Friday, October 24, 2014

To the UK mom with the 47 year old son with Down's syndrome

Have you read what this mom said in an interview ?    She is a mom in the UK with a 47 year old son with Down's syndrome. 

She said:
Perhaps you'd expect me to say that, over time, I grew to accept my son's disability. That now, looking back on that day 47 years later, none of us could imagine life without him, and that I'm grateful I was never given the option to abort.
However, you'd be wrong. Because, while I do love my son, and am fiercely protective of him, I know our lives would have been happier and far less complicated if he had never been born. I do wish I'd had an abortion. I wish it every day.
If he had not been born, I'd have probably gone on to have another baby, we would have had a normal family life and Andrew would have the comfort, rather than the responsibility, of a sibling, after we're gone.
Instead, Stephen - who struggles to speak and function in the modern world - has
brought a great deal of stress and heartache into our lives.
That is why I want to speak in support of the 92 per cent of women who choose to abort their babies after discovering they have Down's Syndrome. Mothers like Suzanne Treussard who bravely told her story in the Daily Mail two weeks ago.
Suzanne, who was offered a termination at 15 weeks, braved a backlash of criticism and vitriol from some readers.
But I'd challenge any one of them to walk a mile in the shoes of mothers like me, saddled for life as I am, with a needy, difficult, exasperating child who will never grow up, before they judge us.
They should experience how it feels to parent a grown man, who is no more able to care for himself than a toddler - and at a time of life when your children should, all things being equal, be taking care of you.
They should know how it feels to live every single day under a crushing weight of guilt.
They should know how it feels to watch Stephen's constant suffering and witness the almost daily destruction wreaked on all our lives.
Dear "mom",
As a mom with a biological son with more special needs than your son, I have to tell you- I LOVE his life!  I am also an adopted mom to three other children all with some special needs.  I love them in a way I never knew I could love.  Yes I have a very different life than most of my friends...."all things equal" most of my friends are watching their remaining kids go off to college, get married and some have grandkids that they occasionally take care of.  Their lives are filled with time for themselves, time with their husbands....most of them are NOT feeding kids and changing diapers still!  In fact I have no friends who have kids in diapers but me.....
But the difference is I truly feel it is a privilege to be Sam's mom.  He has brought more to our lives and to the lives of others than could ever be measured.  If it had not been for Sam and all the unique things he brought to our lives, we would never have had the courage to adopt Shad, Sarah and Selah. 
Sam certainly brought us some stress and heartaches, we were so afraid of losing his sweet little life when he was younger and so sick.  It was hard, not because we were afraid we'd have to take care of him our whole lives, but because we were afraid we wouldn't have him to take care of! 
Dealing with cornea transplants and rejections and then corneal implants was hard.  But we managed....
Then we adopted our other three children and have dealt with some major issues since then as one of our adopted daughters who already had special needs was in a near drowning and is now in a comatose status in our home with 24 hour nursing.  So we've dealt with a few things!
This line makes me the maddest.....
They should know how it feels to watch Stephen's constant suffering and witness the almost daily destruction wreaked on all our lives.
To the best of my knowledge, Down's doesn't cause any suffering or physical pain in and of itself. 
And as far as the "daily destruction" give me a break!   Somebody needs to take a course on learning to CHILL OUT!
I use Sam as an example because he is our biological child....he came to us with all his issues that we had no idea that he had!  We didn't do testing even tho I was of  "advanced maternal age".  I wanted to do testing just so I'd know if there was anything to be concerned about but my doctor said it wasn't worth the risk and he knew I'd never abort.  With Peter's it would have not shown up on the testing that was done at that time so we would have thought we had nothing to worry about. 
With Shad, Sarah and Selah our adopted kids with special needs....we accepted them AS IS and knew what to expect to some degree.  With Shad we were told he was completely blind and mentally retarded.  Well....he is only blind in one eye and basically a genius.....    With Sarah and Selah they were similar to the diagnosis given but then of course things changed after the accident for Selah.  That didn't make us love her any less....and we didn't resent her.  We are just as committed to making her life as good as it possibly can be as we were the day we walked out of the orphanage with her. 

***As far as our "normal biological son" Steve goes....he is an Unspoiled, caring, responsible young man.   Being the oldest to the other four has been the BEST thing that ever happened to his character in my opinion.  He has experienced things that most 18 year olds have not, some things have been gut wrenching sad, but he has reached inside himself and grew in situations.  He has seen the "silver lining" in the clouds of life. 

