Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why We Chose To Keep Her

We found out Beth had Down Syndrome the night she was born. It was 1984 and the life expectancy for someone with Down Syndrome was 25 years.

When Chuck came into my hospital room the next day, he came over to the side of my bed, took my hand and said, "We can still love her, can't we?" To be honest, I had never considered giving her up. It never even crossed my mind, but when he said that I knew that he felt the same way and we'd definitely be taking Beth home.

Then the doctor came in and told us our options. We could take her home, we could put her up for adoption, or we could put her in an institution. I was surprised that putting your baby in an institution was still an option in the 80's, I thought that wasn't done anymore. I remember being shocked that he even suggested it. I don't know what options they give parents today but I hope that's not one of them. 

We told him that our decision was made, we'd bring her home. From that point on, everything was geared for that. The nurses taught me how to nurse her, and watched me dress her for the first time. Everyone's plan was for us to take Beth home and it really helped me feel 'normal'. There were so many other things that put me in a different category from all the other new moms and I was so thankful that the hospital staff didn't question us or treat us any differently. Once our decision was made, that was that.

Chuck and I were worried about how our family would respond to her diagnosis and we even talked about how we should tell them. We decided it would be better if they all found out at the same time and we started calling everyone and asked them to come to the hospital. Of course while we had them on the phone, everyone asked if I was alright and then they'd ask if Beth was okay but we just told them that there were some things we needed to talk to them about. 

I was holding Beth when they all trickled in. We definitely wanted Beth there when we told them. We said she was showing signs of Down Syndrome, then we kind of held our breath for a minute. But we didn't need to worry because they were so supportive! One by one they started asking us questions about Down Syndrome, about what her development would be like, and they all wanted to hold her.

Even with family support we knew it wouldn't be easy. Actually we didn't know what it would be like, but we knew we would take her home, love her and just take life one day at a time. She was our daughter and it didn't matter if she had a disability or not, we were taking her home.

Beth at 5 months 

We chose to keep her because she was our daughter and for us, there was no other option.


Barb said...

Hi Cindy~

what a beautiful, tender post. And what a blessing your sweet little Beth is to your family, she is so beautiful!

I have always had a great love and tender spot in my heart for children with disabilities, especially Downs. These amazing kids have such a sweet spirit about them, they are so special, and just make me so happy. I can't imagine giving a child with a disability up for adoption, but, I have a dear friend who did adopt a sweet little girl with Downs, and she has been such a joy to her family. Everyone who knows her just falls in love with her, she is precious. They are very grateful for the parents that put her up for adoption. Their lives would be very empty without her, even though they had 6 other children. She was an answer to a prayer!

Give Beth a hug for me!!

Hugs and love,

Rebecca Jo said...

Don't you feel like Its a different world now when it comes to this? I have friends that just had a downs baby & its all just been so normal, like any other baby born. Nice to see.
So glad you had such good support. I'm sure it was so scary at the time. & now, it's just ordinary life, isn't it?
I love baby Beth... Ahhhhh

Billie Jo said...

This is the most beautiful, heartfelt post.
God blessed Beth with you as much as she blessed you, you know?
What a precious, beautiful baby!!!!

ellen b. said...

Beautiful. Love that last sentence. Glad you had good support and encouragement. Hopefully the encouragement is still there for you. Blessings.

Mom of 12 said...

This is so beautiful!

Preppy Empty Nester said...

This is such a beautiful, heartfelt post. I truly believe that God handpicks parents with the biggest hearts for the children that face the biggest challenges. I enjoy reading your adventures with Beth and have been saying little prayers that Beth finds a wonderful job which she enjoys and the people appreciate her. Enjoy your week.

Jak said...

Wow, institutionalization in the 1980s surprises me too! I found out about my daughter's Down syndrome when she was born and the doctors/nurses never talked about any options, everyone always just assumed we were taking her home. The people I know who found out about their child's Down syndrome when they were pregnant were given the option of abortion or taking her home at birth, no adoption or institutionalization.