Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heartless Mother or Just Needing Time?

 I recalled knowing several loving parents of Downs babies; 3 originally wanted their baby to die, 1 gave hers away, and another was depressed. 

     What kind of mother threatens her husband to abandon their newborn?  You may have heard about Ruzan Badalyan who threatened divorce if the father, Samuel Forrest refused to abandon their Down Syndrome newborn. Samuel shared his story, claiming that his wife left him in her native Armenia.

Ruzan is accused of not wanting a child that would bring shame upon the family.  She later claimed that’s not true, but that together they thought the child would be better off raised in Samuel’s native New Zealand.  She said he left and never even asked her to join them. Whatever the truth, he has the baby and she doesn’t, so sympathy and disgust are falling into respective places.
My first reaction followed suit until I recalled knowing several loving parents of Downs babies; 3 originally wanted their baby to die, 1 gave hers away, and another was depressed.  That is, until they all fell madly in love with their babies.
Since much of the rest of the world fears the disabled, Ruzan’s reaction should be no surprise. Down Syndrome babies are aborted in 9 out of 10 pregnancies. Ruzan might just need time to overcome rampant cultural prejudice. In a society that kills these innocent babies, why wouldn’t she react with fear?

Prayed for God to Take Her Baby
Liz Gary first shared Watch What You Pray For in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart.  She had always feared people with Downs, so she was devastated when an ultrasound showed her unborn son had the condition. “I prayed, ‘God please take this little angel; this is more than I can handle,” she said.
When it was discovered he had an additional condition—this one fatal-- everything seemed divinely settled for her, although Mike was deeply saddened.  Three weeks later, however, the baby's heart remained strong. “I could feel him in my womb constantly kicking and moving,” Liz said.  “Then something began to happen that I had not anticipated. I began to fall in love with him. Suddenly, all the love of which I was capable welled up within me and cried out for my baby. I loved him so much and did not want him to die.” 
Mike, Liz & Dustin Gary
Liz and her husband Mike prayed for a miracle—to let their baby live. Dustin was miraculously healed of his other fatal condition, and Liz and Mike fell head over heels in love with their son.  Later, for the Amazing Grace for Married Couples book, Liz shared another deeper aspect of that story. In reality, she had been miserable in her marriage but the love she and Mike shared for Dustin, overflowed and renewed their marriage.

Parents Wished Their Daughter Would Die
In the story Fearing my Daughter which first appeared in Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families, Tom Mahala admitted that he and his wife initially hoped their Down Syndrome daughter would not survive the open-heart surgery she needed in a few months.
“If she dies as a result of her surgery the pain will be over for all of us,” Tom admitted thinking. “Those were not the thoughts we wanted, but the ones we had,” he said.
Bonnie’s motherly love soon grew strong. It did not hit Tom until he was taking Grace to her surgery. “As I held Grace prior to her surgery, and then eventually walked down to the operating room with her, my heart swelled with emotion. Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine losing my little baby girl and my heart ached for the pain she would have to go through. When I laid her on that operating table and they began to administer anesthesia, I prayed and cried for my little angel!  I didn’t want to lose her!”
The Mahala kids
After Grace emerged successfully from the surgery, she became the heart of the Mahala family.  If God offered to cure Grace, Tom said he would say, No thanks!  “She is perfect just the way she is,” he said. “Through Grace, our hearts have grown.  Her brothers constantly hug and kiss her and tell her they love her. The boys were gifted athletically, while Grace, who cannot even run or jump is gifted in love.”

Leticia Velasquez Co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) author of "A Special Mother is Born" became depressed thirteen years ago when her little Christina Maria arrived.  The delivery room fell deathly silent. “We regret to tell you that this child has symptoms consistent with Down Syndrome.” Leticia was told.
Leticia and Christina
She already had a premonition that would be the case and was ready with a response, “She’s my best chance at getting a daughter to Heaven, and I consider her a special blessing from God.”  But watching the other newborns in the nursery and comparing Christina’s weakness to their vitality, soon brought about self-pity.  Almost immediately, Leticia’s family and friends encircled her in love and prayers.  Another mother of a Down baby offered support and a friend sent an Elizabeth Ministry package for special babies, with the CD and book set: Sometimes Miracles Hide, Stirring Letters from Those Who Discovered God’s Blessings in a Special Child by Bruce Carroll. “That was a constant companion, reminding me that regardless of how inadequate I felt, God had indeed chosen me to mother Christina, and that she would be my means of attaining holiness down the road.”

My friend Evi came to my house one afternoon to show me an adorable little newborn boy with Down Syndrome. His mother, a friend of Evi’s, could not imagine taking care of such a child.  Evi was going to adopt him.
The mother visited Evi a couple of times in the next two weeks.  She mostly ignored her baby on the first visit.  On the second visit, the mother watched him and Evi insisted she at least hold him. By the third visit, the mother told Evi that she wanted her son back. A few weeks later, the mother could not understand how she had ever wanted to give him up.

It is good that Ruzan and Samuel’s story went public.  On some level, the media is honoring the value of baby Leo.  But I fear for the couple. How will Ruzan’s heart mend from so far away?  Let’s pray that Leo’s parents will come back together to enjoy the blessing of his love that God can use to heal this rift.
For more inspiration, check out Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families  uplifting stories on love and life. Children's books,  Dear God, I Don't Get It and Dear God, You Can't Be Serious are fiction that present faith through fun and adventuresome  stories.  Follow Patti at Twitter and like her Facebook pages at Dear God Books,  Big Hearted Families.

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