Friday, February 8, 2013

Give me dignity

I used to go over to a childhood friend's house and play after school.  Elliot and I would run around building forts, capturing ghosts or climbing trees, like many little boys.  No matter what we did, his kid sister would poke her head into our action and we'd yell to Elliot's mom, "Get her outta here!"

Elliot's sister had Down syndrome. I knew little about the condition at the time.  To me, at the age of 6 or 7, she was just another annoying little sister.  This is my first memory of experiencing special needs in another.  I have since had several deeper experiences which include a close family friend, also born with Downs, and an extended service project among children with disabilities.  

What I did not know about Elliot's sister until much later was the story of her birth and the offer her parents received thereafter.  My mom told me Elliot's parents gave birth to his sister overseas, in Europe.  To their surprise, their daughter was born with the chromosomal abnormality.  They were saddened and confused.

Hospital officials came to their side and offered to help them out, thinking these parents, unprepared to raise a child of such needs, would be at a loss.  But, the offer for help was refused by Elliot's parents.  You see, Elliot's parents would not allow the hospital to take their daughter and send her away to be infirmed for life and never be seen by the family again- as though she never happened.

This story has stuck with me since I heard it and took on deeper meaning after Jude's birth.  It highlights a reality in our world today, where the disabled are sometimes viewed as the inconvenient, where children must fit into their parents' plans.  There are cultures today that would have cast our Jude aside, maybe to an orphanage or worse, because of the "burden" he'd be on his family or community.

And, it is with this in mind, that I remain thankful Jude was born to his parents, is loved by our family, and supported by our friends.  We will never face the decision Elliot's parents faced, but we continue to keep up the fight for his dignity to be recognized and embraced.  There's nothing to cast off here.

St. Jude: Pray for us.

1 comment:

  1. Jude -- and you all -- are so blessed by each other. What a great story.