From Abandoned Baby to Ambassador of Love

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The boy known as “The ambassador of love” got an unlikely start in life—in a garbage bag.  His is a Down Syndrome adoption success story.

Edison Mateo Van Eerden was born in Ecuador, but he was abandoned, and discarded with the trash. A carpenter, who had walked out of his shop, noticed a garbage bag next to a dumpster was moving. Inside was a baby boy with Down Syndrome. A policeman brought the baby to a local orphanage for children with special needs.

That’s where Rachel and Jim Van Eerden found him while on a mission trip with two of their 10 children. On a tour of an orphanage, the Van Eerdens came across Eddie. Rachel said, “It was just love at first sight.”

The family decided to adopt him. It wasn’t easy and the process took years but Rachel says they never wavered in their decision to adopt a special needs baby from another country.

As they told the News and Record, the adoption took years and was full of challenges, but the family was sure of their decision to go through with a Down Syndrome adoption.

“Our faith played a huge role,” Rachel Van Eerden told the News and Record. “That kept us strong through the whole process.”

Parenting a child with Down Syndrome is not for the faint of heart.  It is especially challenging for a family with 10 other children. Rachel has heard it all before.

“Why would we want to take in a child with special needs? Of course, there are sacrifices. But what Eddie pours into us far outweighs any sacrifice.”

Eddie is described as a boy of pure joy, sharing hugs and smiles, and making friends wherever he goes. In the video, Jim Van Eerden provides an example of what Eddie pours into the family’s life and how he earned the nickname “the ambassador of love.”

“We were at church and in a crowd of people he made a beeline to somebody just so that he could hug this person. And at the end of that hug, the person started weeping. And something none of us had discerned. This person’s heart was broken and Eddie had discerned that.”

Eddie’s given name, “Edison”, comes from the policeman who took him to an Ecuadorian orphanage. His middle name, “Mateo”, is the Spanish word “Matthew”, the first book of the New Testament.  He’s living up to both.

“He points us to Christ,” says Rachel Van Eerden through tears. “I want to be a worthy mom of Edison Mateo Van Eerden’s life.”

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.