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The 'Options' Parents Need When Their Baby Is Diagnosed With Down Syndrome

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Four years ago, I received news that changed the trajectory of my life forever: “Your son has Down syndrome.”

I was panicked and scared and expressed that to my doctor.

“You have the option to terminate the pregnancy,” she said.

I wish that wasn’t the first option recommended.

I wish that option wasn’t proposed at all.

There were so many other options to suggest.

What if I was encouraged to consider these options instead?

The option to embrace.

The option to be brave.

The option to love.

The option to advocate.

The option to accept differences.

The option to teach and motivate.

The option to be inspired and to inspire others.

The option to be resourceful.

The option to be supported by family and friends, by organizations and schools.

The option to join a new community and reap countless benefits.

The option to laugh and smile more than ever before.

The option to expand horizons.

The option to be patient and persevere.

The option to change perceptions.

The option to experience joy in a whole new way.

The option to receive more love than ever imaginable.

The option to push limits and dream big.

I would have still been scared and panicked, but I would have been encouraged and hopeful. I would have left the office that day with a sense of optimism and determination instead of sadness and fear.

What if our medical community chose to present these options when delivering a Down syndrome diagnosis? What if they chose to encourage and inspire rather than default to the option of termination?

Termination should not be an option just because a baby has Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome deserve to be celebrated, to be valued, to be accepted and to be loved. They are amazing people, full of love, and capable of so much if given the chance. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at my son and feel so grateful I chose the option to love, accept and believe in him today and every day.

It’s a decision I will never regret.

Originally published: July 17, 2019
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