Did Facebook save an unborn child?
Hundreds of adoption offers flooded in after a Catholic church posted this message on Monday.
July 11th, 2013
11:47 AM ET

Did Facebook save an unborn child?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - On Monday morning, a Catholic parish in Virginia posted an urgent message from its priest on Facebook.

A couple was pregnant with a child diagnosed with Down syndrome, said the Rev. Thomas Vander Woude of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Virginia.

If they didn't find a couple willing to adopt the unborn child by the end of day, they would abort it, according to the priest.

Within hours, hundreds of couples had contacted the church with adoption offers, according to Holy Trinity staffers.

The parish had to bring in extra staff to field the phone calls flooding in from around the world, including the Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Canada, said Martha Drennan, the parish's director of Adult Faith Formation & Liturgy.

In addition, Vander Woude received upwards of 600 e-mails, Drennan said. "It has to be well over 1,000 couples who were interested in adopting the baby," she said.

"It's really beautiful," said Vander Woude. "Here you have this unborn babe with handicaps and all these people almost immediately offer to take care of it. It's just really a testament to the goodness of people."

READ MORE: Dad's confession: I almost left my disabled daughter

On Tuesday, a local adoption agency presented three prospective families to the pregnant couple. Drennan said the church is not disclosing the name of the adoption agency, which screened prospective adopters, to protect the biological parents' privacy.

"It was so exciting to see all those people stepping up to give that baby a voice - a life," said Geraldine Erikson, a member of Holy Trinity who posted Vander Woude's urgent message on the church's Facebook page.

Erikson, who manages the church's social media accounts, also said she sent an e-mail blast to 140 families on a Yahoo discussion board for homeschooling families

Dozens of Catholic Facebook groups, as well as international media, have jumped on the story.

"I was doing a search this morning and saw some articles in languages I don't understand," Erikson said.

The Catholic Church teaches that all life is sacred and strongly advocates against abortion – but the story is even more personal for Vander Woude. The 47-year-old priest has a brother, Joseph, who has Down syndrome.

The priest's father, Thomas Vander Woude, died in 2008 after diving in a septic tank to save Joseph, who had fallen in while walking in the backyard.

"With our experience with my little brother Josie, this is something that is close to my heart for sure," said the priest.

More than 70 priests attended Thomas Vander Woude's funeral at Holy Trinity Church, including his eldest son, Thomas Jr., who officiated at the Mass and delivered the homily.

It's not unusual for families to find children with Down syndrome to adopt on social media,  said Diane Grover, founder and president of the International Down Syndrome Coalition. In fact, several of the coalition's board members have adopted children after seeing a Facebook post, she said.

"It's a beautiful way for people to get the information out there," Grover said. After checking to make sure the story was true, the coalition helped spread the word on social media about Vander Woude's message and received hundreds of calls in return, she said.

"Its a good eye-opener for our society to see that so many families value a child with Down syndrome like any other child and want to raise them as their own," said Jon Coleman, president of the National Down Syndrome Society.

"People with Down syndrome are making great strides in living more independently, attending college and working. With the proper support, they can do so much if given the opportunity."

READ MORE: Breakfast, lunch and hugs at Tim's Place

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Catholic Church • Church • Faith • Faith & Health • Virginia

soundoff (807 Responses)
  1. personal training long lsland

    Within hours, hundreds of couples had contacted the church with adoption offers, according to Holy Trinity staffers! That is insane thank god
    for good people.

    February 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
  2. davdfoo

    cheap Baltimore Ravens jerseys nba basketball jerseys for sale nba jerseys for sale cheap クロエ 財布 There are strategies you can use, to avoid ending up having to deal with the nasty effects of human papilloma virus. This article explores those strategies.

    wholesale cheap jerseys store ゴヤール Let us all admit as ladies and members of the "" we are all susceptible to blaming our own selves in any issues or problems that occurs in the life of our partner. Actually it is the man who should be blamed for such petty acts and affairs .Supposedly a couple married for say 10 years face trials it is wise to work out or solve the issues and then restart the relationship .In case one cannot forgive the other it is wise to also end the relationship for the sake of saving oneself becoming emotional depressed. Take time and think about the positive side of life after breaking up from the betrayal guy. It is true many feelings rise up and the mood swings are pretty bad .It is also good to opt for family counselors who would definitely be the right person to show as wells guide the right way of thinking and acting in such crisis times of life The right thing would be to take control of one’s emotions and act prudent enough because the life of not one but two are at stake in problematic affairs.

    バッグ http://www.mylovecal.com/pages/default.aspx

    November 26, 2013 at 2:52 am |

    Do you want your ex back? Do you lost your job and want it back or are you looking for one? Do you need increase in your business? What is it that you are looking for? Here is your chance to get it. Contact Ogidi Spiritual Spell Temple today and your worries are over. Ogidi is a spell specialist, tell him your problem and you will get the solution in 5 days. Contact email: ogidispiritualtemple@gmail.com

    Good luck to you.
    Spiritual Specialist,
    Tell: +2348121884412
    E-mail: ogidispiritualtemple@gmail.com

    September 9, 2013 at 8:08 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.