It is all to common to hear women share that they have had the same experience- they were pressured into abortion just because their baby was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Over and over again, I have heard these women share their stories and my own story is the same. I have never figured out why doctors decide to push women into abortion just because of a prenatal diagnosis that is different from a typical pregnancy. This, my friends, is eugenics.
This month is not only Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but it is also Respect Life Month and the month of the Holy Rosary! Coincidence? No, God doesn't do coincidences. He is an intentional God. The purpose of "awareness months" is exactly that - to bring awareness to a certain topic. Down Syndrome Awareness Month is important to me because it provides an avenue in which to drive home the message that Down syndrome is a beautiful gift from God and that people who live with Down syndrome live very typical lives.
When I look at my 2 year old, I don't see Down syndrome; I see my son. His father, big brother and big sister see the same. Andrew isn't going through the "terrible two's." Instead, he's a ball of joyful energy who is learning how to speak and rough house with his brother and sister! Down Syndrome Awareness Month was created to let the world know of the abilities of those living with the extra chromosome. They can do anything that anyone else can do. At Andrew's baptism a couple of years ago, a friend gave me an ornament that said, "I wouldn't change you for the world, but I will change the world for you." This very eloquently explains why Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Respect Life Month, and the Month of the Holy Rosary are so important to me.
I will change the world for Andrew- and all of my children. Through the help of our Blessed Mother, I want my children's worlds to be one filled with love, confidence, and inclusion. Every day I pray that my children are healthy, happy, holy, wholesome, safe and honorable. This prayer isn't just for my children, however. It is for every pre-born child. It is for every mother who is either contemplating abortion or pushed into abortion. This prayer is for an end to abortion.
Every child has the right to life; and those living with Down syndrome are no exception. There is a quote I have seen from an unknown author that says, "the journey may be long, but I love my tour guide." Raising a child with Down syndrome requires a lot of patience. It takes longer than their peers for these kiddos to meet their developmental milestones, but they will meet them. I have to force myself not to compare the development of my son to his peers. Instead, I focus on Andrew and his development, even though it takes him longer to learn how to eat, walk, talk, etc. That being said, he has come a long way and I am very proud of his hard work!
Down syndrome offers beauty that fills the world with light and love. Due to common features, most people recognize a person with Down syndrome right away. In my experience, I have seen those with Down syndrome bring out the best in the people that they encounter through a simple smile or greeting. I call this a superpower- the ability to change another person's disposition!
During the month of October, may we truly have an awareness of Down syndrome, life, and the power of the Holy Rosary. May we never cease fighting for the right to life. May we be advocates for the inclusion of those living with Down syndrome or another different-ability. Relying on the power of prayers and staying active in these causes, may we truly change the world and make it a more meaningful place for our children. In turn, may our children be the ones who make the world better than we leave it.
Erin Thielman is a mother of three, and speaker, who blogs at thinkingcatholic.net.