Published on June 12th, 2018 | by Linnea Barto
Celebrating God’s Gift of Down Syndrome
Kathy Ellefson lay on the hospital bed, giving birth to her fourth child, Aaron. But she had a horrible, inexpressible feeling something was wrong.
When the nurse carried the baby boy over, she said he might have Down syndrome. Mrs. Ellefson was relieved! She had thought her baby was going to die. Instead he had Down syndrome, a genetic disorder where one has an extra chromosome, causing mental challenges and slower development.
Aaron is now 4 years old and loves music and playing with his siblings. He doesn’t talk yet, but he signs with his older siblings, Maddie, Megan and Noah. His family loves him.
Does having an extra chromosome make people with Down syndrome any less than those without it? Some think so. In the U.S., it is estimated that 67% of babies tested to have Down syndrome are aborted.
Denmark and Iceland both claim to have abolished Down syndrome in their countries, but the way that they have accomplished it is very corrupt. In Denmark, tests have been offered to all pregnant women since 2004 telling the mother if her unborn child has Down syndrome. The result: 98% of all babies who tested positive for the genetic disorder are aborted.
In Iceland, no children with Downs were born from the year 2008 to 2012. And likely none since then. How tragic! These children were killed only because they were labeled disabled.
Frank Stephens, a man with Down syndrome, spoke before the U.S. Congress recently and said, “I completely understand that the people pushing this particular ‘final solution’ are saying that people like me should not exist… I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence.”
And why should he? God made all mankind in His image, including those with Downs. King David wrote in Psalm 139, “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb… I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Megan Ellefson, Aaron’s older sister, can’t imagine life without her sweet little brother. “He smiles and laughs a lot, and… it’s fun to be around him,” she says.
Many who love people with Down syndrome tell how they’ve been blessed by them. They almost always bring up how joyful and content those with this genetic disorder are and how they spread this joy.
“We are thankful that God can use Aaron’s precious life to spread the news that kids [and] people with Down syndrome fill our world with extra joy and blessings,” Kathy Ellefson says. She encourages people to ask questions about Aaron so they can appreciate him for who he is and not keep their distance because they don’t understand him.
“I didn’t really know a lot about Down syndrome before [Aaron] was born, so I didn’t really care about it,” Megan says. “[But those with Downs] are even more special than most babies. They’re different, but it’s in a good, special way. It’s a positive thing, not a negative thing that you need to get rid of.”
Why are we trying to rid ourselves of a blessing? Finding a cure for Down Syndrome would help many people. But killing is not the cure.
Stephens asked, “Is there really no place for us in this world?”
Our answer: “Yes, of course there is a place for you in this world!”
Stephens also urges us to help make a difference, saying, “Let’s pursue answers, not ‘final solutions.’”
When we welcome people with Down syndrome and their families into our churches and hearts, we will be blessed by their joy, and in return we will give them love, care and a place to belong.
Jesus Christ loved the outcasts and sinners; we should love the ones that the world rejects. Those with Downs and their families should not be left alone because they are different.
So how can we best love these families? We can surround them with kindness and listen to parents who might be afraid or disappointed. We can raise awareness about disability and remind the world that all people are valuable. We can pray, and celebrate when a new child with Downs is born.
It means a lot to people with Down syndrome and their families when you take the time to care about them. So let’s love them.