Down Syndrome: A Blessing Not A Burden

CBS recently came out with a story with the headline: "What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing. The article talks about how there has been a significant drop in the number of children born with Down syndrome in Iceland due to abortion. I have been incredibly saddened to read about this and the tragedy that is occurring in Iceland.  With the advances in prenatal testing, this is becoming more and more common all over the world.

How did we get here and what  kind of world do we live in where the most vulnerable of our society is stripped of the most basic human right, which is life itself! How have we come so far as a culture from understanding the true value and purpose of these individuals? I can’t even begin to imagine a world without Down syndrome, what a sad, sad world that would be! These children bring so much joy and happiness to life. Down Syndrome is a blessing, not a burden and it's about time we change our mindset. What if instead of saying “I’m sorry” to a parent who just received a diagnosis, instead we said “congratulations!” This would change perceptions and save lives! 

Over time, we have become a selfish society that does not cherish or protect the life of its most vulnerable members. Children with Down syndrome are specifically targeted through prenatal testing and are aborted and disregarded as worthless. If a prenatal test shows that a child has Down syndrome, parents are encouraged by their doctors to terminate the pregnancy. They are seen as a burden instead of a blessing right from the beginning. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. It’s time that we get to know the beauty these children possess instead of judging them based on what we think their lives will be like. So often parents are blind sided into focusing on all the things that can go wrong or the things they think they will be missing out on with a child with Down syndrome, instead of focusing on what they will be gaining: a precious child who was fearfully and wonderfully made. 

"So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them.” Genesis 1:27

Each one of us is a child of God. From the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, we all uphold dignity because God created us and loves us —all of us and those with a disability are no different. I have had the privilege of knowing and loving many people with Down syndrome and other disabilities and they are the most amazing and beautiful people I have ever known, each one a unique gift to our world. 

According to society's standards, a person's dignity is defined by their individual successes and advances. But I am here to tell you that a person's dignity is not defined by what they are going to accomplish throughout their lifetime, but rather by God’s love for the person they are.  Every one of us is unique and has something different to offer the world, including those with Down syndrome. The common misconception is that because a child has a disability, they are unintelligent or not capable, but that is so far from the truth. They are fully capable when given the chance and it is up to us to give them that chance of life, to flourish and grow to be all that God created them to be. 

I know the love and happiness that those with Down syndrome bring to life because I have experienced it first hand. They inspire me on a daily basis to be a better person and they have brought me indescribable joy. So much so, that I want everyone in the world to experience that same happiness and love. Their lives are worth living just as much as any one of us. We must give them that chance at life. 

We owe it to all those who have Down syndrome to stand up and protect their right to life,  because if we don't then who will? The change starts NOW, with each one of us. We can  be the change, we can educate people on the beauty of every single person with Down syndrome instead of focusing on what the world perceives to be a burden.  If only parents knew the joy and happiness their child could bring to the world or the tremendous blessing that the child will be to their family. No prenatal test can show you that. I am not saying it will be easy, because life never is, but it will certainly be worth it. I can guarantee that these precious children will capture your heart, forever change your life, make you a better person and fill your life with laughter and love.