The Good Stories About Down Syndrome

There is so much I want to write in response to yesterday’s post (I Tested and I Terminated and I Do Not Regret) and the comments here, on Facebook, and in my email inbox. Thank you to everyone who has participated in the conversation so far, and please continue to do so. I want to write about my decision to give space on this blog to a story about termination (some commended me for it, others saw it as a betrayal and/or fruitless exercise). I want to write about why women choose termination when presented with a prenatal diagnosis, as most women do. I want to write about the collective consequences of individual decisions (i.e. fewer children with Down syndrome as a result of many individuals choosing to terminate) and the individual decisions informed by collective action (a culture that disdains/discriminates against individuals with disabilities contributes to women making those individual decisions). I want to revisit a question I wrote for Motherlode a few years back–Is It Harder to Have a Child with Down Syndrome? But a snowstorm is here and my kids don’t have school and it might be good to wait a bit on all those thoughts and responses anyway. And one of my hopes for this blog, in addition to being a place for gracious and respectful debate, is that it will be a place where people can imagine a good life that includes both physical and intellectual disability.

So instead I will share two good stories about people with disabilities (along with some pictures of our family, just because…). The first story is an article I wrote for The Christian Century: Roommates and Friends: A Seminary Does Disability Ministry. I loved working on this story because it demonstrates the way a community can engage in mutual giving and receiving, mutual blessing, when those with disabilities are incorporated into the fabric of life. In the story I write about how Matt Floding, former Dean of Western Seminary, came to build a house for seminarians to live side-by-side with local adults with disabilities:

At the time, Western Seminary needed more housing for its students. Floding came up with an idea: if students from Western and adults with cognitive disabilities could live side by side, it would benefit the individuals involved, the seminary community and the larger Holland community. His assumption was that both groups had needs and both had assets and that their living together would offer mutual blessings.

Read the story to get a taste of what can happen when communities open their eyes, their arms, their wallets, and their hearts to one another. (And great news, Friendship House Durham is now on its way as well…)

I have also been invited to contribute a monthly blog post to a new website, not-alone.org. It’s a faith-based website designed to connect and support parents of children with special needs. My post over there (How Much Does God Love You?) will be familiar to some of you as it’s a reprint of something I’ve already written here, but I hope you’ll check it out in order to get connected to the community and other writers.

All the photos thanks to Anna Kjellson.

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).

Comments

  1. Before moving to Iowa for my current job 4 years ago, I taught in special education in Holland, MI, for 23 years and also was an adjunct at Hope College in special education. I enjoyed reading your article about Friendship House and recognized so many names from our years in Holland. I am glad that the Friendship House project is expanding and that another college is considering building a similar opportunity.

  2. Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing.

    In regards to yesterday’s post, I just want to say, you blogging about it doesn’t change who you are to me. I admit I was surprised to see that on here, but it opened my eyes to whats real and why people make the decisions they do. Of course I am saddened to think someone could just get rid of a child like it’s disposable, but here’s proof it happens more often than not. I found myself drawn in and kept reading to see if I could understand. Fortunately I could not, not at all, since I have a daughter who is almost 3 with Ds. It was never question for us, she isn’t a choice she’s our child.

    • Denise,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. I will (I hope) write more about this, but I think it’s very important to understand the reasons why so many women choose abortion so that we can consider if change is possible. Thanks again, Amy Julia


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