Sunday, May 3, 2009

Adopting The Rooster Took Real Guts

When Debra Richardson (show at left), executive director of Holy Family Adoption & Foster Care, welcomed Kathy and me to the 60-year-old agency's annual garden party in Pasadena on Saturday, she cheerfully noted that Holy Family doesn't get as many referrals (which is to say, adoptable children) from south Orange County as it once did. She offered to come down to St. John's one Sunday and drum up some business.

That's how this dedicated professional promotes life -- one precious starfish at a time. The keynote speaker, a poised, plain-spoken single mother named Michelle, told us she'd already decided to abort her second pregnancy when she found her way back to church and then to Holy Family, which let her study the background of a number of prospective adoptive families. Having briefly worked in a California Highway Patrol office, she know she'd found a home for her child the moment she saw the photo of a young CHP officer and his wife. She had us with that story. Then she said both she and her father had independently fixed on Hope as the baby girl's birth name. Holy Family, Holy Spirit stuff indeed.

As Michelle spoke, J. Jon Bruno, Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles, stood beaming. Holy Family's fundraising tea was taking place in his and Mary Bruno's back yard. Our diocese became the non-profit agency's ecclesiastical partner three years ago after it ran afoul of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese over whether gay and lesbian parents should be permitted to adopt children. Rome said no; and so Bishop Bruno invited Holy Family to join our diocesan family. Both he and Mary serve on the board, along with several of his priests and deacons, alongside other dedicated volunteers, some of whom have served for 25 years or more. Board chairman is Kathy's and my old friend from his days at Whittier College, Joe Zanetta.

Above right are Bishop and Mary Bruno with Kathy (left) and the Rev. Cn. Ed Sniecienski, the bishop's chaplain and a Holy Family trustee, who says Kathy and I are his favorite Republicans. He keeps equivocating about who's first. Typical Episcopalian.

In visiting the Brunos' gracious home for the first time, Kathy and I hoped to encounter a certain feathered friend. Almost four years ago, Roy Wojahn, husband of my former St. John's colleague the Rev. Karen Ann Wojahn, bought her a ceramic rooster, festively garlanded with hay and a red and white ribbon, at a fundraising rummage sale. He hid it in her office. She hid it in mine. I put it under the altar at St. John's when she was celebrating Holy Eucharist. She put it in my car. I arranged for Roy to wrap it and put it under the Wojahn Christmas tree in 2006. She brought it to a dinner party Kathy and I threw for the first federal director of the Nixon Library, Tim Naftali, and hid it in the guest bathroom.

Before I could think of my next move, Mary Bruno, also among our honored dinner guests, learned of the escalating rooster ruckus and put it to an end by offering to give it a happy home. Typical Episcopalian! She also collects roosters. And on Saturday in Pasadena, there it was, hay, ribbon, and all, in an honored spot in her kitchen.

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