Eleven years ago this coming May, I had a “therapeutic” abortion when I was four and a half months pregnant with my only son, a Down’s syndrome baby—James Kent. Well-meaning professionals impressed upon my husband and me how we were rescuing our son—and ourselves—from a life of needless pain and suffering...
Our family doctor told us James Kent would be our shadow for the rest of our lives in choosing to birth him. We didn’t realize my son would be our shadow for the rest of our lives in choosing to abort him.
BTW, our own family's story is up on that site as well:
In February of 2001 my wife were expecting our second child. We had gone for the usual routine ultrasounds, and were waiting for the standard commentary from our obstetrician. What we heard instead was that the baby appeared to be having some difficulties. There were signs of congestive heart failure. It was explained to us that there were several possible factors which might be causing this. One factor was the possibility of a genetic abnormality. We consented to having an amniocentesis – a genetic test. The results of the test confirmed to a high degree of probability that our second child had Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21. We were asked if we would like to terminate the pregnancy.
Our first reaction to the news was akin to grief. As parents we want our children to be healthy, happy and we desire them to grow up to lead full lives. We already had a wonderful healthy daughter, and we felt grief that this baby was already suffering from a heart condition in the womb. We felt a sense of confusion - - we were on a steep learning curve: Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome, ASD, VSD. We felt there were so many new terms being thrown at us we hardly had time to digest the information, let alone deal with the reality of it.
We chose to have the baby. It was in some ways an easy decision, and in some ways very difficult. It was easy in that we loved this child – we wanted to be parents, we wanted siblings for our first daughter. And we both felt that our responsibility as parents began when we chose to get pregnant. It was difficult in that we had no romantic illusions about what parenting this child would mean. It would mean sacrifices – physically, emotionally, perhaps financially. What would this child’s future be? Would be caregivers for the rest of our lives? How would this impact our marriage, our family, our careers?
As we look back, a big part of the choice had to do with the difference between love and fear. I work in a major Canadian university with a large teaching hospital. I have many friends in professional fields of health care, education and counseling. As we became more educated about Down Syndrome, and got in contact with people in all of those fields, we began to ease the fear that can easily overwhelm parents of children with disabilities. I am also an ordained Anglican priest – our faith in God is part of our lives and we trust that Jesus and his way of life are part of our decision making. As we look back on that choice between love and fear, we recall the saying from the Christian Scriptures that “perfect love casts out fear”. We believe that God is on to something there: that so many of our important decisions in life have to do with the choice between love and fear. We could choose to love this child (no matter what), or choose to be afraid of the future, of how this person would change and affect our lives. In choosing to have the baby, we did not think God would magically “rescue” us from difficulties now or in the future, but that he would give us the courage to learn how to love more deeply through whatever the future may hold.
Today Sarah Joy is 4 years old; she will be attending the local preschool this fall with her neighbourhood friends. And the journey has been both difficult and rewarding in many ways. Such things can really only be lived, not explained. We have been through surgeries and specialists, developmental and education programs, and we continue to love her through everything. She is a great little sister for Emily, and she is a caring big sister to Adam. She loves music and dance, she loves to garden with us in the back yard, and she loves to go for walks with Grandpa’s dog. She is mischievous in her own way, and often collaborates with her older sister in sneaking treats from the kitchen cupboards. She has taught us something about the difference between love and fear, and continues to live up to her name – she is full of joy, and shares it with those around her.
Update: Sarah Joy is now 7 and entering Grade 1