(LifeSiteNews) — An American Catholic family of five spoke about the value of every human life after sharing their story about adopting their sixth child, a then-three-year-old boy with Down syndrome from Serbia.
“Rex completes our family,”Catholic husband and father Matt Effhauser wrote in a piece published by Fox News late last month. “It feels as if he has always been there, just another one of our incredible children who adds such light to our home. He has made our ‘perfect’ family more perfect than we could ever have imagined.”
Effhauser said he and his wife, Sarah, started the process to adopt after much prayer and discernment. He said his wife had shared with him “a special, persistent longing of her heart to adopt one of the thousands of children overseas who were orphaned simply because they had an extra chromosome in their DNA [Down syndrome],” and after the birth of their fifth child asked him to commit the idea to prayer.
He said his wife’s resolve, combined with the words of a priest who asked the challenging question: “What is going to be the thing in your life that defines you, your ‘yes?’” inspired him to agree to the notion and embark on a grueling, yearlong effort to secure the funds, prove eligibility, and ultimately travel to Serbia to “bring our son home.”
Effhauser admitted to having conflicting feelings about the idea of adoption in the beginning.
“We already had five incredible children, whom we loved with all our hearts. And growing up in the 80s and 90s — where the culture emphasized having ‘healthy’ children and a ‘perfect’ family – I felt unprepared to embrace the responsibilities of adoption, much less the adoption of a child with a so-called ‘disability,’” he said.
Even when the adoption was underway, he said he “felt a tinge of sadness” and “guilt” mixed in with the “excitement, nervousness, gratitude, disbelief, joy,” upon reflecting that “we could have easily missed out on this most precious moment” had he not accepted the inspiration of his wife and priest.
Effhauser said he and Sarah finally got to meet their new son, with his “innocent, glossy brown eyes, and the biggest, happiest smile,” on Valentine’s Day two years ago. The family immediately fell in love.
“This was the very child that God had set aside for us to mend a broken bond, the child who we would spend the rest of our lives loving and caring for,” Effhauser said.
Now five years old, Rex is “thriving,” his adoptive father said.
Effhauser reflected that his original fears about taking care of a disabled child had been “deeply flawed,” and said that kids “like Rex are so much more than the very small part of them that is considered a ‘disability.’”
Their joy, humor, lovingness, energetic spirit, and dignity as human beings are what define them, not a label,” the Catholic father said. “They, like every other child, deserve boundless love.”
“It is devastating to think that here in America, and especially in places like Eastern Europe, children are tragically aborted every day because of a potential Down syndrome diagnosis,” Effhauser wrote.
As LifeSiteNews has reported, pregnant moms are often encouraged to abort babies based upon diagnosis of Down syndrome. An estimated 60-90 percent of babies diagnosed with the disability in the U.S. are killed in the womb, and the practice is common around the world. That’s in spite of the fact that people with Down syndrome overwhelmingly describe themselves as happy, and medical advancements have led to striking increases in the life expectancy of people with the condition.
“Parents are led to believe that ‘hard’ equates to ‘bad,’ and these lies prevent beautiful daughters, sons, siblings, and friends from entering the world,” Effhauser said.
And the Effhauser family has no regrets about making Rex a part of their family.
“[W]e can confidently say that the beauty of adoption will be our best ‘yes’ of all time,” Effhauser wrote.