What kind of mother threatens her husband to abandon their newborn? In 2015, Ruzan Badalyan threatened divorce if the father, Samuel Forrest, refused to abandon their Down Syndrome newborn. Samuel shared his story publicly.
Samuel, a freelance business contractor had said: "I looked at this guy and I said, he's beautiful - he's perfect and I'm absolutely keeping him." But his wife gave him an ultimatum, that she would leave him if he kept their son.
Monster! Many pro-lifers cried. If only she had had an abortion, some felt. At the time, I thought, She just needs time to fall in love. And she did. The media later reported that the couple reunited.
I have interviewed several loving parents of Down Syndrome babies, some who originally wanted their baby to die until they all fell madly in love. Too many don’t give themselves the chance. Down Syndrome babies are aborted in 9 out of 10 pregnancies due to a rampant cultural prejudice.
Prayed for God to Take Her Baby
Liz Gary first shared her story “Watch What You Pray For” in the Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart book. She had always feared people with Down’s Syndrome, so she was devastated when an ultrasound showed her unborn son that the condition. “I prayed, ‘God please take this little angel; this is more than I can handle,” she said.
When it was discovered that her son had an additional fatal condition, everything seemed divinely settled. Three weeks later, however, his 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.”
Liz and her husband Gary prayed for a miracle—to let their baby live. Dustin was miraculously healed of his other fatal condition, and Liz and Gary 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 Gary shared for Dustin, overflowed and renewed their marriage.
When Dustin was thirteen, I did a follow-up article and Liz shared: "Dustin has given so much love, compassion, hope, perseverance, patience, determination to so many. His sister Abby-Lynn and brother Cameron have been remarkable. What an honor it has been to walk this walk!" Because of Dustin, she has been very involved in legislation at the state level in her home state of Louisiana for people with disabilities.
Parents Wished Their Daughter Would Die
In the story “Fearing my Daughter” included in the book Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families, Tom Mahala admitted that he and his wife initially hoped their Down Syndrome daughter Grace, would not survive the open-heart surgery she needed when she was a few months older.
“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 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!”
After Grace emerged successfully from the surgery, she became the heart of the Mahala family. Now, if God offered to cure Grace of Down Syndrome, 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, author of A Special Mother is Born, became depressed 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.
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, brought about self-pity. Almost immediately, Leticia’s family and friends encircled her in love and prayers. Another mother of a Down Syndrome 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.
My friend Evi came to my house one afternoon to show me an adorable little Down’s Syndrome, newborn boy. 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 during the first couple of weeks. She mostly ignored her baby on the first visit. On the second visit, the mother watched him and Evi insisted the mother at least hold him. By the third visit, the mother told Evi that she wanted her son back. A few weeks later, I heard that the mother could not understand how she had ever wanted to give him up.
So why do so many people fear Down Syndrome? They haven’t opened their hearts and minds to see that God wants to bless families and our culture with children whose gift is love. As Christie Hockel Davenport, a young lady with Down Syndrome told me for a National Catholic Register article last year, “Being Loved Is What Makes People Happy.”
And doesn’t our world need more love and more happiness? If only more people understood this gift of love from God.
Other books include: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the best-selling Amazing Grace Series.