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Empty house

Politics | Hillary Clinton hails opening of adoption home that didn't take off

Issue: "Ghost streets," Feb. 27, 2010

An adoption ministry that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed as a home she helped open with Mother Teresa is no longer handling adoptions and its phone line is disconnected, though at the recent National Prayer Breakfast Clinton spent five minutes relating the story of its opening in her 30-minute speech.

At the Feb. 4 breakfast Clinton described Mother Teresa "beaming about what this meant for children and their futures," seemingly oblivious that the home is now defunct. She said she worked tirelessly to "cut through all the red tape," even though it appears that red tape prevented the work from continuing.

According to a neighbor who remains close to the nuns who ran the home, the adoption ministry didn't take off because the sisters weren't allowed to care for babies without medical personnel in the home. "I'm not sure the legal thing that came down upon them, but they realized they needed to expend their energies in another way," said Maureen Freshour, who pastors Chevy Chase Baptist Church next door with her husband and lives in a house nearby. The remaining three or four sisters have moved to another house in a suburban neighborhood in Maryland, where they are ministering to the homeless, Freshour said.

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"This has been a core issue-adoption-whether the home [Clinton] talked about survived or not," said Chuck Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Council for Adoption. "It's an issue she's been consistent on."

Clinton reminisced about the 1994 prayer breakfast, when she attended as first lady and Mother Teresa was the speaker. The Catholic nun delivered a blistering speech about abortion. "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want," she said. Mother Teresa called on her listeners to fight abortion through adoption.

The crowd gave Mother Teresa a standing ovation-but President Clinton and his wife, both pro-abortion, did not stand. Afterwards Mother Teresa asked to meet with Clinton.

"She told me that she knew that we had a shared conviction about adoption being vastly better as a choice for unplanned or unwanted babies," Clinton related. "And she asked me-or more properly, she directed me-to work with her to create a home for such babies here in Washington." The Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children opened in northwest Washington in June 1995, but it remains unclear whether it facilitated any adoptions.

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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