Unexpected Joy From An Unapparent Beauty

I remember reading with heartbreak last year a Mail on Sunday (June 14, 2015) report by Jo Macfarlane of the soaring number of abortions performed in the UK when blood tests suggest that a baby in the womb has some kind of genetic abnormality. In her report, Macfarlane drew attention to a Department of Health revelation that the abortion of babies found to have Downs syndrome or other abnormalities had increased by 34% over the previous three years. Some of those were aborted because they had a cleft palate.

Unexpected Value

Hayley Golenioswska, who set up the website www.downssideup.com after her daughter Natty was born with Downs syndrome, said in reference to this awfully sad discarding of precious life, “I weep to think of what we could lose.”

If the thought of losing something is the cause of her tears, that which could have been lost must be of extreme value. Hayley discovered in her Natty that what she has is so precious, so valuable, she weeps at the thought that others like her may be too easily discarded when they have the potential to be a source of such great joy.

Unexpected Blessing

I do not want to suggest for a moment that having a child with ‘Downs’ is easy. I would be the fool to presume to appreciate all the complexities that may exist. I imagine those complexities, along with the social stigmas, can be a source of real anxiety.
But thousands would testify of the blessings!
Apart from the love and affection that seem to bubble over so freely from a child with Downs syndrome, they too give us a unique opportunity for selfless service. Yes, selfless service because raising any child with an abnormality brings with it a certain kind of exhaustion. But what we are prone to forget is that every experience of loving service brings with it an experience of deep satisfaction, if not in the moment, certainly in the end.

Unexpected Wonder

Last year, some friends Dave and Carol lost their son. Paul was born with severe abnormalities: He had no eyes, had a hairlip and cleft palate, was incapable of any movement on his own, and never spoke a word . One doctor said that there simply was not enough brain matter to sustain life. Dave and Carol were told not to expect the life of their son to extend beyond a few days.
Paul lived for 17 years!
During those years, they served him with love, love and more love. They fed him, they changed him, they bathed him. They carried him to the physician, they wheeled him on outings. Many a night time hour was spent awake at his bedside.

Unexpected Gain

What they did, and what I write, will no doubt have many a detractor. Some will callously suggest that such a life is not worth living. They will suggest that Paul’s experience of life had no quality, and therefore would have been better to have been brief. They will suggest that Dave and Carol’s difficulties in caring for Paul were a curse rather than a blessing. But Paul did have a quality of life in that he had a quality of love. He didn’t know holidays or movies or rollercoasters or reading, but the one thing he knew, only one, he knew so completely: The love of his parents. One doctor was staggered that he should have survived so long, and suggested that the only possible reason it proved so, was his parents love for him.
And Dave and Carol, what did they get out of the experience. When Paul passed away, they were devastated.
Why?
They would tell you that in serving their precious, abnormal, beautiful son with the most selfless, sacrificial love, he gave them, in ways that none could describe or explain, so much more in return.

Unexpected Joy

Dear Mum-to-Be, perhaps the little one you are expecting will, in appearance and ability, be quite different from your neighbours children. And you may be tempted to wonder whether your pregnancy will be worth continuing. With loving compassion for you, I have this to say: Hope will not be found in the loss of your child. Hope will be found in holding her!

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