By Michelle Tesori. This reply was originally written and posted on Michelle Tesori's Twitter account @mrstesori in response to Ruth Marcus' editorial in The Washington Post titled "I would've aborted a fetus with Down Syndrome. Women need that right." Michelle's response was discussed on the national radio broadcast of The Public Square®.
After reading the opinion piece (now for the second time after a friend sent it to me again this am) written last May in the @washingtonpost by @RuthMarcus, I find myself struggling to find the right words. But I’m gonna give it a shot.
First, hi Ms Marcus! Meet our son Isaiah. Perhaps if you took the time to get to know him or anyone with Down syndrome, your declaration that you would terminate any pregnancy with a Ds diagnosis might be put on pause, even if for a moment.
I think the thing that struck me most about your post was this: “I’m going to be blunt here. That (a child with Down syndrome) was not the child I wanted.” Let me ask you this, what did you want? No. Seriously. What?
You have 2 beautiful girls. Like all parents I’m sure you imagined an amazing life for them. We did . I’m sure you had dreams for them. We did for Isaiah.
I’m sure some of what you “wanted” in and for Emma and Julia won’t become reality. In fact, I know it. There has been but ONE perfectly lived life, and that life ended on a cross on a hill where His blood spilled out so that you and I could live.
If there were some magic ball and you knew Emma or Julia would not be perfect (spoiler alert: this is happening!), would you have chosen to terminate before you knew who they would be? Wait. Let me ask a different way.
If your phone rang today one of your girls had an accident and the result was an intellectual difference, would you feel the same way? “This isn’t the child I wanted”? What if they hurt your feelings? Rejected you? Broke the law? Fell in love with Jesus. Were pro love?
Pro love: choosing to love someone exactly where they are. Pro love is John ["Frank"] Stephens, when asked this week how he felt about aborting a child with Down syndrome: “I don’t want to make it illegal. I want to make it UNTHINKABLE”. Continuing, he said...
"Politicians change laws. I want to change people's hearts.” Last year, Frank proudly stood before Congress and declared “I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living!” I believe he was speaking to you, too, when he made the following 3 points:
We could spend all day in #2: “We are an unusually powerful source of happiness”. Indeed, Frank. You are right, my friend. I get a front row seat to it every. single. day. But may I ask you to consider #1 for a moment: “people with Down syndrome are a medical gift to society”.
What if you or one of your girls was diagnosed with cancer or Alzheimer's? And what if the child you “didn’t want”, so chose not to have was the key to saving your life or the life of your other children? Would that child with Down syndrome be what you wanted then?
I am a million percent certain your daughters will change the world. In one small way or thousands of small ways or in big big ways. Jeremiah 29:11. Spoiler alert: they’re gonna be challenging at times too. Cmon, you & I were both teenage girls: no one comes out unscathed!
But as their mom, aren’t you glad for the journey? Aren’t you thankful for the skinned knees and their first breakups? Those hard parenting moments? The ones that keep you up at night and the ones that break your heart? We can only have those moments if we choose to welcome them.
Same as the moments that make your heart burst with happiness and love spills out of your mama veins like a volcano erupting. The first time they smile at you. Their first day of school. When they are kind to a friend. Spoiler alert: I have those moments too.
You have a powerful voice. With that comes responsibility. I see your words, hear the palpable fear of the burden you believe a child with Down syndrome would be to you... and to the world. I see you believe Isaiah’s life choices will be limited. Which means others have seen it.
I see you right where you are, mama. I’m pro love! But I love you too much to you believe that’s the only place to be. Parenting is a gift. There are about 6.1 million women in the US alone struggling with infertility, willing to do anything to be a mom. They grieve every day.
They are desperate to hear their child yell “mama” (over & over & over if they don’t reply fast enough!), to see their child sign I love you, or to feel love thru the warmth of their son or daughter’s skin against theirs if they aren’t able to communicate verbally or visually.
You know this feeling! I know you know it. Your girls are gifts. To you. To the world. What a loss it would be to you and the world not to have them and all the things they bring to this life. A true gift. Thank you for the gift that they are!
So is Isaiah. He is a gift that keeps on giving. Would you like to meet him? Hold his hand? We would love that! HE would love that. Because he IS love. Because if you don’t, you’ll never know what you’re missing. I guarantee he will touch your heart.
And because once you’ve met him, I’m confident you’ll leave realizing your time with him was a gift you never knew you wanted but can’t imagine not having experienced. It’s amazing what we learn we DON’T know about what we THINK we want when we open our hearts to the unknown.
I can’t promise a change on your political stance, but I can absolutely guarantee a change in your heart. And out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45.
Feel free to message me. We’d love to meet you! God bless!
Oh and PS. You and I COMPLETELY agree on one thing! “Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family.” In actuality, it’s life-altering for the world! And thank God for that. Fact: everyone in these photos are beneficiaries of a life altered.