Hundreds of families in the Washington, D.C., area and beyond are seeking to adopt a baby with Down syndrome after a priest's urgent request when he learned the young parents were planning to abort the baby.
The story published Tuesday in The Washington Times
sparked the outpouring after the Rev. Thomas Vander Woude of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Va., intervened in the couple's decision to end their pregnancy by offering to find someone to adopt their unborn child.
The church social-media manager helped Woude get the word out online, and the urgent call for an adoptive family quickly went viral.
The priest was under a tight timeline to find certain adoptees because the mother was nearly six months pregnant, and Virginia has restrictive abortion guidelines past 24 weeks.
"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,” Woude wrote.
The plea garnered an overwhelming response — dozens of phone calls by early morning and more than 900 emails. Three prospective families have been selected and are meeting with the parents and an adoption agency.
A seminary student who helped field calls says he was inspired by the outpouring of support.
David Dufresne, who plans to become a priest next year, volunteered to help the overwhelmed church staff take calls.
"I was taking calls for about three hours straight, just talking to people who are willing to adopt this little baby they never knew about until that morning," Dufresne told the Times.
"I mean, all day long, just receiving phone calls from people who were so generous, and within a couple minutes made a life-changing decision. I was really inspired by the goodness of people and what they would do to save a life," he said.
Church staffer Martha Drennan said calls came in from all over the world, which was heartening and a display of the Internet's power.
"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,'" she said.
"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," she said.
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