A disclaimer. I’m not here to tell you who to pick for President. And I’m certainly not trying to tackle the ever raging pro-life/pro-choice debate. My focus is on a woman who went against the grain. The grain that has become the norm in our society – without many of us even noticing. Until now.
I’m sure that many of you read my previous post wondering “why is she sharing this?” and “why now?” I believe that we all have moments in life that are defining. Moments that are life changing. You may not even know it at the time, but you look back later and know. Well that was one of those moments in my life. And I think it helps to know where I have been so that you can better understand where I’m going.
So now with a bit more of our history under your belt, I feel like I can finally answer the question that so many have asked our family recently:
“Are we excited about Sarah Palin’s nomination and the recent national attention that has been given to Down syndrome as a result?”
She has captured the attention of our family, and for an obvious reason – her youngest son Trig who was born in April, has Down syndrome and our youngest son Charlie, who was born one year ago, also has Down syndrome.
So the answer is yes. But last week was still an emotional and challenging time for me. Here’s why….
I think Sarah Palin was a surprise pick for many. And the national media doesn’t know what to do with a woman who knew that her baby had Down syndrome, continued her pregnancy and even goes on to call her son a blessing. Honestly, I think most of America doesn’t really know what to do with the information either. And really, who can blame us? As a country we don’t know much about Down syndrome.
Why don’t we? Nine out of ten women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome abort in the United States. Today, almost 70% of women (of all ages, not just above the age of 35) receive prenatal testing. So at this current rate – an increase in prenatal testing, coupled with an increase in abortions of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome – our country is on it’s way to exterminating all children with Down syndrome.
These statistics existed before Charlie was born, but I didn’t know them. Today I know them by heart.
It’s funny, until it happens to you it isn’t relevant.
Here’s the thing. I have written and re-written this post many times. I started working on it way before Sarah Palin was on the news each night. I have written a convincing argument explaining the moral implications of a society determining that certain individuals are “disposable” in our our world. It was full of statistics, articles, and sources to back my words up. I have also written an argument pleading the case from a Christian perspective. Detailing why it isn’t up to us to determine who gets to live and who doesn’t.
And yet, I realize those aren’t the words that I am supposed to share. I’m not going to change any minds through either argument.
What I can do is continue to raise my son Charlie – who has Down syndrome – just as I would any child of mine. Charlie is a living example of the opposite side of the spectrum that most OB’s focus on when discussing a prenatal diagnoses. While doctor’s can explain and analyze heart issues, cognitive delays and other challenges, they can’t quantify a smile, a hug, or a squeal of laughter. Our family can put a face to the love and joy that is not mentioned at the doctor’s office.
We can live as an example. Sharing our son and all of the love and the joy that he has brought to our family and those around us.
I want to be clear – I’m not looking for any accolades. I don’t want to be told how wonderful it is that even though we knew Charlie could have Down syndrome we continued with our pregnancy. Because you know what? That isn’t the truth. It wasn’t a decision we made. Because it wasn’t something for us to decide.
And I’m not here to judge either. I just want to raise awareness.
So I ask that you realize that there is another side of the issue the next time you read an article about Down syndrome and prenatal testing in the news.
Before Charlie I might not have paid attention to the debate. Today, my heart breaks. Good or bad, it is impossible for me not to take it personally. To not view those statistics as “9 out of 10 women would rather not have a child like Charlie.” My Charlie. But Sarah Palin would. She did – she was the one. And I am trilled to have someone in a national position be the woman that was the one.
And there you have it…my very long answer to a simple question.
*Today the New York Times wrote an interesting article about Palin, her pregnancy and the birth of her son Trig that is worth the read.