Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little boys and opportunities

Stanislav is a handsome little boy with Down Syndrome. He was born 3 1/2 years ago in a country where his diagnosis meant life in a crib... where his family was encouraged to give him up... where he will never get the chance to show everyone how much he can accomplish.

Sometime very soon--maybe today--I am going to give birth to a little boy. To my knowledge he does not have Down Syndrome. But if he did, he would never see the inside of an orphanage, let alone a mental institution. He would still come home with me and be loved by his brother or sister. No one would suggest maybe I should just leave him at the hospital and try again for a healthy baby. He would be eligible for many services, and likely attend a public school alongside typical peers, unless I decided to homeschool him. If I didn't feel equipped to be his parent, many families would be willing to adopt him. I know families right now who would love the opportunity to parent my son if I felt I could not handle a baby with Down Syndrome. I could visit him, receive pictures, and be part of his life. There would be no reason to be ashamed of my son.

That's not because something is different between a little boy with Down Syndrome born in Eastern Europe and one born in the US. That's because in our country we've decided that people with Down Syndrome matter, that they deserve the opportunity to flourish to the extent of their potential (if they are born, anyway). And if a family here decides that Stanislav is their son, he will have all those opportunities too. And he will have a family. He deserves all of that.

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