Thursday, December 18, 2014

God Things

For some reason, this post will not maintain a consistent font size throughout. That's okay though, as long as you have x-ray vision toward the end of the post. Though tiny, I mean it just as much as the rest of the post - maybe even more. God things come in good packages. Don't adjust your screen - that wasn't a typo. I meant to say God things. Chromosomes are God things.

Sometimes I look into the eyes of my precocious, funny, sweet-natured, son and wonder how the world got so lucky.  How did I get so lucky? God must have loved us all so much to have handed out those God things known as extra chromosomes. True, they aren't for everyone. Only a select few are to know the wonder. The forever innocence. The dance of Down syndrome. 

"But Sherry, you don't know the heartache of waiting 9 months for the perfect child only to have your hopes and dreams crushed by a An extra chromosome called Down Syndrome," you might say.

That's true. Those of you who know me already know my story, how Charley came to live with us. 
Just because I didn't wait for 9 months for the perfect baby doesn't mean I didn't want one. The thing is, in my opinion, I got one. 

When I read about that nut case in Denmark who thought it would benefit the world if those who have been blessed with an extra chromosome were eliminated from the human race, I wept. Then I went directly to Amazon and purchased Mardra Sikora's essay, "Arguing Eugenics." 

Want to know more about this heated issue? Mardra explains it in this well-written essay that is grounded in research and personal experience, Mardra Sikora's "Arguing Eugenics" extends beyond the subject of genetic testing (for the purpose creating a society free from the burden of Down syndrome) and into the heart of a world in danger of eliminating much more than an extra chromosome. As a writer and mother of a young adult with Down syndrome myself, I applaud Sikora's ability to lay out the facts while making the reader think with their hearts through the logic of her son Marcus.

"Arguing Eugenics"(You can find it on Amazon), takes a subject often written about in medical and technical terms, and fine tunes the lens to so those unfamiliar with Down syndrome can see clearly how whole communities would suffer the consequences of eliminating often the most compassionate among us. If I were to sum it up, I would wager to say that a world without Down syndrome is a world in danger of reducing itself to breathing in and out. While Sikora does not glamorize naïveté regarding special needs individuals, be it children with cancer or those who are born with spinal bifida, rather, she is a realist who sees the value in every human life, while charging the rest of us to do the same. What gives anyone the right to decide who has value and who does not? What gives anyone the right to decide that another human being is a burden? I agree with Sikora one-hundred percent, no one has the right to set that criteria. Not Denmark, not anyone.

I found Sikora's essay to be an invaluable piece of research delivered with wisdom. Mostly, however, I found it to be a fair synopsis of the lives faced everyday by special needs families. There is no perfect person. Aiming for a perfect world filled with only perfect people (which means a world without that extra chromosome) is no world I want to live in. I cannot imagine a world without the unconditional love of individuals with Down syndrome. Apparently, neither can Sikora.

There is a society, however that does not agree. If Denmark is knocking on that door, I say don't open it. Be very afraid. When one knocks others do too. Before we know it, Down syndrome will cease to exist, and so will life as we know it for our loved ones who are game changers.

The choice is ours. Want a perfect world? Step right up. Get your one-way ticket to Denmark. Personally, I'd rather count my God things. My chromosomes. Want a world of perfect unconditional love and acceptance? Then send in the Down. Rock on, Marcus. Be that agent of change that Sikora writes about. Be that God thing. And listen up folks, don't even think of sweeping this one under the rug. Sikora is in the house.

We adopted Charley twenty-four years ago at Christmas time. Believe me, there is nothing you could wrap and stick under the tree that could come close to the gift God game me that day. It was the perfect God-thing gift. Did we know what to expect? What to do? How do do it? No. 

But here's one thing I do know. When I count my blessings, I count God-things. That includes chromosomes.

Merry Christmas to me.


Sherry Palmer is the author of "Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption" (available at Amazon)

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