I dreamed of having a large family for as long as I can remember. In college, I met a man who had dreams similar to mine and we were married. Several years passed with school, work, and our first two children joining our family helping our dream become a reality. All was going according to plan.
However, when I was pregnant with my third child, I had a feeling that something was different about this baby. When our son was born he was under stress and was whisked away. I was very concerned for my baby, but nothing prepared me for what came next. The doctor came into my room and he started to cry. My mind immediately began racing, wondering what was wrong. The doctor went into a long explanation, but all I heard was, “I suspect your baby has Down Syndrome. You are young. You should put him in a home and forget about him.” What? What was he saying?!? No!!! I was only 25. How could my son have Down Syndrome? I thought children with Down syndrome were born to older women, this couldn’t be happening to me! This was the last thing I wanted to hear. This wasn’t part of my dream!
Then a small 5 lb. baby was put in my arms. As I held my son for the first time, my mother’s heart took over. I looked at him and saw a baby–a little tiny boy who was mine. My son, my baby. I didn’t see Down Syndrome, I saw a child who needed his mother. I saw a little tiny baby fighting to survive, a baby who needed to be loved and cared for by his parents. Then the words of the doctor rang in my ears, “You are young. You should put him in a home and forget about him.” How could a doctor tell me to forget about my son? This was my child and I didn’t care what was wrong or right with him, he was mine and I was not going to forget about him. I was not! I became more and more angry that the doctor felt this way about my child, a human being that he didn’t know or even care to get to know. How could anyone be so cold towards another person? So unfeeling?
Race forward many years…I was then the mother of 8 children–5 by birth and 3 who joined our family through the miracle of adoption. Early one morning I read about a little 3-year old girl who was born in Ghana, Africa who had Down Syndrome. When I read that her birth-father saw her as a curse and wanted her killed, my mother's heart once again took over and I remembered the feeling I had had at the birth of my third child. The pain and anger filled my heart once again of how anyone could feel this way towards any human being. I knew we needed to help this little girl! I knew we needed to make her our daughter. I knew in my mother’s heart that I needed to fight for her the same way that I had to fight for the worth of my son that was born of my womb.
This fight, however, would be different and would force me to face things I never wanted to face or even know about. It took 3 trips to Ghana before we were finally able to bring our daughter home. I have never had to do anything as difficult as having to leave our daughter behind–twice–not knowing if she would still be alive when we returned. I was asked by the head of social welfare in Ghana why anyone would adopt a “child like this.” We were taken to the police station by Ghanaian police and accused of human trafficking and once again asked the question why anyone would adopt a “child like this.” “A child like this,” what is meant by that phrase? This “child like this” is a human being, a child, and a little girl long before she is “Down Syndrome.” What is it in our human nature that makes us see and point out something that is different about a human being before seeing the very humanness of our being? As my mother’s heart learned so many years ago, EVERY human being is of equal value and of worth.
Now I am ready to fight for children all over the world who are seen as being evil or as a curse, for every child who is different or vulnerable. Our daughter was taken to a fetish priestess to be “taken care of”–in other words, to be killed, so that her birth-father would no longer be “cursed.” Thankfully her life was spared, but there are many children who are not so lucky. This must be stopped! These children are called “Spirit Children,” children not only with Down Syndrome or other special needs, but children who are too tall, too inquisitive, too…you name it. Children who need to be rescued, need to be loved and protected. Children who need us to bring out the fighting advocate in all of us in order to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Won’t you join with me to save the lives of children who just need someone to protect them long enough so they can have the chance to show the world the amazing human beings that they are!