JOURNEY WITH JONAH

Be an Advocate

It is time for me to start being an advocate for Jonah and others who have been born into this world with Down Syndrome.  (Also, those who weren’t born, but were aborted because they were diagnosed with an extra chromosome).  I have found out that when you have a child with Down Syndrome, you instantly have a common bond with other families that have walked that walk.  I have come into contact with some amazing parents via blogs all over the country.  All of our stories and journeys are lived and walked out differently, but in some sense are the same, and we know where we are all coming from.

Up until last year I was totally oblivious to this community, and I guess why should I have been aware of it?  I knew of the abortion rates for when a mother found out that there was a possibility that her baby had Down Syndrome, but that was about it.  I knew one couple at church who have a child with Down Syndrome; we didn’t know them well, but just in passing.  We now share a special bond with this family by the common denominator of also having a baby with Down Syndrome.  We have also met a family that I have ministered with at the abortion clinic in the past who have a daughter with Down Syndrome.  Outside of that, the blogging world has been my lifeline to seeing how other families live out their journeys with with DS.

In saying all of this, many of these blogs keep me in the loop on current events regarding DS and our world.  You see, just as Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) wanted to eradicate the feeble-minded and create a ‘super race’ of human beings, we are still seeing this same mindset in our nation today.  It is sad that we have people who believe they have the ability to determine the ‘quality of life’ of another human being.  This is one of the most popular excuses used as the reason to abort a child with DS.  And sometimes they’ll even tell you how your personal ‘quality of life’ will be affected if you choose NOT to abort your child.  We experienced this first hand.

Jonah’s Appointment with 4D Technician

In December of 2010, when Jonah was about 18 weeks gestational age in the womb, we went to meet Jonah via a 4D ultrasound.  The images that this technology displays are breathtaking!  If mothers who were contemplating abortion saw these images of their precious son or daughter and still aborted, I would concur that they would have no problem doing the deed themselves or taking the life of any other human being.  Their hearts are hardened towards the life of their very own offspring!

The technician played the role of tour-guide pointing out every little detail, from his hands and feet to his nose and ears and even giving us the news that this baby was indeed another boy!  Towards the end she did a quick check on some of the more technical portions of Jonah, like looking deeper into his major organs: the brain, lungs and heart.  She spent a lot of time looking at the heart.  I just figured this was a routine check-up she did.  I mean this was a huge event, all the kids were there with us, along with my mother.  She told us that when looking deeper at Jonah’s heart she wasn’t able to get the pictures she wanted to see.  Not really knowing what this meant, we were told to get another opinion to ensure that there were no issues.  As a 4D technician she wasn’t an actual medical doctor who was able to diagnose the issue she found.

In January we went and had an OBGYN  take a look at Jonah’s heart. She agreed that there was an issue with his heart and sent us to a specialist.  This is where we met the doctor who opened our eyes to the reality of how much our lives were about to change.  Even to this day I can tell you it is nothing like I thought it would be.

Jonah’s Appointment with the Fetal Medicine & Maternal Medicine Doctor

To begin, the technician who was tasked to take the pictures of Jonah’s heart for the doctor made sure that we were aware of every little nook and crannie on the screen.  She pointed out his toes, his ears, his nose, his face, his elbow…everything!!!  After we got the news from the doctor it was clear what she was doing.  She was helping a defenseless little baby in the womb.  She was being an advocate for little Jonah(!),  because she knew what the doctor was going to tell us.  I’m sure she has seen in the past a mother and father choose abortion.  And I’m sure she knew of the type of pressure and guilt that the doctor was going to lay on us. She laid it out to us first packaged with love and truth!

The doctor enters the room as we were talking with the technician about our kids and other small talk.  He sat down beside Joyce and began to look over Jonah himself.  When a doctor enters the room you know you are about to get the real scoop.  We hung on every word that proceeded from his mouth with hope.  Hoping he’d say it was all a mistake, what everyone else had already seen.  Hoping he would comfort us and say everything would be alright.  Doctors demand respect and in most cases deserve it. He stated the issues of his heart telling us his heart is basically functioning as two common chambers rather than four separate chambers.  He also goes over Jonah’s measurements and tells us that he is reading in the low percentile in terms of his head size and the length of his femur.  He then tells us that these are all hard-markers for Down Syndrome.

Option # 1

Next he gives us what our options are in his mind…The first option he threw out there was to “terminate” the pregnancy.  Stunned that this was even mentioned we just told him ‘no’ that wasn’t an option. The respect I had for this man at that moment bottomed out.  I wanted with all my might to reach across that table and punch him!  Who was he to come into this room and even mention this?  When he was moving the probe around on Joyce’s belly prior to this ‘discussion’, he kept saying that he (Jonah) was ‘hiding’ from him and would not cooperate with him to show him what he needed to see.  The hiding of Jonah all came into focus when I found out what his intentions were for Jonah.

