We are the Stow Family and this is our story. Our lives are blessed by Love, Joy and Hope. Follow our sometimes interesting stories on loving our two boys, exploring parenthood, and celebrating a little extra - two parents, two boys and an extra chromosome!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A question of life & death

I started this blog primarily as a place to write love letters to my son, so that one day he might be able to glimpse at this time in his life through my words. And although I am going to still do that, there are times when I feel I want to say things that are not aimed at my little one, but just general thoughts and feelings. So, I am going to start using this blog as a place for me to share my own thoughts and feelings as well!

Having said that, I would choose a very controversial subject to start with!! LOL! It's just that I came across a statistic a while back that really bugged me... 91% of all people faced with a diagnosis of Down syndrome through amniocentesis will choose to abort the baby.

I have always considered myself to be Pro-Choice - y'know... it's your body, your choice. But my support of Pro-Choice was always been based on abortion due to the mother's circumstances... poverty, rape, age etc. I never really thought about it in terms of aborting for 'medical reasons' (this is the tidy, clean-conscience term used for aborting due to a scary diagnosis). And this has weighed heavily on my mind the past week or so... I look at my son, my beautiful, amazing son and I think that 91% of the people around me would have chosen to kill him. That's blunt, but its the bottom line. I look at my son, into his beautiful eyes... I look at him across the room and now he smiles back at me (bless him!)... I watch him as he's starting to master the idea of being on his tummy... as he sleeps at night, snoring softly... and then I think - 91% of people don't think he has the right to life, to love, to freedom and the persuit of happiness. And even more hurtful for me as a mother is that when he gets older, he may realise that fact as well...

At a dinner the other night, a friend of mine who has another friend who choose to abort their baby with Down syndrome told me that they live with a terrible, heavy guilt everyday of their lives... I felt compassion for them, of course! To choose to kill your child cannot be easy to do or to live with. I don't for one second think it is a choice taken lightly or without immense pain. But she said they were plagued by thoughts of 'what if their test results were wrong or mixed up and their unborn baby was actually ok'.Oh. They are not sad because they decided a life with Down syndrome IS worth living... but just in case their unborn child was in fact 'perfect' and not 'broken' as they had been told. They cry and mourn their 'perfect' child, while the reality of their little unborn child with Down syndrome is negated.

And seeing that this post is taking a very serious turn (this subject can never be light I suppose)... I wanted to ask 91% of people out there... If your doctor had a crystal ball and told you that at age 4 your child would run infront of a car and become severely handicapped as a result - would you abort now? What if your doctor could tell you that your child would nearly drown and become handicapped because of that - would you abort? Would the idea of perfection that the world has sold us, and that we have swallowed up, be that important to you that you would be willing to kill for it?

A life or death issue becomes a question of perfection... whatever that may be. All at once I am not sure that anything is perfect and then I am sure that everything is perfectly in order. I look at my son and I love him, I love him... I ache with love for him... for a child that 91% of people would choose to kill... my child...


Deqlan said...

Loren you write so beautifully , you have such a gift of saying things in such a great way - you have made me and i am sure all your followers think about this horrific statistic. Malakai you are gorgeous it was lovely to spend some time with you by the sea! God Bless and lots of love Mark Samm Deqlan Logan

Jessica said...

I am in the 9% that chose to keep my pregnancy and child after receiving a prenatal diagnosis. And strangely enough, I too live a guilt. Just like you, I look at my amazing beautiful sparkling talented son and just burst with pride and love. And behind those feelings is the guilt that I struggled over my prenatal decision. I want to be able to say that to my son that I never for one second doubted him, or myself as his mother. But I have my little boy to kiss and hug to tell me it's okay. I feel for those others that have only the guilt and shame.

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I have also tried to write about this topic and you have done so beautifully. I too wonder, what if there was a genetic test for autism, for schizophrenia, for ADD, would you abort your child? I am so afraid of a society in which only perfection is regarded worthy for life. This is one topic I cannot let go of, I cannot live with that percentage existing. Malakai, Joaquin and all the other amazing children with DS will change the world. I know it.

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. Very beautifully written. I cannot really fathom being in that exact situation as we did not have prenatal testing. I can report though we have had almost 20 really amazing years.

Leigh & Kim Pomario said...

Oh Loren, my dear sister. You are such a creative writer. You are able to bridge such controvesial topics with ease and make people sit up and listen. I really think you should write a book, or something similar. You are amazing and were meant to do amazing things. Just do it!!!
Love Leigh

Soon-to-be Mommy and Daddy!! said...


I am 6 months pregnant right now and our daughter has been diagnosed with AV Canal Defect~a heart condition commonly associated with Downs. I have not had an amnio because we knew there was nothing we were going to do any differently, our baby is still our baby whether she has it or not. It saddens me to think that 91% of people would choose to abort, I feel like either way our daughter was chosen for us for a reason. Your son is so handsome, and seems to be surrounded by love and pride and that is awesome for any kid. I know you don't know me but I just wanted to say that people like you help people like me just by being you. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I, too, am in the 9% that chose to keep my baby. And funny enough, it was a phonecall from my sister, who had my three month old niece at the time, and who asked me the same questions that you asked the 91% of women out there. Because of that reasoning, I felt safer, more sure, that I indeed could be the mother of a baby with special needs. Now, I couldn't imagine our lives without Gabe as who he is. I'm very grateful for my sister's "intervention" sort of speak.

rickismom said...

