Who knew? There is actually a patron saint of adopted children. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, since there are patron saints for just about everything --cab drivers, abdominal pain, cake makers, motorcyclists, pawnbrokers, etc.
Zoe told me about the patron saint of adopted children at dinner tonight. Her class has begun studying saints, and each student was to select a saint and do a short report about him or her. They read their reports today, and Zoe said one of her classmates read that his saint was the patron saint of adopted children. I asked Zoe what she thought when she heard the report, and she said, "I looked around the room to see if anyone knew I was adopted, and I looked at Mrs. M [her teacher] and she winked at me!" She wasn't at all disturbed by it; in fact, she seemed pretty happy about the whole thing.
She couldn't remember the name of the saint, so out of curiousity I looked online -- it's Saint William of Rochester. And why is he the patron saint of adopted children? Well, the first biography I found had only one reference of any kind to adoption: "He went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his adopted son David who murdered him near Rochester, England." Huh? Being murdered by your adopted child makes you the patron saint of adopted children?! A second biography expanded on it, saying that he found a child on the doorstep of the church when he went to Mass, and he adopted him and taught him his trade (baker). The bio goes on to say, "David wilfully misled his benefactor and, with robbery in view, felled him with a blow on the head and cut his throat." Another charming note, the son was known as "David the Foundling."
So what in this story makes William the patron saint of adopted children? William might have been "touched by adoption," as the cliche goes, but "killing blow by adoption" doesn't seem to have the same uplifting spirit! And "benefactor?!" Ah, yes, adoptive parent as generous savior. And the "rescued" child as quintessentially ungrateful.
Makes it pretty clear what his story is supposed to be -- an object lesson in gratitude. There's a real "don't bite the hand that feeds you" vibe here. I don't think we'll be emphasizing him in any way in our household. And I'm happy that the school report didn't share the whole of the story.