October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
I already wrote my account of how Down Syndrome changed our family for the better. I published it last October, so there’s no need for me to rewrite it. You can read about my baby sister, Lori Ann, here. She was with us for only a few years, but she made us all better people.
People with Down Syndrome live their lives just like you and I.
These days there is a push to stigmatize unborn children with Down Syndrome. I can’t understand why, but for some reason these special needs human beings are being aborted at an alarming rate. It’s very sad for families who have been blessed to have Down Syndrome people as members. We don’t understand why they are singled out, however I do not dwell on this unfortunate fact. I guess it’s a sign of the times. I pray that better days are ahead, since Americans are better than this. Americans have only recently begun to practice what amounts to eugenics. Again, we as a nation have always been champions of marginalized people for the most part, and perhaps we will rise above the current dark trend of using murder to rid ourselves of people who some deem “imperfect.”
Children and adults with Down Syndrome are great gifts.
They truly are wonderful people. Please read all about Down Syndrome Awareness Month, facts about Down Syndrome, resources and, if you are so inclined, how to help, at the National Down Syndrome Society’s website.
I recently became aware of the following poem, entitled “Welcome To Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley. It’s very profound. My parents knew all about the sentiment contained in this poem.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
Holland seems a very lovely place. If ever you are given an unexpected chance to go there, even though you had planned to visit Italy, (where, after all, most parents go), don’t dismiss it too quickly. Lovely things happen there. You will learn much about compassion, patience, kindness and even holiness in Holland.