An Unwanted Baby With Down Syndrome Saved From Abortion

A young couple planning to abort an unborn baby diagnosed with Down syndrome: That’s a hard thing for many of us to hear, but especially for those of us who have children with special needs. The woman, whose identity has been protected for privacy reasons, was close to six months pregnant. You can’t help but wonder what if it you were in a position of not being able to have the baby you were carrying, and you already knew he had disabilities. Would anyone have agreed to take your baby? What if your beautiful child had never come into this world?

This story has a heartening ending. Actually, hundreds of them. After Rev. Thomas Vander Woude, the lead pastor at a church in Gainseville, Virginia, heard about the couple’s plans to abort their unborn baby, he made them an offer: If they delivered the child, he’d help them find an adoptive family, as reported in The Washington Times.

A volunteer at his church posted a message on its Facebook page:

What happened, as one church staff member recalled it: “All day long, we were receiving phone calls from people who wanted to adopt the baby. Father Vander Woude has gotten over 900 emails in regard to the baby.”  The calls came in from around the country as well as around the world. The family is said to be reviewing potential families with the help of an adoption agency.

This story is hardly the norm: The most current research shows that for every baby with Down syndrome, another is aborted. This spring, North Dakota became the first state to outlaw abortion for fetal conditions like Down syndrome. While some advocates applauded the bill, others such as Amy Julia Becker expressed concern. As she wrote for Atlantic magazine’s site, “I do not support the North Dakota law banning selective abortion because it places the burden of the problem of selective abortion solely upon the shoulders of the pregnant woman, and because it outlaws abortion even in the case of prenatal diagnoses that point to significant physical suffering for the baby in question.”

I believe in women’s choice to have an abortion. But I am not straight up pro-choice for aborting babies solely because they have disabilities, and wish more of these parents-to-be would consider the option of letting their babies be adopted. One solution that’s hard to argue with is more support for parents who get a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Parents First Call, run by the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, is a program for new and expectant parents of babies with Down syndrome. Callers are connected (typically within 24 hours or less) with trained parent mentors who listen, answer questions and provide information. They can be reached at 800-664-6372. Other groups offering this service:

Down Syndrome Association of Northern Charlotte: 704-916-9871

Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia: 703-621-7129

Project Carson, part of Family Voices of North Dakota, is geared toward new parents who receive a prenatal or at-birth diagnosis including Down syndrome and other conditions; 1-888-522-9654

From my other blog:

8 ways pretend play can help kids with special needs

A moment of serious special needs mom bliss

On relating to a dog with disabilities

Image of mom in field with baby via Shutterstock

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