I’ve been listening in on the conversations of parents of children with Down syndrome.
Most of them are grieved by the high Down syndrome abortion rate (over 90%). Some parents have become advocates, getting the word out about the “up” side of Down syndrome. Some of them stay very informed on any current news about Down syndrome.
One of those parents recently observed that there seems to be a new trend of disparaging responses to these public relations efforts. These responses go something like this~
“We can discount anything that parents list as the positives of Down syndrome, because we know they are doubtless making the best of a bad situation.”
In my opinion, you would have to be gullible enough to believe in conspiracy theories to believe that one! Now, if the experienced parents were trying to say that there were no difficulties, that would be cause to doubt their credibility!
Of course there will be difficulties on this road as there are with nearly every child. These will just be different and perhaps more intense at times. Nobody is denying that. That’s the most obvious side of the Down syndrome story.
But countless parents from all over the country are giving the same kind of message, over and over and over again.
They say that the unique and intangible rewards that have come from living life with their child far, far outweigh the problems that outsiders see. If they could go back and choose again, knowing what they do now, they would not trade in those rewards for a child without that extra chromosome.
If some still dismiss that perspective as biased, here are some notable facts that they can’t argue with~
~Maybe you’ve heard the statistic (we read it again in a recent issue of WORLD magazine above a picture of a child with Down syndrome) that the divorce rate for parents of children with special needs is as high as 80%. But that is not the whole story! Not only is the divorce rate for parents of children with Down syndrome lower than the divorce rate for parents of children with other birth defects, it is also lower than the divorce rate for parents of children with no identified disabilities.
(I found it intriguing that there were only three family variables affecting divorce in this study: the child with Down syndrome being later in the family birth order, not being an only child, and coming from a larger family. Each of these variables was connected with a lower divorce rate.)
~Siblings of children with Down syndrome are more likely to show a greater level of maturity than their peers, more empathy and understanding of the challenges of others, and more awareness of the advantages most people take for granted.
~There are over 200 families in the United States who are ready, willing, and waiting to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Since children with Down syndrome are becoming more scarce here due to the high abortion rate, some families are adopting them internationally, many through Reece’s Rainbow. Many of the families on the waiting list already have a child with Down syndrome and they want another.
Living in denial? Hmmm. Sounds more like a description of the determined naysayers than of these experienced parents.