*By Mary Rezac
With an abortion rate of 92 percent, babies with a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome are the human equivalent to an endangered species.
An oft-cited reason for abortion is the claim that no one would be willing to adopt these “unwanted” children.
But Father Vander Woude, the lead pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Va., seems to have proven the “unwanted” claim as unfounded.
When the priest learned of a couple from another state that was planning to abort their unborn child, who had been diagnosed with Down syndrome, he made them a deal.
If they delivered the baby, he would find them a safe and loving adoptive family.
Father Woude had to act quickly within a narrow window of time – the woman was already about six months along, and lived in a state that prohibited abortion past 24 weeks.
Enlisting the help of a volunteer from the parish, a plea was posted on the church’s Facebook page Monday morning. The Washington Times reports:
“There is a couple in another state who have contacted an adoption agency looking for a family to adopt their Down Syndrome unborn baby. If a couple has not been found by today they plan to abort the baby. If you are interested in adopting this baby please contact Fr. VW IMMEDIATELY,” the post read. “We are asking all to pray for this baby and the wisdom that this couple realize the importance of human life and do not abort this beautiful gift from God.”
When the church office opened that morning, the calls poured in, all day, from across the globe. Father received over 900 e-mails in regards to the child. A seminarian was brought in to field calls for three straight hours.
Of all the couples offering to adopt, the options have been narrowed down to three, which the parents are reviewing with the help of an adoption agency.
“It was a beautiful witness all day long that so many people wanted this child and believed in the dignity of that child — Down syndrome or not,” Martha Drennan, a church staff member, told the Washington Times.
Thankfully there seems to be more glimmers of hope regarding attitudes toward Down syndrome emerging. For example, on the same morning that this story broke, CNN aired a story about Tim’s Place, a restaurant run by a 26-year-old with Down syndrome that serves breakfast, lunch, and hugs in New Mexico.
The Washington Times mentioned a website where families dealing with Down syndrome can find help, community, and facts online: the International Down Syndrome Coalition.
And thanks to Father and Facebook, one more child has a chance at life.
As Martha Drennan said:
“I think it is a wonderful use of social media, that word can so quickly get all over the country and even to foreign countries and that the people who see the value of life are stepping up and saying, ‘I will take that baby and raise that baby as mine.’”
I think my favorite almost-Saint, Blessed John Paul II couldn’t agree more:
“Communicators have the opportunity to promote a true culture of life by distancing themselves from today’s conspiracy against life and conveying the truth about the value and dignity of every human person,” (Evangelium Vitae, 17).
May we learn from Father and continue to use social media in a positive way to touch hearts and save lives, one child at a time.
For today, thanks to this story:
*Mary Rezac is an intern with CNA. Next fall, she will be a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is studying Journalism and Education.