Knowing that Joyce was about 26 weeks along at this time and knowing the abortion laws in North Carolina, I knew that the latest an abortion could be done was 20 weeks.  So why was he even offering this to us now?  The fact that this is an option for anyone is still beyond my understanding, especially with the technology we have today.  I mean really, how hard is it to determine what is growing in mommy’s tummy?  The lies of the past that a baby (or a fetus as they would call it) in the womb is a clump of cells and tissue should be a thing of the past.  It’s like if there was someone who still believed that the world was flat rather than round. They would be laughed at and mocked as the evidence is overwhelming that the earth is round.  As the Bible says: “The truth shall make you free”.  When will our society realize the truth that a little pre-birth human being in the womb is no different from you and me and deserves the same protection under the law as we post-birther human beings are entitled too?

I really regret the ‘what I didn’t say’ portion of this appointment, but more on that later.  Yes, we received some not so pleasant news and didn’t want to make it worse than it was. But a doctor advocating against life was rather disturbing.

Option # 2

Of course option two was to continue the pregnancy…which was given to us after trying to talk us into aborting.  In all of this he did mention how hard this would be on us.  And how terrible Jonah’s life would be.  He even told us that about 90% of married couples who have a special needs child end up divorcing and how we would surely need marital counseling.  How Jonah would take most of the attention away from our other children.  He really made Jonah out to be a real bad guy even before he was born….I can’t remember if he had anything positive to say or not.  After tussling with us for awhile he could have at least threw out the popular saying that “God only gives special needs children to ‘special’ parents”……I’m sure some of you have heard that one :)

Bad Jonah?

Again, I was still in minor shock, not of the news of the heart condition or the possibility of Jonah having Down Syndrome, but because of the words that so eloquently flowed from this doctor’s mouth; he was encouraging us to sign off on the extermination of our very own child! I now had eyes to see how this method of delivering the ‘bad news’ to expecting parents has got to be the most significant reason why we are seeing 90% of babies that are diagnosed pre-birth of having Down Syndrome being aborted.  Jonah sounded like a pretty terrible baby when he was in the womb.  I mean he was going to be the reason for our future marital issues, eventual divorce and years of counselling for our other, soon-to-be-neglected children.

But guess what?  The exact opposite has happened…Jonah is an integral part of our family.  Everyone loves on this little baby.  We don’t see Down Syndrome when we look in his eyes.  We see a son, a brother, a precious gift from God. Those words that were said by this doctor didn’t sway us in the least. I think of all of the moms and dads that were swayed though.  The ones who will never know the blessing that was given to them, because they trusted the words of this doctor or others like him rather than trusting in the promises of God and what their heart and conscience were telling them.

Yes, Jonah does demand more attention, but the answer is never to tear down, kill and destroy. The answer is to build up, encourage and love!  And love little Jonah is what we do.  Unconditional, unwavering love just as we have for all of our children and grandchild!

The Follow-up Call

I have been wanting to follow-up with the doctor referred to in this entry ever since that day.  We did have follow-up appointments at the same office, but never saw him again. Maybe that was on purpose, I don’t know. Recently I tried contacting him and he called me back.  I just wanted to ask him the question; why?  Why is abortion the first option that comes out of your mouth in instances like this?  I guess there wasn’t going to be an answer that would have popped on the light bulb over my head, but I just wanted to hear what he was going to say.  This is basically what he said: “This option is given because he doesn’t want to be sued for ‘wrongful life’.  Sad to say, but there are lawsuits that have been won due to this exact reason. (like this one from September of 2011 in Florida)

So what are we to do?  James 2:13For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

If we as individuals and as a society do not have mercy upon the weakest among us then we will be judged without mercy.  Do we really deserve God’s mercy and grace when we aren’t extending it to others?  According to this scripture in James we do not and will not….That my friend is a frightful place to be!

In Christ,

D

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One comment on “Be an Advocate

  1. Sheryl
    March 5, 2012

    Thank you, Dan, for your eloquent words on Jonah’s behalf. God gave little Jonah a wonderful father! He is a precious child. You are right. We will be judged by the measure we extend grace to others. Thank you for following up with the doctor who recommended abortion. That took courage to confront him. I pray your words hang in his conscience for the rest of his life. I pray he adjusts his approach. I know that doctors do all that to avoid “wrongful life” lawsuits…but their fear of these suits is causing the slaughter of untold thousands of innocent children like Jonah.

    A couple of years ago, our family was at a Pizza Hut enjoying a night out together. There were about 15 young adults with Down who had just participated in the Special Olympics. Their mood was festive and joyful, yet they had better manners than most folks. They were rejoicing and celebrating their accomplishments and wearing their medals. They had about 4 people with them who were helping, serving, and loving on them. I sat in our booth across the restaurant and literally wept with grief, as wave after wave of sorrow rolled over me. The Lord was clearly showing me their worth, their joy, their value. All I could think of were the untold numbers who had been slaughtered. I couldn’t stop imagining how many more of them should be all around us. I was filled with regret and shame for our culture. I think I shared in the Lord’s grief that evening, but I was a mess for my family. We all gained a wonderful, new perspective. I’m so grateful we were there to see them and experience their love and their joy.

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