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Are We This Pro-Life?: Parenting Special-Needs Children
BreakPoint with Charles Colson ^ | 4 Oct 04 | Charles Colson

Posted on 10/05/2004 10:43:27 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback

Sharon’s prenatal ultrasound looked ominous. She knew others with similar ultrasounds who had delivered perfectly normal children, but all indications were that her child had Down Syndrome. He was one of those infants who typically wind up in the trash, either aborted or abandoned. Because of their worldview, however, Sharon and Burt Kettinger chose to keep the child.

B. J. was a month premature, with two heart defects. Vital functions stopped three times in a twenty-four-hour period. He was hospitalized nearly five months. Surrounded by specialists, the parents soon found life very exhausting. Complicating it further were insurance challenges. A doctor belittled Sharon, saying she had acted “very irresponsibly” in bringing one “like him” into the world.

B. J. couldn’t walk until age 3. At age 15, he still has trouble with speech. Yet when anyone says “Down Syndrome child,” his parents Burt and Sharon respond, “He is first a child, who happens to have Down Syndrome.”

Four out of five marriages in this situation, break up under the strain. When a father sees the long-term commitment required, he often abandons the mother at the time she needs help most.

The Kettingers stayed together, but a “special needs child” needs supplemental help. Church friends arranged transportation for Sharon’s fifty-eight-mile daily round trip to the hospital. Neighbors helped with laundry, vacuuming, and meals. A nurse watched B. J. so Sharon could attend church.

And the exhaustion in part destroys the families, so parents critically need relief. Parents need time away from their child so they can focus on their relationship. Friends have stayed with B. J., once for twelve days. One church provides a regular respite evening for children, including some 40- or 50-year-olds.

To make it all work Burt stresses the need for volunteer training, spiritual responsibility, and patience, and familiar with C.P.R. Sign language can be helpful, and a hundred details need to be in place. It demands that the Church be the Church.

Burt says, “God isn’t looking for experts, but those who are willing and not afraid to learn.” Kids with special needs will respond more slowly, but their emotions are intact. Praise and humor go a long way.

B. J. is a Big Job, but he’s also a Big Joy. Burt observes, “B. J. can make almost anyone smile. He has unending empathy for others. . . . In terms of heart and spirit, he outdoes us.” When he earned AWANA’s Timothy Award, another child exclaimed, “Wow, he’s pretty smart for being retarded! ”

What does it mean to be pro-life? Just signing petitions and affirming an abstract concept? Or responding to needs when you meet a couple who followed their pro-life convictions by giving birth to a “special needs child” they could have aborted?

We salute the Kettingers and others who have ignored the “pro-choice” rhetoric and made the difficult, courageous choice—giving birth to a child they knew would have “special needs.” And three cheers for all the volunteers who have helped out over the years. Parents like this need a hand—not just in applause, but in lifting the extra burden.

Burt summarizes, “It’s one thing to sing, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,’ but another to be the one coming in God’s stead.”


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: breakpoint; disability; specialneeds
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A doctor belittled Sharon, saying she had acted “very irresponsibly” in bringing one “like him” into the world.

Whoa, what a moron.

1 posted on 10/05/2004 10:43:27 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback
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To: Mr. Silverback
A doctor belittled Sharon, saying she had acted “very irresponsibly” in bringing one “like him” into the world.

This doctor would be signing soprano through missing teeth if he so much as spoke one word of that to my wife.

2 posted on 10/05/2004 10:46:04 PM PDT by Prime Choice (It is dangerous to be right when wicked is called 'good.')
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah

ping


3 posted on 10/05/2004 10:48:36 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: agenda_express; applemac_g4; BA63; banjo joe; Believer 1; billbears; Blood of Tyrants; Boxsford; ...

BreakPoint/Chuck Colson Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my BreakPoint Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

4 posted on 10/05/2004 10:49:09 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback (If the Cambodia "lie" 100% discredits John O'Neill, what do 50 Cambodia lies do for Kerry?)
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To: 2nd amendment mama; A2J; Agitate; Alouette; Annie03; aposiopetic; Askel5; attagirl; axel f; ...

