I Chose To Have My Child Knowing She Would Be Disabled
Three years ago, an Oregon couple successfully sued for “wrongful life” after their child was born with Down Syndrome. The parents claimed the hospital was negligent after failing to properly diagnose prenatally, thereby eliminating their choice to abort the child (via The New York Daily News).
Statistics now show that 92 percent of babies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome are aborted (according to ABC News).
Stories like these hit close to home. Because for me, the ability to choose whether to give a child life is more than a political issue—it’s personal.
Decisions We Hope We Never Have to Make
In 2000, my firstborn was prenatally diagnosed with multiple severe disabilities. I’d like to say how brave and solid I was after receiving the diagnosis, but to be honest, I was scared to death.
We all hope we’ll do the right thing when tough decisions arise. But sometime, life is hard and the decisions we face aren’t as clear as black and white.
What do we do when the worst case scenario becomes reality and the experts’ advice conflicts with our beliefs?
Choosing life was my first reaction, because I believe God doesn’t make mistakes. But even still, I was ashamed of my fear and doubt. I was so confused I didn’t know how to pray.
Could I ask God to heal her or was that not accepting His will, as if shaking my fists at heaven?
Was I being punished or blessed? Because I really wasn’t sure.
What I feared was a curse was one of God’s greatest gifts.
I quickly grew to hate the saying, “God gives special kids to special people,” because I knew I’d pass on her disability in a heartbeat if I could. Secretly, I mourned the loss of my dreams during the weeks that followed, and I hated myself for it. I wanted to be strong and confident but I was weak and broken.
God didn’t leave me in my doubts. And if you’re a parent like me or anyone who is facing a life-changing diagnosis, He won’t leave you in your doubts either.
The Process That Prepared Me To Parent A Disabled Child
Philippians 4:6 says to not be anxious because we can take our requests to Him. When my doubt was deepest, I did the only thing I knew to do. I knelt and cried out to the only One who could help me.
When I admitted I didn’t know how to pray and asked God for direction, He answered me through the story of a leper in Luke 5. The leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Luke 5:12). The leper didn’t just ask for healing. He wholeheartedly acknowledged Jesus’ ability to heal, while ultimately accepting whatever came.
2. Be Still
Psalm 46:10 says to be still. I trust He has a good plan for my life, so I wait for Him to bring it about, especially when things don’t feel so good.
I prayed and sought His word, but I also had to “be still” as He worked it out in my life. The process of letting Him change me and get me ready for a child with disabilities wasn’t instant or easy.
3. Move Forward
Mark 5:35-36 says to just believe. Faith becomes reality as we chose to trust God and to take Him at His Word before we know the outcome.
That was what I needed to do. In those words, I found permission to ask God for the deepest desires of my heart fully knowing He was capable of healing my daughter. But at the same time, I knew I had to submit to whatever God chose for me, understanding that His ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9). This process will look different for everyone, but God’s promises remain the same.
This process will look different for everyone, but God’s promises remain the same.
Today, my daughter has many challenges but glorifying God isn’t one of them. I have to choose to set my own desires aside and serve God, but she wakes up each morning and is exactly who God wants her to be. She is perfection in who she is, and every day God works through her to “perfect” those she meets.
Disability was not what I sought out. But fourteen years later, I can see that what I feared was a curse was one of God’s greatest gifts.