George Will’s Son, Rick Santorum’s Daughter, and Penny

George Will’s Son, Rick Santorum’s Daughter, and Penny May 9, 2012

I just realized that I forgot to tell you all that Quin Hillyer reviewed A Good and Perfect Gift in the American Spectator a few weeks ago. I remembered because he blogged about it again last week, in response to George Will’s column about his son Jon, who has Down syndrome and just celebrated his 40th birthday. In Hillyer’s original piece, La Vita e Bella, which used excerpts from A Good and Perfect Gift to reflect upon Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella, who has Trisomy 18, he writes:

Becker’s book is a remarkably candid, wonderfully moving memoir of events during the first two years of Penny’s life. It carries no political agenda, so it merits a light touch when its material is used in the context of a political candidate such as Santorum — but the points to be made here are not political at all, but rather cultural and humane.

Pre-echoing Santorum’s comment about Bella making us better and offering a gift rather than being a burden, Becker wrote (in a letter to her daughter): “When you were first born, I was worried, I didn’t know much about Down syndrome, and I was afraid. I’m not worried anymore. I am proud of you — our smart, funny, beautiful, delightful daughter. Thank you for being in our lives.”

He goes on to offer an extended quotation from A Good and Perfect Gift, and then concludes:

At its heart, this is not about politics. It’s about families, and human decency, and human potential, and the preciousness of human life. As Santorum said of the choice his family faced when Bella was born, “We’re gonna not focus on her dying; we’re going to focus on her living. And she’s been a wonderful, joyful, center of the universe, if you will, for our family for the past three years.”

And here is Amy Julia Becker: “Every day I become more and more clear that Penny is not a ‘Downs kid.’ Penny is a child with wonderful and fascinating aspects to her personality. Penny is a child who knows and loves her family, who has a big vocabulary and loves books, who blows kisses to anyone who says hello, who is learning to climb stairs, and, oh, yes, Penny is also a child who has Down syndrome.”

To read Hillyer’s full piece click here.

There are only a few celebrities and politicians with children with disabilities, and I’m grateful for people like George Will who every so often remind their readers that they love their children with Down syndrome. There are many good stories to tell about children and adults with Down syndrome. It should come as no surprise, but as countless others can affirm, we aren’t alone in loving our daughter.


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