Michele Harmon wrote about her child with Down syndrome in her essay, “The Most Beautiful Face on Earth.” When Harmon was pregnant with her daughter Ciarra, doctors urged her to abort, but she refused. Five years later, she had no regrets. What Harmon writes are things that parents receiving a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis are unlikely to hear from doctors who may pressure them to abort.
Take it from this parent, who experiences day to day life with a little girl who has Down syndrome:
Ciarra attends a regular preschool program, she was potty trained before she was three, and is a very independent little kid. She is funny and spirited, stubborn and witty. She whistles little songs all day long. She idolizes her big brother. She loves to draw and can put all the details into a drawing of a face.
At five years old, this child they told me would be so unworthy of life, such a burden, has defied all predictions. She is in a mainstream kindergarten class where she holds her own nicely and is doing most things like any other child her age. Letters and words seem to be her strength.
She has so many friends that sometimes we get tired of dragging her to play dates and parties… All those worries I had about kids shying away from her have turned out to be the exact opposite. She is like a magnet.… Her teachers have fallen in love with her. Many of them were afraid of Down syndrome before… now they are like me, grateful for the opportunity to know her. She continues to touch people with her sweetness and surprise them with her ability. Ciarra is a little girl who has been the best teacher that I can ever imagine having. She is a joy like no other….
She seems to have a way with people that I have never seen before. I wonder if it is her cheerfulness or her simple joy in everything.…
Harmon recognizes that fear of the unknown may keep parents from the joy of a lifetime:
Maybe someday it won’t be so scary to have a child with Down syndrome. Maybe someday 95% of her peers will not be eliminated.… I am blessed beyond words by this little girl. That blessing seems to know no end, it grows and grows and fills my heart daily. People may ask if it’s hard to have a kid like her. I wish they could know the truth. Sure, there are days I get tired. She asks a lot of questions, and she is in perpetual motion. But I wouldn’t trade her for the world…
She is the closest thing to an angel I will ever see.
Ciarra is a vibrant child with a life that is worth living. She was one of the lucky ones. Children like her are aborted every day for the ‘crime’ of being disabled.
Source: Melinda Tankard Reist Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (North Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex, 2006) 283 – 285