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Words and deeds

Adoption | Hillary Clinton continues to hail an adoption home she helped open with Mother Teresa that has since closed its doors

WASHINGTON-An adoption ministry Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed as a home she helped open with Mother Teresa no longer handles adoptions and its phone line has been disconnected, though at last week's National Prayer Breakfast Clinton spent five minutes of her 30-minute speech relating the story of its opening.

Last Thursday Clinton described Mother Teresa "beaming about what this meant for children and their futures," seemingly oblivious that the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children in northwest Washington, D.C., is now defunct. She said she worked tirelessly to "cut through all the red tape," although it appears that red tape prevented the work from continuing.

According to a pastor at the church next door to the home's former location, the adoption ministry failed to take off because the Roman Catholic nuns who ran it weren't allowed to care for babies without medical personnel on site. "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 along with her husband, David, pastors Chevy Chase Baptist Church and lives nearby. Freshour has stayed in touch with the nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order who ran the home and said that the remaining three or four sisters have moved to another house in Washington, where they are ministering to the homeless.

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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."

During her speech on Thursday, Clinton reminisced about the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast when she attended as first lady and Mother Teresa was the speaker. The Roman Catholic nun delivered a blistering speech about abortion, saying, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want." Mother Teresa then called on attendees to fight abortion through adoption: "Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child."

The audience that day gave her a standing ovation-but President and Mrs. Clinton, both pro-abortion, did not stand. Afterward, Mother Teresa asked to meet with Hillary Clinton and they went to talk behind a curtain on the stage, sitting on folding chairs, Mother Teresa in sandals even though it was winter.

"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 last Thursday. "And she asked me-or more properly, she directed me-to work with her to create a home for such babies here in Washington."

Clinton followed through and set up a home for unwanted babies in Washington in just over a year, no small feat in a city that was known then for its inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy. The Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children opened in June 1995 in the district's affluent Chevy Chase neighborhood to house eight pregnant mothers and their babies-but it remains unclear whether it facilitated any adoptions.

I called the Missionaries of Charity in Washington, a worldwide Roman Catholic order established by Mother Teresa. The nun who answered the phone said she couldn't give her name because they aren't allowed to talk to the press. She did say, however, that the sisters who are in the order now were not in the order when the adoption home opened, so she wasn't sure why it closed. She added that the order sold the Chevy Chase house in 2002. "We work with the poor and we didn't have any work there because it's a rich neighborhood," she said. The sisters, she added, are now working with the homeless and those with AIDS in a more transitional neighborhood in the northeast section of town on Otis Street.

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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