A Beacon of Hope and Compassion

This article was posted on: July 8, 2024

The Light of Catholic Charities Mission

The Light of Catholic Charities Mission

In a world where hardship often casts its shadow over the most vulnerable, a guiding light of compassion and service exists—Catholic Charities. With a rich history rooted in the teachings of Christ, Catholic Charities stands as a testament to the enduring commitment of the Catholic Church to serve those in need and uphold the dignity of every human life. 

Founded on the principles of love, mercy and justice, Catholic Charities is a vast network of organizations spread across the globe, each dedicated to providing essential services and support to individuals and families facing adversity. Catholic Charities is committed to embodying the core values of compassion and solidarity. Their services range from feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless to offering counseling and advocating for social justice.

At the heart of Catholic Charities’ mission is a deep-seated belief in every individual’s inherent worth and dignity. Regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic status, Catholic Charities welcomes all who seek assistance, offering a helping hand and a listening ear to those in need.

One of the services provided by Catholic Charities is adoption and foster care. Recognizing the importance of family and the profound impact of a loving home, Catholic Charities is committed to uniting children with families through the adoption process. Committed to ensuring the best interests of both children and birth parents, Catholic Charities provides support and guidance every step of the way, from the initial inquiry to the finalization of the adoption.

Building a Family

Like many other couples, when they were married in 1971, Rita and Daniel Betker hoped to quickly start a family. They were disheartened when they discovered that the odds were against them to have a baby naturally. Rita said that they “didn’t want to spend our lives alone; we wanted to spend them with children.” They explained their deep compassion and desire to share their life and values with their children, a wish that many Catholic couples share.

Their emotional and spiritual trial began when they learned about their infertility and realized that their vision for the future was changing significantly.

Daniel, Rita and their boys Tim (7) and Jon (4) in their early years.

After learning this new information, they adjusted their plans accordingly. They chose to apply for adoption with three agencies: The State of Wisconsin, Lutheran Social Services, and Catholic Charities. After waiting for many months, they received a call from Bill Schmelzer of Catholic Charities. At that time, they did not realize the significant and pivotal role that Bill and Catholic Charities would play in their journey toward starting their own family.

Welcome Timothy

It’s important to understand that the journey takes time and effort, much like many other paths in life. After years of waiting, in November of 1978, Rita and Daniel finally received a letter bringing the news they had been longing for. The letter asked if Rita and Daniel would be interested in meeting an infant currently in foster care and possibly bring him home. A few weeks later, Catholic Charities arranged for a meeting between the Betkers and this baby on Nov. 30, 1978. Rita and Daniel decided to keep the meeting a secret from their families to avoid getting their hopes up before the adoption was finalized.

Timothy James Betker

Rita and Daniel brought him home that same day and named him Timothy James. The blessings and joy that came because of that boy are more than they can count, but to say their families were surprised is an understatement. “Without the prayers of all our family, the adoption would not have happened. Trusting in God helped us get through all those days/weeks/months of waiting,” Rita explained. The immediate support of those around them was evident as their family planned a baby shower and filled their son’s room with gifts.

Tim and his family: Bev, Grace, Caleb, Teresa, and Sam. Veronica and Abby are in the Military, stationed in North Carolina.

The Continued Support of Catholic Charities

In the months after the Betkers decided to take Timothy home, Bill Schmelzer from Catholic Charities kept in touch to see how things were going. He visited their home several times while they were temporary foster parents.

In June 1979, Rita, Daniel and Timothy went before a judge, and the adoption was finalized. It was a perfect day. Bill knew they were going before the judge that day, so they stopped in to see him after the case was completed. Bill’s support during the adoption process was not only that of a resource but also that of a friend, as he played a pivotal role in helping them through the process. The joy they all felt when a child was welcomed into their home is indescribable, and it’s something that can only be experienced and shared.

The Betker Family Complete

Knowing this was their call to share their life and give children a home, the Betkers requested to be put on the adoption list again to give another child a home. However, the second time around, the adoption process involved more waiting than the first time. Months and years passed by, but they didn’t lose hope. Finally, after three years and two months, Bill contacted Rita and Daniel in January 1982. They left Tim with his grandma, saying they were going to go file their taxes. But they came home with baby Jonathon, who was born on Dec. 23, 1981. “Now our family is complete,” described Rita happily.

The Betker’s son Jon and his family: Shelly, Nolin and Brody

Bill frequently visited the Betker home to ensure that everything was proceeding smoothly and took the time to familiarize himself with their family of four. Both Bill and Catholic Charities served as a constant source of support for the Betkers, always ready to lend a guiding hand and provide reassurance.

The Betker Family Today

The Betkers credit Catholic Charities with the support and compassion that made their present life a possibility. Rita and Daniel now live on the same farm where they raised their family, having moved down the road for a period before returning. Their two sons, now 45 and 42, are married and have children of their own. With the addition of their daughters-in-law and eight grandchildren, their family has grown to a total of 14 members. Rita expressed her gratitude, saying, “We are truly blessed and grateful for all that Catholic Charities, especially Bill Schmelzer, has done for us to make us a family.”

The family wants everyone to know that “adoption is always a choice that a mother can make,” says Rita Betker. Despite the world’s standards and beliefs, Catholic Charities and other organizations provide a truly beautiful service that can give children a chance and allow a young married couple to be parents—the chance to have a family of their own to share their lives with.

Story by Eleanor Peabody
Published in the July/August 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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