Human Interest

One doctor’s advice gave her peace after giving birth to her son with Down syndrome: ‘Take him home and love him’

Down syndrome

Lourdes Hnath discovered that her son Joshua had Down syndrome as well as a major heart defect when he was still in the womb. Doctors pressured her to abort. Telling her story in Feminists for Life’s magazine, “The American Feminist,” Hnath wrote, “Doctors encouraged abortion, but since my family and I don’t believe in this, it was not an option. However, I was terrified. How do I take care of a child with special needs? Will he even know me?”1

Hnath stood firm in her decision not to abort, despite her fears. She found that there were many organizations that exist to help new parents of children with Down syndrome. She said, “We were hooked up with one of the many organizations that help disabled children, so he was on waiting lists for all kinds of help even before he arrived.”1

When Joshua was born, Hnath was nervous and feared for the future. But she got some good advice from a doctor. “I was still scared. When he was born, I asked his doctor, ‘Now what do I do?’ He said, ‘Take him home and love him.’ That is what we did.”1

READ: ‘Joy on his face’: Strangers send letters to raise spirits of quarantined man with Down syndrome

Joshua’s heart was successfully repaired at three months of age. He is now a healthy young man. Hnath writes about her son:

Besides his disability, he was just a regular kid. He laughed, cried, discovered things he loves to do (swimming and dancing), and he is my life! He is very close to my entire family, and his older brother and younger sister are devoted to him. He is his own person. He sees things differently than most people (usually more logically), and he makes us laugh every day.

As a young adult, Joshua now has a job, “My baby is now 18 years old. He has been in school since he was four, and he is very proud of his job that he has through school. Even though my life isn’t what I planned, it is better because of my Joshua.”1

Hnath and her family are not alone in their joy. According to Chris Kaposy, who is also the parent of a child with Down syndrome:

A recent study by Brian G Skotko, Susan P Levine, and Richard Goldstein shows that an overwhelming majority of parents of children with Down syndrome love their children, have pride in them, and experience joy and rewards for raising a child with Down syndrome. Furthermore, such parents tend to “cite life lessons in acceptance, patience, and purpose.” The research was based on survey responses from over 2000 parents of children with Down syndrome in the United States.2

  1. “Lourdes Hnath” The American Feminist 2012, p. 25
  2. Chris Kaposy Choosing down Syndrome: Ethics and New Prenatal Testing Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2018) 33, citing Brian G Skotko, Susan P Levine, Richard Goldstein “Having a Son or Daughter with down Syndrome: Perspectives from Mothers and Fathers” American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A, 155 (2011) 2344

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