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It starts with the word yes! Special Parents for Special Needs Kids

by | Oct 18, 2016

By Leticia Velasquez, Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) and author of “A Special Mother is Born”

Editor’s note. October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. All this month we are publishing new and previously posted stories about children with Down syndrome and their families

octoberdsmonth3Rick Smith, the effervescent dad of “Noah’s Dad” fame didn’t see it coming. He had remarked that God only gives special children to special parents is whack (nonsense). Tempers ran high and he was attacked.

He answered with typical good sense, and a sense of humor, and Christian charity, which is why, even though I disagree with his statement, I wanted to comment on it. The first response we both might make is that if God is selecting parents of children with special needs, how and why then do nearly 90% of these parents abort their baby before they realize what a blessing they said “no” to?

But, unlike Rick, I am not ready to toss out the special parent idea just yet.

Which one of us hasn’t marveled in the patience we see in the mom or dad who, like Rick, take extra time to teach their babies the simplest skills and broadcast them over the blogosphere as if a new planet had been discovered?!

The joy in their beaming faces is a foretaste of heaven, isn’t it? We can see God’s grace at work in them. But just how did it get there? Hint: it starts with the word “yes.”

When we conceive a child with special needs, Our Heavenly Father offers each parent the opportunity to receive abundant grace (supernatural power to help her or him overcome natural weaknesses and act more like God would have us) in order to parent this child who will require extra amounts of patience, perseverance, hope, and faith.

The expectant parent doesn’t hear that this child will return those gifts in abundance. Instead she most often is given the “prenatal testing horror show” by their OB and genetic counselor: a list of things which may go wrong with the child physically or mentally.

Sometimes it even gets very personal. Some parents I interviewed for my book told me that the doctor told them this child will “ruin your life” or “break up your marriage.”

Really, that’s going a bit beyond prenatal diagnosis, don’t you think?

The parent, justifiably, is terrified. Overwhelmed by the news and far too often, in fear, she says “no” to God and aborts her baby. This is the tragic consequence of the gift of free will. However the loss is not only the life of the child, but also the beauty God was going to create in the parents’ soul by means of raising that wonderful, challenging child.

Dr. Brian Skokto of Massachusetts General Hospital Down Syndrome Clinic knows a thing or two about Down syndrome. His sister Krista has Down syndrome. Dr. Skotko’s survey [http://brianskotko.com/lets-get-real-about-down-syndrome] said that 97% of siblings of children with Down syndrome say they are better people because of being special siblings. Did I mention the 99% rate of happiness reported by those with Down syndrome and their parents?

Being a person of religious conviction is not a prerequisite. When you give your child with extra chromosomes life you are both saying “yes” to God and opening up a new world of beauty which only those of us who are farther down the road can see.

Every time I speak on live radio, the station is flooded with calls from people with stirring testimonies on how someone with Down syndrome made a wonderful difference in their lives. Some of the testimonies are decades old, but the effect remains.

Many are parents, but some are teachers, neighbors, friends, and siblings. Those people who are remembered so fondly were not angels; they were flawed human beings. But there IS something pure and holy about them, which brings out the best in us.

Where does it come from? God, of course. All good things come from His Hand.

When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, it was the prayers of Christina which inspired my family to take our heartbreak to God in prayer.

So, when I had seen those saintly old ladies in church gently guiding their 40-somethings with Down syndrome and concluded, “God can’t give me a child like that, I am not holy enough,” I was right. And wrong.

Right I wasn’t holy enough. Wrong, that God couldn’t give me a child like my wonderful 11 year old Christina with Down syndrome. He had a plan for my life, and He told me while I was in line for Communion, “I want you to accept this child as a gift from my Hand.” I said “yes” before I even believed I could become one of those elderly, saintly mothers of special needs children.

What I forgot was, those old ladies were my age when God gave them their special needs children, and may have had my impetuosity, hot temper and lack of patience. But, like me, they told God “yes,” and day by day, in His grace, they were shaped and fashioned into the saintly images of God I admired in church.

They probably thought the same thing about not being up to the challenge of raising a son or daughter with Down syndrome. But we have learned that God doesn’t call the prepared, He prepares the called.

So when I take a little extra care of my daughter on that hay ride, and attract curious looks, I remember where I was 11 years ago when I learned my daughter Christina had Down syndrome. I feared I could never be one of those patient moms I saw in church. Truth is, I wasn’t. Then.

I am a bit closer, now, thanks to a little girl with a little something extra.

Categories: Down Syndrome