So you have a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome...
Posted Jun 13 2009 12:06am
and are considering termination. You ask yourself, what kind of life would my child with Down syndrome have? What burdens would he or she place on our family? Oh, he/she will suffer so termination is best for him/her.
Before you make that decision, spend some time really researching, meeting other parents of children with Down syndrome, and read THIS BOOK. and if you have a prenatal diagnosis and want a free copy of GIFTS, just email me.
Usually the decision to terminate has to do with your fears, and your inability to see potential in your unborn child with Down syndrome that is the factor in your hesitation to give birth to your child.
We stopped at Petro-Can to fill up the car and had to wait until a lane cleared by the pump so we could pull in. We'd passed several other stations without line ups, but here we sat. Joe collects Petro-Points and refuses to gas anywhere else. It's one of his, um, quirks. I didn't notice anything at first, then I saw a young guy about twenty staring intently at something. I put my eyes on his gaze and slid along to see the object of his attention. "Oh, stop," I thought to myself. He was staring at a man, about the same age as he was, with Down Syndrome who was pumping gas into a car.
"Surely," I thought, "people are used to seeing the disabled amongst us being out and in the community doing every day things."
Then I noticed that everyone else was staring too. Really looking at this guy. This was more than "Wow look at the disabled guy pump gas." This was something else.
So I took in the whole scene. He was pumping gas into a car. The car was empty. Forgive me for what I thought, but I thought that his mom or dad was probably in the service center going to the washroom. He finished pumping gas, went in to the little kiosk and paid.
Now, I understood what people were looking at. staring at, seeing. He got into the car, on the driver's side.
Started the engine.
Even I reeled at that. I had heard of people with Down Syndrome driving, but I'd never seen it before. My automatic assumption was that he was a passenger. That because he had Down Syndrome he'd never ever be in the driver's seat.
They weren't staring at him. Those people at the gas station. I think that something different was going on. They were re-evaluating eveything they ever thought about someone with Down Syndrome. They were ripping apart pre-conceived notions. They were having prejudice challenged.
Admittedly, so was I.
Just when I thought that I had it all together, some guy with Down Sydrome drives me off the road. Makes me realize how deep my own prejudices run.
I wonder, though, about the effect he will have. On me, it was immediate. I reached inside myself and raised the bar - set expectations higher - not for them - for me.
But I wonder if that twenty something guy who's stare I'd noticed. Should he ever get the news that his wife is carrying a baby with Down Syndrome, will he remember the guy with the car, pumping gas. The guy who drove off. The guy who is living a life, unpredicted. The guy doing things, unexpected. The guy who dreams, unencumbered.