A great deal of emotion was stirred in me as I read an article at MSN talking about a Thai Surrogate that kept a child with a disability despite being asked to abort it. As a father of a child born with Down Syndrome I can tell you, it can be rough! But I can tell you something else as well. That tough child is a child, a human child, and he has all the same needs for love and acceptance that any “normal” child has. He is quite capable of feeling emotion, and desperately needs the type of affection that speaks to him.
Just tonight, as a matter of fact, he woke up at 3:30 AM, and couldn’t go back to sleep. My child is almost six years old, and he can not speak, and barely can communicate with your “typical” communication methods. But as he curled into me, picking my arm up and laying it around his shoulders, he left no question in my mind that he just needed some hugs from Dad. So, as a father that loves his son dearly, I can’t express the outrage I felt when I read the comments by Pattaramon when she is quoted as having said, “If the child is born with an unusual condition or if anything goes wrong, it will become a burden for you and society.”
Has the human race really reached a point… No… I need not ask. The human race actually has reached a point where it has no regard for human life whatsoever. Because a child has a “disability” they are a burden. What does this say of us?
Is the child a burden? By a strict definition of the word, every single child born is a burden. They all come with needs that have to be met. Every child needs the parent to carry the burden of raising them. I have a 7 week old right now, and I can tell you the burden of staying up all night is heavy.
But that’s not what we mean when we make statements like this is it? Being a burden on you and society… What we mean is, A burden that isn’t worth it. Every child comes with a burden to carry, but we call the “normal” burden a blessing. But when the child is unworthy, or requires much of us, then it’s no longer a blessing, but a burden to us. Something which we don’t want.
Imagine how our “normal” children would feel if we walked around referring to them as a burden. But we wouldn’t think of that would we? We work hard to build up our children, instill in them a sense of value, and self worth. We tell them how great they are in hopes of pushing them to try harder to be all they can be. We build entire ministries in our churches around this purpose. As a result we save the term burden for children who “are not worthy” of being built up.
If you’re a person that does this, ask yourself why. What makes a “normal” life, more valuable than one with a disability? Is it that return on investment? If you invest in a “normal” child with your time and energy, you expect that child to grow up, get a job and become a worker in society. Is that the deciding factor? If that is the separating factor, then are the elderly also a burden? And if they are a burden, should we selectively euthanize some of them based on the level of burden they become? Where do you draw the line of value, or the level of “burden” you’re willing to put up with? Is it really so shallow that it’s about return on investment? The mindset that since some special needs people can not aspire to become what “normal” children have the potential to be, they simply are not worth our effort? They aren’t worth being thought of as blessings, but rather are burdens to us and society? Sick. Is there another word for it other than, sick? I don’t’ think there is. You could say selfish, or insensitive, or any number of things, and I could agree with those too, but sick, I think, has to run right along with them. It’s absolutely sick to think of one child as a blessing and another as a burden. The very fact that people speak this way, and others have no issue with it, is a testament to the fact that most commonly people already view these children as less valuable. That, is sick.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it is hard. I have conversations with my wife several times a week about how hard it can be. I know it can make a person sit up at night and just cry at the lack of understanding. For us, it’s a feeling of total defeat to not know how to unlock our child’s potential. What is he capable of, and how do we help him achieve that? That is what is hard for us. How do we determine what behavior is flat out defiance, and what behavior is because of his conditions? That is another thing that is hard for us. Where can we take him, that he will be safe, and where can’t we? That is hard too! I understand what it’s like to have a child that demands so much that we literally have to have an adult, or at the very least an older, responsible sibling, in the room with our son all the time! I know what it’s like to have my life completely altered because of the birth of a child. I know what it’s like to have to depend on friends, and family for help, not only financially, but also emotionally. I know what it’s like to give up all career plans, and alter living expenses to such a degree that you can barely afford Christmas presents for the family.
But even knowing all of this, first hand, I would never reduce my a child to nothing more than a burden! It’s not a burden, it’s a child! A child that has out of the ordinary needs. A child that is difficult because of extenuating circumstances, but he’s no less worthy of life, love, and happiness than is any of my other children! By the strictest definition all children are a burden, but in terms of what is actually meant when this term is used, he’s worth so much more than to be thought of in that way.
I could sum this post up and end it right here, but then someone would just write to me and tell me how this woman could have aborted the baby, and is some sort of hero because she didn’t. Most people would probably miss the point of my above comments and rather would jump right to protecting this woman. To this I say: I agree. It’s great that she didn’t abort him. 90% of Downs children never make it to birth. It’s great she didn’t butcher him.
I’m left deeply confused about this act of surrogates. I have known people who have carried babies for their friends, or neighbors. I have always been in awe of how selfless that seemed. In my personal experiences I’ve never known if there was a monetary transaction for the effort or not. It never really crossed my mind, I just thought it was an amazing gift. A picture of self sacrifice out of love for another.
As I’ve studied, and considered the actions more, I’m not sure how I feel about the use of this technology anymore. I’m not a fan of birth control. It does crazy damage to women. It emotionally effects them. It causes intense weight gain. They are showing now that it seems to bring a higher risk of various types of cancer and other diseases. I know of women first hand who have had to endure one problem or another, up to and including full hysterectomies, as a result of the use of different birth controls. But what really gets me, and I’ve written about before, is how we (Christians) say we trust God with our life, we trust him with everything, but we don’t trust him to choose the size of our family. In this area, “We have to use our brains.” The more I’ve thought about it, the less I think we should be playing God in this area.
As I’ve thought more and more about this, I’ve found myself coming to a place where I think the opposite is true as well. Do we have a right to play God for a couple who can’t have a baby? In a way Sara did that remember? She gave her slave to Abraham so that the slave might carry a baby in Sara’s name. If you don’t remember how that turned out, you should revisit Genesis. Does the fact that we are not actually having sex with the other person change the fact that God has a plan for those people, and he’s quite capable of carrying it out? Is it healthy to try to circumnavigate his plan?
I don’t care what the “secular” world does, but did God really intend for Christian women to use their bodies as human test tubes for rent? Because that’s what we’re doing. And typically in these cases, they implant many children, and abort the extras. Not in all cases of course, but in many it is true. How much more could we actually be playing God? Whether we are killing a child, or circumnavigating the fact that we haven’t been blessed with the ability to produce one, I can’t see this any other way than a lack of submission to the will of God.
I have no idea what Pattaramon’s religious status is, and frankly I don’t care. She refused to abort the baby, and that is fantastic. But she sold her body for $10,900 before she even got to that point, and then took another roughly $3000 when she was paid to keep the baby. “Pattaramon said she agreed to a fee of 350,00 Thai baht ($10,900) to carry the twins for the couple. She said they agreed to pay her another 150,000 baht to keep Gammy.”
How do we expect the next generation of children to have any value for life at all when they see clearly that it is openly and shamelessly bought and sold on the open market, but is a burden to the parents and society when it’s not born perfect – exactly the way we want, and expect it? A burden which, to most, warrants death. I don’t know about your children, but my child, even my Isaiah, holds much more value as an individual than to have him seen as anything but a blessing.