ProLife Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my ProLife Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

5 posted on 10/05/2004 10:50:37 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback (If the Cambodia "lie" 100% discredits John O'Neill, what do 50 Cambodia lies do for Kerry?)
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To: Mr. Silverback
As the father of a son with Downs, all I can say is that the mother of the doctor acted "very irresponsibly" by raising her son to be a bigoted, nasty, and unfeeling schmuck.
6 posted on 10/05/2004 10:53:39 PM PDT by GunnyB (Once a Marine, Always a Marine)
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To: Mr. Silverback
I've given this a great deal of thought, Mr. S. We have a DS child in our church. He is the last of twelve children. He is an enormous amount of work. He has also brought enormous joy to this family and his larger covenant family. The father says as much, adding that he is not a burden but a blessing.

Abortion is NEVER an option, except in the terrible case where a physician must choose to save one life instead of losing two. To affirm otherwise is to embrace the unspoken notion that we are the masters of our fates and the captain of our souls. These children, too, are arrows in a quiver. God is sovereign, and this, too, is part of His sovereign plan, a part He will bless.

7 posted on 10/05/2004 10:54:18 PM PDT by Lexinom (America needs Jonathan Edwards, not John Edwards)
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To: Mr. Silverback

"A doctor belittled Sharon, saying she had acted “very irresponsibly” in bringing one “like him” into the world."

Wow, I sure hope people like this get to decide whether or not I should live or die one day!

Modern man's god complex will be the death of us all.


8 posted on 10/05/2004 10:55:43 PM PDT by Sofa King (MY rights are not subject to YOUR approval.)
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To: Mr. Silverback
My youngest brother is autistic. Because of our age difference, I was spared the worst of it. I can only begin to imagine what my folks have gone through over the past 28 years-- and to only slightly a lesser extent, my other younger bothers.

It is said that God never gives you what he knows you can't handle. He must have the utmost confidence in my parents-- I know I have the supreme confidence and admiration for them and anyone who cares for special kids.

9 posted on 10/05/2004 11:10:35 PM PDT by Egon (Kerry and the MSM: co-conspirators in treason in 1970, and again in 2004.)
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To: Mr. Silverback

June 5, 2003 - a day I will never forget - the day we got the results of the amniocentesis. One can never know how you will respond to the news that you are expecting a child with special needs - in our case, a child with Down Syndrome. We struggled with the decision, but after prayer and soul searching, we both realized that God had a plan and this baby was still our responsibility. Soon we learned that we were wrong - our baby was a precious gift.

We also considered ourselves lucky - our son was born in September without any significant health issues (50% of babies with Down Syndrome have some type of heart defect). We decided that not only would our son be raised in the same manner as his older brother (3 yo), we also were determined to do everything possible to help him achieve the impossible. I cannot say enough about the job my wife has done - working with him constantly to facilitate development of motor skills, oral skills, etc. And we have also had the assistance of some amazing therapists (most provided by our state at no charge - they actually come to our home).

So what has happened in the past year? Well, for starters, our son was crawling by his first birthday - in fact, he is now all over the house into everything he can get hold of. He also pulls himself up to a standing position, eats everything in sight, plays with his older brother (actually, harasses him quite a bit), yells, laughs, giggles, cries, stretches his arms out to be held - in other words, he behaves like your typical one year old.
When I come home from work at night and look into his eyes, he smiles - a huge smile. A smile that says thank you - thank you for allowing me to come into your life. But, I owe much more to him, as he has taught me so much in his first year of life. I cannot imagine life without him.

Shortly after June 5, 2003, once we had made the decision not to terminate the pregnancy, we had pretty much resigned ourselves to being a two child family. We could not imagine taking the chance of having another child - the emotional strain alone seemed like too much to bear for a second time. After our son was born and we realized the amount of work it might take to raise him - work that will likely continue throughout our lives - we once again realized that 2 children would be it.

With hard work, prayer, and the support of family and friends, we had convinced ourselves that there was no reason to change our plans for a larger family. On June 5, 2004 (yes, June 5), we learned that we were expecting our third child! And, since then, all of the prenatal testing has come back negative! We will soon (end of January) be a three child family, just like many of our friends and neighbors. A family with three beautiful, healthy children that we love dearly - it's now just a side note that one of them happens to have Down Syndrome.

