Claire Farrington and her partner Andy were shocked when they learned that their son, born two months premature, had Down syndrome. Having done prenatal testing for the condition, Farrington was told that her child did not have Down syndrome, but the testing was only 85 percent accurate. Initially, she was devastated, but after bringing her son Theo home from the hospital a few months after his birth, everything changed. She appeared on the UK show This Morning to discuss how she handled the news and her fears that there will soon be no one left in the world with Down syndrome.
“I was very devastated at the time but I knew I wouldn’t always feel that way,” said Farrington. “It’s like a rainbow with a color missing then you look a little closer and see another color and that rainbow in the end becomes one of the nicest rainbows you see.”
The first few weeks of Theo’s life were scary. Not only was the first time mother dealing with a diagnosis she wasn’t expecting, but her baby was tiny – his hand the size of her fingernail – and in an incubator.
“I think it’s important to be honest: I did have flashes of shameful thoughts as we were told and the enormity of his diagnosis pressed down on every atom of my being. I remember feeling snuffed out, almost extinguished by it, then coming back to life and hitting the wall in terror and shock.
“That really was the worst half hour of our lives. Nothing prepares you for unexpected news and nothing prepares you for your reaction to it,” she said on her blog.
The hosts of the show and viewers adored Theo and it was easy to see why:
@thismorning he’s such a cutie, how could anyone consider aborting their downs baby is beyond me, they are all a blessing.
— Charlotte Stanford (@CharlotteDeni) March 17, 2017
When the host of the show Eamonn Holmes mentioned that because of prenatal testing and abortion Theo could be the last generation of people with Down syndrome, Farrington responded that this upsets her.
“I think we’re heading into a dangerous world of eugenics and why should we decide who gets to be born? And I wrote in my last blog piece last night nobody knows what their baby’s going to be like until they are born. And Andy said to me, you know, don’t write him off, he’s not his diagnosis,” she explained.
Farrington is right. In Britain, 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, according to Dr. Peter McParland, an obstetrician from the National Maternity Hospital. In Iceland, 100 percent of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted. Denmark is expected to be “Down syndrome-free” by 2030.
What Farrington wants other mothers to know is that being a parent to a child with Down syndrome is the same as much as it is different. She said she started a blog to chart her feelings, knowing that they would change over time. She wants to be completely honest so that other mothers can relate and feel understood.
“We’re just doing the same job as any other mom,” she said about raising her son.
Each day and night she willed her tiny baby to live and now that he is one year old, she wishes she knew then what she knows now.
“If someone had told me a year ago [things would be like this] I wouldn’t have worried so much,” she explained.