I read an article that says that with prenatal genetic testing, performed before the 24th week of gestation that indicates a fetus will potentially be born with Down’s Syndrome, means that 90 percent of such parents have/or will choose to abort that pregnancy.
This means that less children are being born with Down’s Syndrome, it is a disorder that can affect the bodily functions of the person affected, they can have thyroid disorders, mental retardation, heart defects, reflux, ear infections, sleep apnea and some obvious facial cues such as a round face with small chin, and eyes that are almond shaped with an upward slant at the outer corners, they may have shorter limbs than the average person along with poor muscle tone. Many people are fearful that they can not handle raising a special needs child who is affected by Down’s Syndrome because of ignorance of the disorder.
I wonder if by doing these prenatal genetic tests, parents are unprepared for the outcome of information. Finding out that your unborn child has a disease/disorder/illness is only the first step. What happens after that information is presented to the parents? This information has to be dealt with in some means or fashion. Sometimes there are procedures that can be performed on the unborn child to improve it’s health and well being; other times there is nothing to be done. This is when some people decide to choose abortion as opposed to raising a child with special needs. You can learn more about this disorder here: http://www.ndss.org/ or here: http://www.nads.org/pages_new/resources/down_orgs.html
Abortion is a forever decision…there is no do over. What happens when one half of the parents wants to choose life and one wants to abort? Or one wants to risk surgery or medical intervention and the other parent disagrees? These issues can cause unbelievable stress and frustration…not to mention spiritual unrest when faced with a life and death decision regarding their child when it goes against their religious beliefs. Time is often the catalyst for a hasty decision. There were examples in the news story that talked about women/couples that made the decision for abortion…only to have future interaction with an individual with Down’s Syndrome, only to say later that if they knew more about the condition maybe they would not have chosen abortion.
Every life has value…fear is such a strong emotion that I think it can cause people to make a decision about abortion that they may live to regret. If a person or couple truly feels that they are ill equipped to raise a child with Down’s Syndrom than I personally believe they should bring the child into the world and allow it to be adopted. There is no shortage of people who wish to adopt and to parent a child…many people feel a calling to parent special needs children. There are some people who consider the child born with Down’s Syndrome to be a “gift”; or to be endowed with an extra-ordinary ability to love unconditionally. We should all be born with such a condition which causes us to love unconditionally!
My husband and I are the proud parents of six adopted children. We have 3 girls and 3 boys. Each person has their own gifts and blessings. Some of those children are special needs children; and some are not. We have children with special needs issues ranging from bi-polarism, to ADHD, to learning disabilities, to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, some have behavior related issues. One is homeschooled, one is in special education classes, one should have been, and some have benefitted from regular educational services. Some are adults living their own lives very successfully. Others struggle in some areas of day- to- day activities. A couple have to be supervised or encouraged every waking moment of the day to help keep them focussed on being the best person that they can be. They are all loved, supported and have brought much to our family.
Each person has their abilities and their challenges. None of them did anything to deserve the life they were born into; they had no control over the very beginning of their life. Yet, each of them must strive to have a loving, healthy, productive and happy life. It is possible. Some adaptations may be required for some of my children to have an independent life; but, it is possible. Since it IS possible, we will do whatever we can do to help make that happen.
Adoption is a complex thing. It serves many purposes and yet…it has an ability to wound, to heal, to lift up, to destroy, to save lives, and to shuffle lives. There are always imprints of a life that was supposed to be; melded into the life that is gifted and aborbed into another family. There are moments of: celebration, sadness, regrets, and purposeful choices; adoption is a wonderfully, painful mixture of the emotional buffet of life! It is a parent’s responsibility to seek excellence for the quality of life for their children.
Our family is special and unique; I bet your family is too! We have had many successes as a family; as well as, some twists and turns that were unexpected. The dream of a new parent doesn’t usually include the expectation that things could turn out differently from the dream of a picture perfect family. A birth family or an adopted family does not get to choose from an ‘ala carte menu, of challenges it may or may not face. As most parents would say, we live and breath for our children; and yet, we are not ashamed to say at times…we wonder…did we do the right thing? Our children didn’t get a choice in life in which family they would grow up in. There are shades of grey for each person…balancing the pros and cons of adoption.
Whether a child is brought into a family by birthing it into the family, or by adoption…the child is received with awe, with excitement, and with hope for a beautiful future. There are unexpected situations at times regarding health issues, behavioral issues, attachment issues, emotional issues and even loyalty issues. Those things and more can affect the foundation of a family.
Many families are jolted to learn that their child has special needs or that their adopted child has issues that will affect them and their family for years to come. It is a difficult time for parents and other siblings to struggle to learn about the issues facing the family…because…none of us go it alone.
Family is a support system all unto itself…but, sometimes the issues can seem overwhelming. That is the time that families need to reach beyond their boundaries that are self imposed, because many do not understand what we face as families with challenges. Don’t let that stop you from reaching out. You just might be surprised by the impact that you could have on another…or vice versa.
Really, for many people going through the shattered reality that their family is not following the dream of perfect completion…there is a sense of isolation and a perceived lack of understanding from others who have not walked in the same pair of shoes.
So, is there a need for support and information for families who have experiences that can mirror each other? Is there a wealth of understanding that is untapped because we have not had the opportunity to join forces and absorb techniques and encouragement from one another? I think there is. I have heard so many comments that would break your heart. Families that are under so much strain that they threaten to break and disintegrate under the pressure. If one person or family can benefit from sharing and encouraging each other here; then, the blog will have served it purpose.
Do you know someone who has things to share? Do you know someone who could benefit from a little support or information? Do you know someone who is facing a future with a special needs child and is struggling? Do you know someone with rose colored glasses that is thinking about adoption; but, isn’t willing to accept anything less than perfection? Bring them to a place that will enlighten them, encourage them, and embrace them! Families should be celebrated and enjoyed…not everyone is blessed with people to share their love with.