And please do me a big favor - the next time you meet an adult or child that happens to have Down Syndrome, please remember this story. Remember that a person with Down Syndrome and their family are no different than you and your family - no pity or sympathy is needed (or warranted). Don't look away - you look foolish when you do that. Rather, look beyond the disability - you will see someone that can achieve more than you can ever imagine - someone that can teach you a lot about life and God's love for all of us.


10 posted on 10/05/2004 11:19:04 PM PDT by The Noodle
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To: The Noodle

Amen! What a testimony! The Lord does only good.


11 posted on 10/05/2004 11:42:48 PM PDT by Lexinom (America needs Jonathan Edwards, not John Edwards)
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To: Mr. Silverback
As the mother of a severely mentally and physically disabled 20 year old, who neither walks nor talks, who still wears diapers, who cannot bathe herself, who basically cannot feed herself, who was born with a very rare form of dwarfism, and who had a feeding tube, and was on a respirator and oxygen with round-the-clock nursing in our home for over three years, I understand.

And I am still pro-life!

When I finally talked my husband into having another child after about 12 years, I had four miscarriages in 13 months. After another 13 months without any pregnancies (which just happened to correspond to the period of time when I stayed up late watching the Impeachment Hearings in the den-:o)), I got pregnant at 43 with our now 5 year old.

And I am still actively pro-life!

I love talking to anti-life defenders, and after telling them I am strongly pro-life, they tell me that I just wouldn't understand what it would be like to have a child born with birth defects. I let them go on and on. When I finally tell them my story, they suddenly become dead silent with a dropped mouth. It's fun watching their whole argument just disappear!

Believe me...I understand!

And I am still actively pro-life!

12 posted on 10/06/2004 12:56:44 AM PDT by Concerned
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To: The Noodle

Your post is a joy to read.

Having a "Special Needs" member of the family -- as you are finding out -- is indeed a great responsibility but also a great blessing.

I sometimes think the way our society is weeding the handicapped out at the root that is the womb (or as embryos, even, for those who Really like to Plan their Families or overcome their own handicap of sterility), has a twofold effect.

On a somewhat superficial and base selfish level, it leaves folks unable to appreciate how truly blessed they are to be "Ordinary." They become susceptible to the sort of morbid dissatisfaction that comes from failing to be an American Idol of some sort or which results in eating disorders, self-mutilation and other repercussions associated with having failed to be perfect somehow ... in looks, brains, talent, etc.

But there is also that fundamental level where -- absent the opportunity to learn in person that a child with brain damage or genetic malfunction is every bit your essential "equal" (or sometimes "better") as a human being and having as a given the option to kill on sight such sub-humans -- I think we end up with a very skew notion of what is and is not Essentially human.

My aunt has brain damage likely the result of being caught in the birth canal during a difficult labor. She has taught me more about what it is to be human -- or glimpse a real live angel, sometimes it's hard to tell -- than almost anyone I know.


13 posted on 10/06/2004 1:25:28 AM PDT by Askel5 ( Cooperatio voluntaria ad suicidium est legi morali contraria. )
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To: Askel5

=== Amniocentesis. One can never know how you will respond

But it's possible folks of the "Healthy Babies [only]" mindset at the March of Dimes who perfected amnio probably were wagering most would kill the child.

The OB-Gyn of a friend of mine told her when the question came up that, unless she were equal to aborting the child, there was really no point to performing the amnio in the first place. (It's true the March of Dime did perfect the procedure on "to-be-aborted" women for a reason.)

Oh for the day when no one ever knew if they were having a boy or a girl, even.


14 posted on 10/06/2004 1:26:46 AM PDT by Askel5 ( Cooperatio voluntaria ad suicidium est legi morali contraria. )
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To: Concerned
A year ago my son was diagnosed with diabetes. Sadly, it turns out that he's a "brittle" diabetic (yes, they do exist) and he has 1-8 severe lows a day. I have to test him every 2 hours minimum and that includes the middle of the night. The last ten months have been the most trying of my entire life, but I wouldn't have traded knowing this child for anything in the world. When people share their views on children with disabilities, about the cost and the stress, I point to this vibrant kid and say, "He's worth it. He's worth every penny and every sleepless night. If we hadn't had him, our family's life would've been very 'pleasant', but very boring. He's the spice - the flavor - in our lives."