Our adopted "normal" son Shad also has a heart that has learned to love, he has seen commitment acted out in front of him   I believe that seeing how we love our kids makes him a more secure child and will help him as an adult.  He has seen the lengths we have had to go to at times to take care of the kids and I believe that lets him know what we would do for him if it were necessary.

Steve & Shad will have different responsibilities as they grow older because of the three younger children but is that such a bad thing?  I think NOT!  I think some of the problems of the world today is lack of commitment when times get tough.....
As angry as reading this makes me, I can only think that you have no Hope in life.  You must believe this is IT-there is no eternal life, there is no reward for faithfulness.  I feel sorry for your son, without a doubt I'm sure he feels the lack of his parents' love. 
You know we are not promised a perfect life.  No one is born with a "get out of jail" card in their hand.  We have no guarantees-Life doesn't come with guarantees.   A person can be normal, have a great life and fall down and hit their head and be mentally impaired the rest of his/her life.   A person with a great life and future can be driving down the road and be hit by a drunk driver and everything changes forever....
I've learned to trust God through situations.  And I'm going to make the best of a situation.  There is no reason to wish for things to be different, if there is no way to change the situation.  Sure I cried some tears when Sam was diagnosed with various issues.    There was a grieving time.  I grieved that he wouldn't have a "normal" life.  Now, honestly, I look back and think I needed some chill pills!  I'm not saying there is anything wrong in grieving that a child will have a different life that what was envisioned for him but a person can't wallow in that grief.  I think the love I had for Sam helped me to see what was so special about Sam. 
Now I don't grieve about things being different for Sam.  We just enjoy and accept Sam for who he is!  And we accept and enjoy our other children. 
I've grieved the hardest over our daughter Selah who was in a near drowning accident.  But even in the grief, I don't wish her dead.  I want her back to where she was (where she was, was lower functioning than your son) and I miss her but we are so very committed to her.  Her life does not bring us agony or bitterness.  We rejoice in her life. 
So all I can say is it is sad that you don't see the beauty in your son's life, so sorry that you can't focus on the positives he brings to your life, rather than focusing on things perceived as negative.  Your writing is so bitter and I'm sure it will scare many who may find out their unborn child is not "perfect" but it doesn't scare me.  I have THREE special needs children with much more medical and physical needs than your son.  All three are basically non verbal, all three are in diapers, all three have to be fed, only one can walk unassisted, all three have visional impairments.  Two of the three, have major medical issues.  I think I am qualified to address you..... 
Most people will not find themselves in my position and that's ok.  It's not the easiest in some ways, but in other ways it is so easy.  My life is fuller, richer and sweeter since I became a "special needs mom" and I have no regrets.  My children are happy and accepted.  And this may sound "hokey" but  I feel we've been entrusted to raise this special little soul and privileged to adopt our other children. 
Your interview made me very angry on many levels.  I don't feel sorry for you or for your situation.  But it sounds as if you have some big needs in your soul.  I can't fix that and neither can you.  All I can tell you is that God can bring you peace.  He is the One who has walked with me through all we've been through the past 11 years and He is the One who has given me the strength & who helps me to keep things in perspective.  He is the One who gives me Hope for my future and for my kids futures.  I believe that there is an eternal life coming where all will be made right.  My Hope and Faith is in Jesus Christ.  He is the One who gives me peace.  He is the one who whispers in my heart when fears arise.  He can give you a future and a hope. 


  1. Thank you, Yvonne! You shared my thoughts!

    Take care,

  2. Down syndrome manifests in a huge variety of ways, with some kids getting spared the suffering that others experience. Therefore, just because you have special needs kids yourself doesn't mean that you can fully understand the experience of a women who gave birth to a severely disabled child in 1967 in a different country.

    Gillian Relf spoke up only to defend Suzanne Treussard, who was getting lambasted for her decision to abort at 15 weeks after learning that her fetus had Down syndrome. Relf isn't telling all women that they MUST abort, just telling them to make the decision mindfully, KNOWING that the results of that decision may not be Hallmark movie material.

    Myself, I'd advise them to consider that Stephen Relf's case is no more representative of all people with Down syndrome than Chris Burke's. Also that a lot of Relf's suffering was caused by the lack of services and support for special needs children back then, as well as psychological strain and stigma.

  3. Brilliant response to her awful letter. I am sad for her, and her child :( I cannot imagine being raised with such negativity. It would be wonderful if the original paper would run your reply!