Monday, March 21, 2011
Today has been designated World Down Syndrome Day. Pictured above is the man who discovered the cause of Down syndrome. More about him in a minute. Because he rocks.
And I figure anything that rasies awareness about the individuals born with Down syndrome--and their accomplishments, struggles, and lives--is a good thing.
I have always passionately believed that there is a dignity to life, one that cannot be minimized or trivialized, regardless of one's standing in society and regardless of the way in which they are born. I participated in my first pro-life walk (to raise money for a crisis pregnancy center) when I was but 9 years old. I remember, at age 11, spending a day at a ranch hanging out with middle school students who were developmentally delayed. Then I volunteered with Special Olympics in junior high school. While I was far from being a saint (do you cringe when you think about the stupid things you used to do/think/say, or is that just me?), these things were on my radar screen and embedded in the very depths of my heart from a young age. Instilled in my by my parents--so, so grateful to them for that. (And who says kids don't listen to their moms and dads?)
As you all know, I am about to adopt two little girls who were both born with Down syndrome. NOT because I have any desire to be an activist. (We can all agree that is a horrible motive for adopting a child. So that is definitely not what I'm trying to say here.) But because we are open to life. Feel called to adopt. And there were two little girls who needed a home. We didn't think Down syndrome should matter in that sense. It is something our family will embrace and address.
My beliefs about dignity and life feel so much more personal now.
All of a sudden, it's not simply me being frustrated-from-afar by the way people treat those who are different from them--it's my future daughters we're talking about. Who are children that happen to have Down syndrome.
What a legacy Jerome has left. Just Google his name, and you can find dozens of articles about him, and books he has written, all in the name of life. (I feel a little proud too that my husband's middle name is Jerome, as well as one of my sons' middle names. Not a bad guy to share your name with!)
This man exemplifies so much of what World Down Syndrome Day ought to mean. May we all have the courage and conviction of Jerome Lejeune!
World Down Syndrome Day and the legacy of Jerome Lejeune