Every moment is precious. Life is precious. Even if it's short it can be filled with joy, humor and love...

...and Popsicle sticks. Lots and lots of Popsicle sticks and glue... ;-)

15 posted on 10/06/2004 3:06:29 AM PDT by Marie (~shhhhh...~ The liberals are sleeping....)
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To: Mr. Silverback

Earning an award in AWANA is a considerable achievement. The kid prolly knows more scripture from memory than the Doc who condemned him has ever read.


16 posted on 10/06/2004 3:12:50 AM PDT by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")
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To: Askel5
But there is also that fundamental level where -- absent the opportunity to learn in person that a child with brain damage or genetic malfunction is every bit your essential "equal" (or sometimes "better") as a human being and having as a given the option to kill on sight such sub-humans -- I think we end up with a very skew notion of what is and is not Essentially human.

You are so right. Not a day has gone by that I haven't felt the deepest grief and pain for my son. And there hasn't been a day when he's felt sorry for himself. Not one day. He's teaching me more about courage, strength and heart by his example than I thought possible. Try feeling sorry for yourself when your kid can't go a day without nearly dying. Try to feel sorry for that kid when he gets up, brushes it off and goes back to playing. Yup. These kids DO teach us what it means to be human.

I'm really grateful to have stumbled across this thread tonight. It's good to have a reminder. Thank you.

17 posted on 10/06/2004 3:13:47 AM PDT by Marie (~shhhhh...~ The liberals are sleeping....)
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To: Marie
"He's the spice - the flavor - in our lives."

As I tell mine - "You're the rainbow in Mom and Daddy's sky."

18 posted on 10/06/2004 3:15:36 AM PDT by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")
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To: Mr. Silverback
As a Special Olympics coach for 6 years, I met many men and women with special needs. One of my favorites was Matthew. Matt was autistic, and difficult to get to know, because communication flowed in, but not out. Over the years, though, I came to be close friends with him.

It turned out that Matt had an excellently dry sense of humor, was a baseball statistician, an amateur meteorologist, and held firm political beliefs. He was, however,often unwashed and disheveled. He talked to himself as he walked through town to his job. He lived alone and it seemed to me that Special Olympics was his primary outlet and the source of all of his socialization.

One day, he fell down the steps at work, struck his head, and died. My wife and I thought we would be among the few mourners at the funeral service. We came early, sat in the front of the church with the family, and listened to the organ music. Just before the service was to begin, I noticed some noise behind me and turned around. I was shocked to see that the church was filled to standing room only - with friends, teachers, coaches, doctors, coworkers, bus drivers, police officers, therapists... It was larger than any funeral I had been to before.

In his need, Matt had called upon hundreds of people to give of themselves to help him along in life. I am firmly convinced that God places these special people in our midst to help us exercise the best parts of ourselves, our compassionate natures.

This is one of the favorite stories of my life and has formed the experiential basis for many big decisions that I have made. I am fiercely protective of those with special needs. I am also the adoptive father of my two special needs sons.

19 posted on 10/06/2004 4:01:55 AM PDT by Ol' Sox (Issa u Akbar)
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To: Mr. Silverback

We went through all of that, except that our daughter, who has DS, was born with very few of the markers for the syndrome. She's a bit behind her brothers, but she is really such a joy. When she comes to church, she dances and raises her hands to praise God. She loves music and people. Will my life be difficult? Yes, probably. But, I have 4 kids; it's bound to be difficult anyway.

We went through all of that ultrasound stuff and knew Joanna was going to be special. When I was confronted with the prospect of destroying her, I thought to myself,'which of my children would I abandon if, God forbid, they should happen to meet with a catastropic accident that would leave them mentally or physically disabled?' Of course, I would abandon none of them. So, why would I do this to my daughter who happened to be born with a few differences? The answer was simple. Today, I'm overjoyed to have Joanna in my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's easy to do the wrong thing, but it's hard to live with yourself; it's hard to do the right thing, but it's easy to live with yourself." quote by Rev. JW Nevius


20 posted on 10/06/2004 5:00:18 AM PDT by Neever
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