When a doctor asked me why I didn't do amniocentesis, I just answered:
"Are you perfect?
Am I perfect?
I don't believe in killing people just because they aren't perfect...."

and 14 years later, I have no regrets

Conrad, Megan and Our Precious Keaton said...

Dear Loren, your writing continues to amaze me, inspire me and teach me! Stay the amazing mom you are to little Malakai - you are both so blessed to have each other! There is a reason for everything! God bless, Megs

Lorraine said...


Where to start? A roller-coaster of emotions rushing through me: love, sadness, shock, compassion, anger… 91%! Can’t be! Something must be missing in the equation – how can I make the % lower!
Through your courage and blatant honesty you have started to enlighten the world, and this will is how to make the % lower. I adore you.

My reality is that everyone is 100% perfect. A very wise lady, Byron Katie, describes perfection so perfectly…

I once did The Work with a woman who was ashamed of her fingers. She had come down with rheumatoid arthritis when she was seventeen, and afterward she believed that her fingers were deformed. They weren't normal, she thought, and she suffered a lot from that belief. But her fingers were normal: they were normal for her. They were the fingers she had woken up with every day since she was seventeen. For twenty-seven years they were her normal fingers, and she hadn't noticed.
How do you react when you believe that what is isn't normal for you? Shame, sadness, despair. Who would you be without that thought? At ease with your condition and loving it, whatever it is, because you would realize that it is completely normal, for you. Even if 99.99% of other people look a different way, their normal isn't your normal: this is your normal.
That tree out there, let's go out and give it a talking-to, it's all bent, every branch of it, and I don't think it has a clue that it's not normal. And while we're at it, let's discuss God too, because he made a big mistake, he really botched that tree, it's supposed to grow straight, and let's devote our lives to straightening it out. That kind of argument with reality was what was going on in this dear woman, and that was what caused her suffering, not her fingers.

Chrystal said...

What a great post. I'm proud of your ability to share so honestly and eloquently.

Caden Paul said...

Loren, As you can see from all the comments, you are really touching people with your words, and after our conversation Saturday night I realise that the world needs you as a spokesperson! I am honoured to be your friend and to have a first class seat into this wonderful new world of adventure, love, learning and acceptance.

Thank you for being my friend, teacher, and motivator!


Granny said...

Dearest Kai
Your mom is an absolutely wonderful woman. You can actually feel the love by the words she has written. I was privileged to see and cuddle you when I was in Pretoria now recently. You are precious and ever so friendly. I am so pleased that you are one of Caden's friends and just the way the two of you smile at each other and your eyes lighten up brings peace into my heart. May God continue to bless you and your parents. Will see you again soon and keep a special hug for me.
Lots of love
Marilyn (Caden's gran)

Ferreira Family said...

Dear Loren

Thank you for the stats. I know you have opened a lot of people's eyes toward DS and you will continue to do so.

This is so wonderfully written and conveyed.

The world needs more people like u to stand up for the little beings that cannot talk. You are amazing and although we do not know each other that well, I continue to learn form your words and look up to you.

Malakai is beautiful and Perfect in every way!


heather said...

Wow! I just found your blog from my sitemeter and am excited to read all your posts but this is the first one I have read and LOVED it! I love your attitude and thoughts! I look forward to following your blog as you go on this journey. The first year is the craziest--then it just becomes life as you know it and you wouldn't change a thing! :)

Lisa said...

Loren, first I want to say what a beautiful family you have. What a gorgeous little boy. I found out about your blog through another fellow blogger (isn't the blogging Ds community wonderful?) and am enjoying what you write very much - very moving stuff, and so much I can relate to. My chromosomally enhanced little boy (my 6th child) was born in July, so I'm probably pretty close to where you are in your journey. I look forward to following your blog.

Rossouw family said...

Loren & Darryl.....your baby boy, Malakai is beautiful & your blog is absolutely inspirational:-)Arin has been following it with me everyday & she seems to be very excited when i show her the pics of all the other 'babas'!We are looking forward to our visit in Feb & getting to meet little Malakai....xxLuv, Morne, Nicky & Arinxx

Anonymous said...

When we got the diagnosis that our newborn daughter had Down syndrome, *I* had to grieve the loss of that "perfect" baby I had imagined.

But I was the broken one. I just didn't realize my precious little daughter WAS perfect.

I wrote about this statistic a while back, and I wondered whether parents would abort if they knew their child would be an alcoholic.

I've never commented here before, so I have to say: Malakai is ADORABLE!!! Makes me miss that stage.

(Word verification: fatedn. Freudian??)

Sharon said...

I, too, have always considered myself pro-choice. But, after having my baby with Down syndrome and learning of the staggering termination rate associated with Down syndrome....I have started to reconsider. I saw someone recently describe themself as pro-choice, but anti-eugenics and anti-people making choices without complete and accurate information. I thought that was a perfect was to describe how I feel.

Thanks for this and all of your other posts. I really enjoy following your blog and your sweet baby Malakai.