It’s a Good Life!

After our son was born with Down syndrome nearly 20 years ago, I researched the heck out of his diagnosis. One of the articles I found that gave me hope was a column by George Will. I knew of him and his reputation as a political columnist, but I didn’t know he had a son with Down syndrome.

The particular column I read was written in honor of his son’s 20th birthday. He described his son Jon as a happy and wonderful human being with personal interests as well as a loving family. It made me feel like having Down syndrome wasn’t the end of the world for our child.

Last week, Will’s son Jon turned 40, and Will wrote another column in celebration of the day. In it he draws a picture of a man who loves nothing better than to take the subway to the baseball game and, after popping in to help out in the locker room, sit and enjoy the game with a cold one.

While many other 40-year-olds spend their afternoons stuck in traffic on their way home from work, thinking about how they’re going to make the mortgage payment this month or why their boss is making them miserable, Jon Will watches his beloved baseball team. Doesn’t sound like such a bad life, does it?

Our son has a good life, too. He likes to sing along to his favorite movies, bowl and play mini-golf, make hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, and talk to his favorite people on his phone. And then there are his video games; there’s nothing he likes better than to beat his dad or his brother or his sister’s boyfriend fair and square while playing video games.

So when you hear someone say that babies with Down syndrome are better off aborted because they would have had such a hard life, don’t believe it. Not for a second. Because there are many, many people like Jon Will and my son who live very good lives indeed.

Oh…one more thing: please don’t do as some of Will’s commenters did and defend abortion by saying that there are many babies with Down syndrome whose families can’t handle their diagnosis, because there are waiting lists of people who want to adopt those babies. They too will be loved and be able to enjoy life IF they are given the chance to have that life.

Fertility: The Greatest Crime?

So the Duggars are having their 20th baby, and there is great consternation in the land.

My goodness, with all the sad and scary things happening in the world these days, why on earth are people getting upset about this family? Unlike many much-smaller families these days, they don’t require taxpayer aid. Nor do they farm out their kids to grandparents, as taxpayer-supported parents often do; apparently they not only raise their own kids but they homeschool them. What’s wrong with that?

There’s a poll alongside this article about the Duggars’ baby news that shows 66% of respondents believe that even four kids are too many. To those people I would like to say that three of my four kids work and pay taxes and pay into Social Security, and you should be glad about that. Just think, if the 50 million babies that have been aborted since 1973 would have been allowed to live, they too would be working and paying taxes and supporting you in your old age (and as a bonus, maybe one of them might have even found a cure for cancer or AIDS). Many of our governmental programs, flawed as they may be, were designed for a growing population that supports its elders. Some call that a pyramid scheme, and I agree, but it’s what our society has used for decades, and the loss of so many young people over the past 40 years has damaged the framework of these programs.

I don’t understand why people have such hostility toward large families. Our former neighbors have six kids, and the husband didn’t even tell his coworkers about the last two because he’d already taken so much heat from them for having four kids. How sad is that? Their oldest four kids, by the way, now include a music teacher and an optometrist so I think you could say they contribute to society even beyond financial contributions.

Their mom and I were once at a neighborhood party where I was introduced to the new neighbor across the street, a child psychologist working for the public schools. She and her husband had no children (though they did have a dog they occasionally dressed up and photographed in the front yard, to our amusement). She quickly made it clear that she didn’t especially like children and made a few cracks about “breeders” (large families), so I felt the need to introduce her to my neighbor and then said, “By the way, we both live right across the street from you and between us we have ten children. So you might not want to drink the water around here.” I still chuckle thinking about the look of dismay on her face.