A recent documentary on CBS touts Iceland’s pride in almost having eradicated Down Syndrome in their country. To Iceland, I say…
There are some things you should know. I have a heartfelt concern for your citizens who feel so much pressure to conform to your view of perfection, a world without Down Syndrome. I feel saddened for the mother who receives a prenatal diagnosis, and all you tell her is that her child is not worthy of life. I feel anguished that she feels there is no support, there is no tribe, there is no compassion for her and her child. I feel genuine empathy that she is led to believe that the life she would be about to embark on is not one you will celebrate. I actually don’t hate that mother at all, I hate what you have told her.
You see, when a mother receives a prenatal diagnosis, she is confused, she is sad, she is shocked and you tell her that your country is no place for her child. Here where I live, there are the same emotions, but the difference is… there is support. There are doctors who suggest termination, sure, but there are also groups, non-profits, and parents who want everyone to know that children with Down Syndrome are worth every moment of fear, doubt, and confusion that comes with a diagnosis. This rings true even if there are any subsequent health issues to be overcome. The information here has a long way to go, but it is far better than what you are presenting and there are individuals, like myself and a number of other bloggers as well as groups like 21_Connect, Global Down Syndrome Foundation and DSDN who are working hard for a change.
Iceland, what you don’t know is that the ripples that are caused by the birth of a child with Down Syndrome are far-reaching and they tickle the souls of those who were once ignorant. They are not ripples that drown and maim those they touch, they are ripples of compassion, love, and kindness. The ripples that affect the distant Facebook friends from times past, the ripples that affect the friend’s mom’s sister’s child who also has Down Syndrome and now knows of someone else because a picture was shared on social media.
God doesn’t make mistakes, he didn’t make a mistake when he created a child with an extra gene, he gave a gift. This is a gift that will bring out the best in most people. This gift will cause ignorance to be erased in circles that touch each child born. This is the gift of a child who will change people if they allow it. This gift is not a burden but a window into how sweet, loving and innocent a soul can be.
Iceland, you may be beautiful, but you are unkind and uninformed at best. Just see the little boy in this video to know that is true. Thank you, Colden, and family (on Instagram @21_Connect) for sharing your letter to Iceland too. Cedar and I wholeheartedly agree!