at 16 weeks, the baby is moving about and may grasp for the umbilical cord, suck its thumb, and is capable of making facial expressions and kicking at the amniotic sac. The heart and circulatory system and the urinary tract are fully functioning, and the blood is pumping through its tiny veins. The baby is inhaling and exhaling the amniotic fluid through the lungs. The eyes are in the proper position, and the baby can see straight ahead and blink his or her eyelids. The genitals have formed, and in the case of a girl, the uterus has already developed and the ovaries are in the proper place.

“[The posters show] that your baby’s heart is beating, or that it shows your baby is moving; it’s a whole sequence,” she said. “We put information on the bulletin board on how the baby is doing at that point. The people who do this may be a single adult, or a family will do it. A lot of the teen-agers get a kick out of praying for their own Spiritual child. You’ll see parents stopping and showing their children how their baby looks now. That’s a lovely thing for kids to be able to see.”

In November, right before Christmas, the parish hosts a baby shower where all the parishioners are invited to attend on a Sunday morning after Mass. Balloons line a decorated table and everyone enjoys a big cake. People bring gifts or checks for donations.

“We have a bounty of baby clothes and money,” said Stebbins. “We give to Abundant Hope in Fall River or we give it to Friends of the Unborn in Quincy; we distribute to where [the donations] are given to the mothers. It’s a fun thing to do because everyone looks forward to a baby shower.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion 43 years ago in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, more than 58 million unborn children have lost their lives. Each one of those abortions is a tragedy, not just because an innocent child died, but because of the lasting impact the abortion itself had on the mothers of those children.

“We know Mary really cares for all these poor children who have been massacred,” said Stebbins. “It’s 58 million now; that’s really a tragedy. It’s enough to populate California, Pennsylvania and a few left over. It’s awful. This is a product of a society that has lost touch with God. It definitely is, and we have to turn this around.”

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