Almost a month ago I noticed that someone had come to our blog by way of searching, “people who love down syndrome kids”.
I had this fantasy there was a couple who found out they were going to have a baby who had Down syndrome and went searching for people in the world who loved someone with Down syndrome. It was such a plaintive search – people who love Down syndrome kids.
I was hoping this mythical couple read our blog and thought – not only, “I could do this but what a gift this child will be.”
My husband and I only know the gift of Down syndrome. I know that sounds new agey and oh-so-evolved but when it’s your kid it’s just the way it is. In an earlier post I mentioned that my mom asked, “We love his Down syndrome, right? Really, what’s the alternative?
Several times in the last almost two years women in their 70’s or so have come up to me and said things like, “They are beautiful people, right?” I then find out they are speaking from personal experience. They have or had a son or daughter who had Down syndrome.
A few times this interchange has included the question, “Did you know when you were pregnant?” It pulls me up short every time. It’s because there is something implied in that question that is fraught with significant personal and political overtones. There is something in that question I have been afraid to talk about. These women who approach me did not live in a time when Down syndrome could be diagnosed prenatal. These women are asking me if I had a choice.
And – that choice is the reason I run in to more mothers of people with Down syndrome in their 70’s than younger women. That’s because approximately 90%* of pregnancies where prenatal testing has determined the fetus has Down syndrome result in abortion.
Yes, I said it. I said, “Abortion”. Now, I will say it, “Pro-choice. Yes, I am pro-choice.” But, I find being pro-choice doesn’t make me feel better about the fact that a whole lot of people don’t love Down syndrome kids.
* 90% figure from New York Times
I cannot believe you blogged about this– my husband and I were just talking about this very statistic, and the ethical question of aborting a pregnancy with a child with Down’s Syndrome. We don’t have a child with Down’s, and we’re both pro-choice, so neither of us felt it was appropriate to judge. We do, however, have a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Hardly the same level of intensive care-giving, but it has its own deep worries, challenges, and priceless delights. I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I’d also like to add that every person I’ve known with Down’s is incredibly charming, entertaining, and nearly always sweet. I enjoy their finicky ways and rich humour. Have you ever seen the French film _The Eight Day_? So outstanding, I highly recommend it. Love your blog!
Thank you for commenting! The place I see that statistic more and more is on blogs written by people with Down syndrome. I thought what would I say if our son asked about that when he was older. My alliance to to him. To not address this is to judge him as less than other humans. When in fact I think he is better than most humans.
I will check out the film. Thanks!