This morning I read a blog post commenting on another mother’s article justifying her decision to abort her son because he had Down syndrome.
And then I made the mistake of reading the comments.
No one argued that the woman the article speaks of was right in her decision. I read of how children with Down syndrome are God’s special gifts and how the mother will have to live with her regret for the rest of her life.
Yet, my eyes focused on the words I hear so many times:
“I wonder how many babies are aborted and nothing was wrong?”
“These tests can be wrong. I know of women who were told their baby would have Down syndrome and their baby was born perfectly normal.”
Ugh- perfectly normal.
I often share my story about my pregnancy with Joshua and the prenatal tests. And the way I was presented with the “option” (double ugh) to terminate my pregnancy, even after I watched my baby son suck his thumb on the ultrasound.
And then – every once in a while…
There it is. And my heart lurches a bit as my ears hear the unspoken insinuation.
And while I am sure it is never intentional, my special-needs-mama-mind hears:
“It is more terrible for a child who is “healthy” to be aborted.”
“It might be okay if the child had Down syndrome to terminate the pregnancy – really.”
I used to say when I was expecting my children before Joshua, “I don’t care what (gender) it is, as long as it’s healthy.”
How things can change.
Joshua wasn’t born healthy. He has a genetic heart defect and open-heart surgery at 6 months old. Colds and RSV turned into pneumonia which turned into week-long hospital stays every couple of months for his first 3 years. He has numerous surgeries and all dental work – even fillings- must be done under anesthesia.
I read in another blog recently that “healthy” translates for most to “normal”.
My son is not normal to most. He was born with Down syndrome. He was later diagnosed with autism.
He doesn’t speak. He is not toilet-trained and currently functions at about an 18 month- old level.
My perpetual toddler.
His life swirls in a plethora of acronyms: His diagnoses include DS, ASD and CHD. He exhibits signs of SPD. He has an IEP, gets ABA and has been in both TMH and PLA classes.
Do these things make him and others like him not worthy to be born?
Why does the existence or even possibility of a disability qualify a child for extinction? Why was I not given this “choice” for my other “healthy, normal” children?
I had no “choice” and there was no “option”. No choice is easier.
God says to choose life. He created all life, therefore ALL life is worthy of existence.
My momma told me after learning Josh’s diagnosis, “You know, sometimes we just know too much.”
I’m thankful that I had no choice.
But when I read or hear things meant as encouraging, yet somehow it still suggests that a child like mine is still not quite as desirable or quite as okay as another.
And it breaks my heart.
Not just my defensive “that’s-my-baby-you’re talking-about” heart, but for the hearts of those who can’t see him and those like him for who they are and not just for what they will become.
I’ve had friends tell me that during their pregnancies, Down syndrome was suspected. And they “refused” it, even turning in a doctor’s office from pictures of children with DS. And that God answered their prayer.
I hear shouts of “Hallelujah” and Praise God!“ when someone gives a testimony that their child was thought to have DS and didn’t.
I feel a little offended and a whole lot of heartbroken that others can’t see that my son is just as much a miracle as that “normal” baby.
My daily miracles include holding a soft, padded little hand that doesn’t feel quite like any other. I breathe in his sweetness and kiss little shell-shaped ears. I still can nuzzle a sweet little neck. In return, he gives me head-hugs and pucker kisses and cheek- to cheek smiles for no particular reason.
I drink in the uniqueness that is Joshua.
And thank God for his wonderful, worthy life.