Not for the first time, I find myself comforting a pregnant momma whose doctors have diagnosed a problem with her unborn child. Prenatal tests and needles have determined her child to be imperfect – medical opinion agrees that termination would be in the family’s best interest. I’ve experienced these conversations before: the doctor provides all of the medical and cognitive complications that very likely will be present at birth. The uphill battle that will ensue for the child to survive, and the imperfections that will remain. I have no issue with doctors presenting the facts for parents to make an informed decision. Families make these impossible decisions every day. My only issue is that doctors cannot inform any parent completely. Their prognosis has no way to include extremely important facts that parents should know. I have the privilege of knowing several children whose parents were given that same advice. Children who’ve undergone multiple surgeries and whose families have struggled desperately to keep life going – both literally and figuratively. Those parents and their sweet children, along with my own, testify to the “facts” of being a special needs family that a medical prediction does not include. For the benefit of my sweet friend who is even now wrestling with this decision, I’ve compiled this INCOMPLETE list of things that your child’s diagnosis doesn’t tell you:
- A special child will change your life for the better. You have areas in your heart, your soul, your emotions that you never knew existed. They are like untapped fountains that can only be opened by the special child. Most special parents find their life’s calling wrapped up in journey.
- A special child will unleash the fighter you never knew lived inside you. You will become stronger, more fierce and every area of your life will be affected forever because you will become a new level of tough, resilient and unwavering.
- A special child will impact their siblings forever. Siblings of special children are among the finest human beings you will ever meet. They are the torchbearers to future generations of compassion, understanding, longsuffering and inclusion.
- A special child will take your faith to depths you never knew existed. There will be moments, dear friend, when it’s just you and your creator. These moments will transform your faith in your innermost places like nothing else can.
- A special child will bring a joy that cannot be explained. The tiniest achievement – a roll, a smile, a step, a word – will bring you a profound joy that will live inside you like a lamp oil that doesn’t run out.
Dear friend, every child is a gift. A special child bears treasure for their parents, siblings and all who know them. My special guy impacts the world around him everyday. The more profound the challenge, I have found, the greater the impact. Other than my own children, my favorite kid in the universe is Lucas whose photo accompanies this post. His parents were advised to terminate because their unborn baby was missing half his heart. Once born, Lucas was rushed through multiple surgeries. He lives today, eight years later, as the most wonderful, sweet, loving and courageous boy that I’ve ever met. No rose-colored glasses here – his parents still find themselves in the hospital frequently. They still face uncertainties on a regular basis. But what none of the doctors could have ever explained, is that they, like so many other special parents, wouldn’t change a thing! Let this post simply serve to complete the full picture of what you face so that whatever decision you make, it is fully informed.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
Psalms 139:13-14 NLT