Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Down Syndrome & God's Love
Until I arrived at Bridge St. UC this morning I wasn't aware that this is World Down Syndrome Day, or that there is a such a day, for that matter. There is a family which is very much a part of our congregation with three children who have Down Syndrome, although they are becoming adults in a hurry. One is in his mid-twenties, is a successful athlete, and is training in a culinary arts program. The two daughters are teens now, and the older of the two assists in the nursery. All three are open, active persons, affectionate and friendly, and I admire their parents for the commitment to give them every opportunity to be engaged in every aspect of life, including Christian community. Bridge St. wouldn't be the same without them, nor would other congregations I've served with members who have Down Syndrome.
I have mentioned before that both Ruth, my wife, and Isaac, our son, have worked in group homes with Down Syndrome residents. These folk have their own personalities, likes and dislikes, as well as loves. They are persons, made in the image of God, deserving every opportunity to grow and flourish.
It's important that societal attitudes have changed over time and it hadn't occurred to me that there is a new challenge for those with Down Syndrome. As genetic testing in the womb becomes more sophisticated there is a greater possibility that Down fetuses may be aborted.
A conference held yesterday that included Down speakers explored this difficult topic. There is now a “non-invasive” prenatal blood test which gives parents a 99% indication of the Down’s status of their baby. It is being heavily promoted throughout the world and many governments have started implementing it into public healthcare.
When our daughter-in-law was pregnant with their first child they were made to feel uncomfortable by a doctor who was quite insistent that she have this test. They declined, in part because of the work Isaac had done in the group home, and also on the basis of their moral and faith convictions.
Any observations or comments this World Down Syndrome Day?