Rick and Karen Santorum share the inspiring story of life with their special-needs youngest child.


Digital Version


On May 13, 2008, the Santorum family welcomed their eighth child into the world. Isabella Maria was born with a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18, or Edward's Syndrome. Only 10 percent of children with Trisomy 18 are born alive, and 90 percent of those children do not make it to their first birthday. Faced with these bleak statistics, doctors told the family to prepare for Bella's death. Instead, they chose to celebrate her life.

Over the next six miraculous years, the Santorum family adjusted to life with a special needs girl—and watched her transform the lives of everyone around her. In many days of sickness and joy, she became an inspiration to her community and, ultimately, to the nation. Bella’s Gift details the peaks and valleys, the joys and sufferings, and the incredible value of life with a special needs child. In a world that often measures worth according to usefulness, Bella’s story is a reminder that our real value lies in our capacity to love.


author 1

Karen Santorum

Karen Santorum is a former neonatal intensive care nurse and attorney. She is the author of two books: Letters to Gabriel and Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners. Karen and her husband of almost twenty-five years, Rick, are the parents of seven wonderful children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick, and Isabella. Her greatest role and love in life is being a wife and mother.

author 2

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, a native of Pennsylvania, was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2012. He served in the House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 and in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and is the author of several books, including the 2005 New York Times bestseller It Takes a Family. Rick's most important role and love in life is being a husband and father.

Contributor: Elizabeth Santorum

Elizabeth Santorum graduated magna cum laude from the University of Dallas. During the 2012 Republican presidential primary, she spent a year campaigning across the nation on behalf of her father, Senator Rick Santorum. Appearing on CNN, Fox News, NBC, and many other news outlets at twenty years old, she became one of the campaign's most requested speakers. Elizabeth has spent time doing mission work in Uganda, is currently a John Jay Fellow, and absolutely loves being a big sister.


  • Max Lucado

    Max Lucado

    pastor and best-selling author of Before Amen

    Life takes sudden turns. The horizon brings unexpected storms. The road we walk is prone to go from smooth to rocky in a matter of steps. No one is spared the difficult path. Rick and Karen Santorum weren't. The birth of their daughter Bella was a birth into a life they never asked to enter. Their faith was tested, their futures were rerouted. And, as a result of it all, they are different people. You know the Santorums as public figures in the halls of Congress and on the trails of a presidential campaign. You are about to know them as parents of a special girl.Their struggles, fears, faith, and fortitude -- it's all in these pages. I urge you to read this book. Life takes sudden turns for all of us. And we need wisdom from a family who has kept their balance and stayed on the road.

  • Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

    Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

    parents on TLC's 19 Kids & Counting

    We love the Santorum family and the way they love children like God loves children. Rick championed the bill to end partial birth abortion in America. The Santorum family has tirelessly fought to return our nation back to the Christian values our country was founded upon. Bella's Gift will inspire families and marriages to draw close to God through the joys and the hard times of life.

  • Sean Hannity

    Sean Hannity

    television and radio host, author, and political commentator

    I have gotten to know Rick, Karen, and their family really, really well over the years. This book is a love story from two parents who walk the walk as husband and wife, father and mother. In typical Santorum style, they pull no punches, but they will also pull at your heart and your soul.

  • Greta Van Susteren

    Greta Van Susteren

    Fox News Channel personality

    Bella’s father was a Fox News Contributor so I have known about this little child since the day she was born. She is nothing short of amazing—she has beaten all odds! This book is a touching love story about how this very challenged child enriched her family . . . and anyone who meets her. You will be enriched—and inspired—by reading her story.

  • Archbishop Charles Chaput

    Archbishop Charles Chaput

    One of the joys of being alive is to see love in action and the indelible mark it leaves on the world. Karen and Rick Santorum have written the kind of extraordinary book about their daughter with special needs that moves the heart and stays in the memory.

  • Michael G. Lamb M.D. and Kathleen G. Lamb M.D

    Bella Santorum's story is one that all medical professionals should read and profit from. Her and her family's struggle, besides being inspiring, is also medically enlightening. Too many members of her medical team assumed that her situation was hopeless. This was not so much from a lack of caring as it was a lack of knowing. A detailed, careful reading of the medical literature on children with Trisomy 18 reveals that these children do not have the dismal outcomes that some so-called experts claim. In rare disorders like Bella's, there really are no experts. The ideal professional will yearn to become the expert, seek the truth, know the facts, and assess the entire situation. He or she needs to know in detail all about the child, the medical condition, and the family situation. Only then is one able to really offer good care. Unfortunately, the tendency to 'write off'children like Bella is all too common in modern American medicine with its bottom line, dollars and cents, mentality. Hopefully this book will help to change some of that.

  • Mark Levin

    Mark Levin

    lawyer, author, and host of The Mark Levin Show

    Bella’s Gift is a must read. I’ve had the privilege of enjoying family dinners at the Santorum’s home with the entire family, including Bella. I’ve witnessed the love that she has for her family and they for her. Bella’s story reminds us that love requires sacrifice, an idea that is becoming increasingly lost in our selfish society. Read it. You’ll be moved, inspired, and encouraged by the story of this little girl and her heroic family

  • George F. Will

    George F. Will

    syndicated columnist

    The radiant truth about special-needs children, such as the Santorums’ Bella, is that they give to those around them something that we all need. This gift, that suffuses every page of this marvelous book, is the reminder that every life is sanctified by the capacity to receive and respond to love.


Media Inquiries

For press inquiries regarding Bella's Gift please contact
Emily Lineberger at emily.lineberger@harpercollins.com