Nick and Carrie Davis with their daughters, Elisabeth and Sophia Marie. (Courtesy photo)

Nick Davis used to come home to an empty, silent house each night. No wife or child to greet him. No sound at all except his own heartbeat.

That all changed when he married Carrie and the couple adopted two baby girls.

“Now I come home and I hear all of that, the laughter, the voices — my house is now a home,” Nick said.

He and Carrie are now parents of two little girls, 3-year-old Sophia Marie and 18-month-old Elisabeth.

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It was the Joining Hearts adoption program through Catholic Charities Community Services, one of the 70 ministries and organizations supported by the Charity & Development Appeal, that brought Elisabeth into their lives.

Teresa Doud, pregnancy specialist with Joining Hearts, said Catholic Charities supports life-affirming options for women who are pregnant. The program has an educational focus that helps pregnant women discern whether they should parent their child or place him or her with an adoptive family.

“The goal is for them to be able to make the best decision that they can make for themselves and their unborn child,” Doud said. “The women that we work with that choose adoption, we want to know when they make that ultimate decision after the child’s born, that they feel 100 percent comfortable with their choice.”

Joining Hearts requires a couple to be married three years before they can be placed on a waiting list for adoption. The Davises had agreed when they were going through marriage prep that if they didn’t conceive a child naturally within the first year, they would begin the adoption process.

With their older child, they had to hire their own attorney and deal with a lot of uncertainty. And though the process had its own blessings — they were present for Sophia’s birth — the Joining Hearts program was ultimately an easier one.

“We were so grateful Catholic Charities had everything in place,” Carrie said, especially with regard to the social worker who walked alongside the birth mom and help her make a free decision as to what would be best for her and her child.

“Catholic Charities has that foundation of the dignity of life of each person involved: What’s best for the child, what’s for the birth mom and what’s best for the adoptive couple. They have the right priority,” Carrie said.

Having already adopted a child, the Davises weren’t sure they needed to take two whole Saturdays in order to participate in the Joining Hearts educational program for adoptive parents.

“They did such an amazing job preparing for what adoption looks like,” Carrie said. There were discussions with other couples who were hoping to adopt. They talked about their fears and making their expectations realistic, putting themselves in the shoes of the birth moms and what they were going through.

The Davis family welcomes Elisabeth to their home for the first time. (Courtesy photo)

Doud said it takes courage for a woman to choose adoption for her child. Some of the birth mothers in the program have had involvement with Arizona Department of Child Safety. When they get pregnant, there’s a pretty good chance the child will go into the already crowded foster care system where they may bounce from one home to the next. Adoption, on the other hand, provides permanency for the child from day one.

“For the child, it creates a legacy of love — adoption can’t happen without love. These women place because they love that child so much, they want the child to have the best life that they can have and they know that at this point in their life, they’re not able to provide that.”

Funding from the CDA keeps Joining Hearts staffed with Doud, an adoption specialist and program manager. Though adoptive families pay an all-inclusive fee that covers everything from education to legal services, it’s not enough to cover the costs of running the program.

Those who donate to the CDA are helping to support pregnant women and families who long to adopt children.

“Through their support of the CDA, they are bringing joy to adoptive families, all these couples that are on the waiting list,” Carrie said.