I remember first reading about down syndrome in my developmental psychology class as a sophomore in college. The book showed a picture of a 2 year old with down syndrome. I had heard of down syndrome, but I had never met a child with it. This was the first time I had looked at a child with down syndrome, and it broke my heart. Four years have passed since that day, and generally, I had forgotten about down syndrome. Then, my wife and I joined a church here in Louisville, KY. A lady in the church, Wanda, brings a little girl named Emma who has down syndrome. She is five or six and quite adorable. She has the typical down syndrome characteristics: slanted eyes, shorter stature, stubby hands, inability to solve more complex problems, hearing disability. A few weeks ago I went into the nursery to help watch her. I’ll be very honest, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t feel uncomfortable because she looked different, nor because she had the mind of a two year old. What made me uncomfortable was my inability to communicate with her. She was learning sign language, a language of which I am wholly ignorant. As I sat there and looked at picture books with her, helped her put puzzles together, and helped feed her I began to realize what an awesome opportunity I had. Emma has a tough home life and so Wanda, who is her neighbor, keeps her and tries to give her the extra love and attention she needs. I am growing to love this little girl dearly and look forward to seeing her all the time. I’m so glad she’s a part of this world and I’m so glad that God has given me the opportunity to love her. I’m even more thankful for the example of Mrs. Wanda.
Why do I say all this? First, I want to encourage you to embrace children who are different. You may not feel you can communicate with them; but, every child recognizes warmth, a smile, and love. Second, I want to react to the news media and to a blog I recently read regarding Trig Pax Palin. Trig Pax Palin is the 4-month-old son of Sandra Palin, running mate of John McCain and governer of Alaska. The media has expressed outrage over Sarah Palin’s ‘choice’ to keep Trig. Medical professionals call her a hypocrite for agreeing to genetic testing and then deciding to keep the baby. They call her a hypocrite because she made her choice but stands against other women who may want to make a contrary choice. Read the article here.
I wish to re-define the terms. This is not Sarah Palin’s choice, or any other mother’s. I shared the story of Emma to remind us all that ‘choice’ is a euphemistic word concerning the sanctity of human life. I am so thankful that Sarah Palin had this baby. She is a shining example to all mother’s nationwide that any baby can be kept, cared for and loved. She is a shining example of the pro-life movement, and I am glad we have her on our side. Sarah Palin now has five children, which in and of itself, is a miracle. The average number of offspring per couple is below 2 now. This statistic marks one of the many reasons pro-choicers are outraged by a governer keeping her down-syndrome baby. We Americans are selfish. Down syndrome is tragic, for the baby. Yet, they call it tragic for the mother as well.
Listen to what one doctor has to say: “Rabid anti-choice activists have called that trend eugenics via medicine. But try telling that to a mother who Sure, its hard. That doesn’t grant any woman the ‘choice’ to murder a baby. Children, special needs or not, are gifts from the Lord and are special stewardships from God. Psalm 139 proclaims the awesome truth that every human being as knit together by God in the mother’s womb. As John Piper says in the video below, “Don’t mess with that!” I am concerned for America. We are so concerned with our own personal welfare, our ‘rightful’ comforts that we can’t imagine the possibility of having to care for a special needs child. The pro-choice group notes that special needs baby are typically abused more and so, they infer, women shouldn’t have them. There reasoning is this: “That child is going to have a horrible life, so let’s just end it for them.” They argue its salvation for the baby, when the way I see it, they are only wanting to save themselves. As Christians, we need to promote special needs and promote a culture that is thrilled to care for these little gifts from God. The only reason a special needs baby will have a harder life is if the mother also daily ‘chooses’ her own needs and rights above her babies.
We need to praise Sarah Palin for her keeping her child. I can guarantee one thing: its tough for her. Also, remember that for Sarah Palin, this wasn’t a choice. Trig Paxin is a gift from the Lord and a stewardship given to the Palin family, and praise God for them recognizing that. Sarah Palin has convictions that don’t give her the opportunity to make a ‘choice.’ I doubt she prayed for a special needs baby, but she has clearly exemplified the way a mother should react when this gift is given. She has wholly embraced the job and I’m sure she will raise her newborn son and lead our country well at the same time. Sarah Palin is a heroine of life, a heroine of conviction, a heroine of special needs families all around the world.