A couple who have just had a baby with Down syndrome have written to me and Eileen Haupt, my co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome), sharing their joy at their son’s birth and asking how they can help advocate for babies with Down syndrome. March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. Here is my response:
How wonderful to hear from you and to know that another special family has been born! Congratulations on the birth of your baby. May God bless him with good health!
I did not have prenatal testing to find out that Christina who just celebrated her 12th birthday had Down syndrome because I feared I might be subjected to harassment if they discovered my baby had Down syndrome. If I had a more pro-life practitioner I would not have hesitated since MaterniT21 is non-invasive. Knowledge is a good thing and can help you prepare for your baby’s birth.
I just attended a lecture by obstetrician Dr Paddy Jim Baggot at the pro-life AAPLOG conference in Washington DC and he has had amazing results from moms who chose to take mega vitamins while expecting babies with Down syndrome. Now that is a positive use of pre-natal screening!
Here's a list of things I thought you might be able to do to encourage other parents who are expecting a baby with Down syndrome.
1. Post on our Facebook page Keep Infants with Down syndrome.
2. Write your birth story and let me share it on Keep Infants with Down Syndrome blog. http://keepinfantswithdownsyndrome.blogspot.com/
3. Friend me on Facebook and pass along my posts about Down syndrome. Here is a wonderful loving video from people with Down syndrome to a mom fearful about having a baby with Down syndrome. We parents and advocates made it have nearly a million and a half views in only one week.
4. Ask your pastor to invite me to speak and have a book signing of A Special Mother is Born at your local parish or Down syndrome affiliate. It is also available on Kindle for only $2.99.
5. Have your local radio or TV station call me for an interview. Here is a sample interview.
6. Write your story as an Op Ed for World Down syndrome Day in your local or parish paper.
7. Join your local Down syndrome group and encourage them to visit new and expectant moms, and get good pamphlets about Down syndrome into the hands of obstetricians. Offer to let them meet your son.
8. Wear a t-shirt with a positive message about Down syndrome When people ask you about it, share your son's story.
9. Share that story with your obstetrician, pediatrician, Nurse, hospital chaplain and social worker if you haven't already.
10. Buy a few copies of A Special Mother is Born in Spanish, Ha Nacido Una Madre Especial and donate them to a local Spanish speaking parish Get me invited to speak there (I am bilingual)
11. Make sure you download and print out this pro-life booklet full of prenatal testing information that does not recommend abortion.
12. Raise money for the pro-life Jerome Lejeune Foundation.
13. Get to know the French geneticist who discovered trisomy 21 the cause of Down syndrome by reading his daughter Clara Lejeune Gaymard's biograhy, Life is a Blessing.
14. Read my interview of Clara Lejeune Gaymard
(Dr. Paddy Jim Baggot)
15. Read Barbara Curtis' wonderful article on Dr Lejeune in Celebrate Life.
16. Start a parent support group for special needs parents at your parish.
17. Sign up for Google alerts whenever Down syndrome appears in the news. When articles arrive in your inbox. comment to encourage expectant moms to give birth to babies with Down syndrome.
18. Ask your local TV/radio stations whether they are running a piece on World Down syndrome Day events. Be ready to be interviewed telling your son’s story.
19. Get to know Dr Brian Skotko a great advocate for our friends with Down syndrome.
20. Do not be discouraged by the attitude you encounter in the world, we are making a difference. I see a huge change from 2002 when my daughter was born to today, on the Internet, TV, radio, fashion, ads, magazines, etc. Just look at how blogger Jezebel reacts to the positive video, "Dear Future Mom".
21. Do not be afraid to take your baby anywhere, his smiling face is a sign of hope and will make many converts to the idea that Down syndrome is not a curse, but a blessing which the world too often fails to recognize.