29 April 2013

We Tested Positive for Down Syndrome. Now What?

I've been following the recent hype about controversial prenatal testing for genetic anomalies and I have mixed emotions.  Follow with me on my thought process...

First, read What is Down Syndrome.  My son is 4 months old and has Down syndrome.  I learned something new from this article AND I'm already 8 months into my research (4 months with a prenatal diagnosis and the first 4 months of Luke's life).  The learning will never end for us. 

Next, check this out What is Prenatal Testing? During my pregnancy, I completed the generic and very common quad marker screening and after it came back with "abnormal results", I completed the non invasive, diagnostic Verifi test, coupled with ultrasound imaging.

We tested positive.  Now what?  That's the real question, isn't it.  What do you do with the information you've been given?  If your answer is, "we won't do anything", why take the test in the first place?  I see three potential outcomes: 1.) do nothing 2.) cry a little, accept what will be and then research your butt off to prepare for baby's arrival or 3.) terminate the pregnancy. 

Although the testing has become the center of controversy because some say that the results become a vehicle for attempting to eliminate people with Down syndrome from our world population, to me it can be split into two categories, abortion and/or acceptance. 
  • I think the controversy is obviously about abortion.  I've mentioned before that there is this heart wrenching statistic out there that says on a worldwide basis, people who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy upwards of 92% of the time.  Read this article to learn more: What Exactly is the Termination Rate for Babies with Down Syndrome?  I can tell you this, after falling in love with baby Luke, I am so sad for families who have chosen this route - they have missed out on a very spiritual and personal growth experience and most of all, they have turned their face to a gift graciously given to them from Above..
  • I think the controversy is also about acceptance.  We live in a society that has made great strides with embracing diversity over the past few decades.  The opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome are more abundant than ever before.  I read this article recently and the author has done a nice job of explaining her views: All The Ways You Judge My Son.  Unfortunately, there are and will always be individuals who discrimate aganist those who are different, regardless of if they have Down syndrome, have another disability or even for reasons as obscure as someone not wearing the "right" clothes.  Discrimination isn't about Down syndrome, it's really about a lack of love, kindness and openness inside those who look down upon others.
Although I knew the option existed, I never considered abortion and I am so glad I didn't.  Having the prenatal diagnostic testing was really meaningful for us as it gave me time to emotionally prepare for Luke's arrival and afforded me the opportunity to move through the process of acceptance so that I was prepared to celebrate Luke.  Right or wrong, accepting (and even embracing) his differences, which in turn became our differences was a big part of my pregnancy.  Embracing diversity is a big deal.  Now, I'm excited about living our life with Luke.  I'm looking forward to learning about our second born - his personality, his unique abilities and gifts and the the meaning he brings to our family.  I'm looking forward to educating others about what Down syndrome means to us... raising awareness to the challenges that come along with the diagnosis and sharing how with love and hard work, an individual (and their family) can rise up and overcome the obstacles faced and in the end, how we will live a good and meaningful life. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

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