- Religion and Philosophy
Why does God allow Children to be born with special needs?
What's wrong with people?!
I was taking my semi-every day walk on the treadmill, one morning. During the cooling off period, I was channel surfing on the monitor attached to the treadmill. I happened across some movie or TV show that was in progress and heard something that deeply troubled me.
This lady was looking at someone off screen and said something to the extent of, "20 years ago I made a decision to give birth to a Down Syndrome child, rather than have an abortion. This decision resulted in the destruction of my marriage." I found this to be so offensive that I quickly changed channels, and then turned off the monitor.
This was because 23 years ago, I heard someone say something very similar that was equally offensive.
My daughter, Mica, was born at that time, and after spending her first three weeks in the hospital, we brought her home with the knowledge that she had extensive brain damage, was suffering from Cerebral Palsy, and did not have much of a future. Every time we spoke with a physician or specialist, it always was seemed to be doom and gloom, end-of-the-world, apocalypse type news. However, we persevered, and relied on our faith in God.
My wife and I attended a group therapy class for parents of special needs children. Most of the meetings were uneventful; that is to say I do not remember very much of them. At one particular meeting, however, this one woman attendee spoke up and said that she resented not having access to proper prenatal testing equipment. She said that had she been advised that her unborn child had down syndrome, she would have aborted it.
If her comments had stopped there, I could have ignored her statments as coming from someone suffering from the stress of raising a special needs child. However, she went on to say that she believe every one of us in that room would do the same. This set my wife off, who quickly set the record straight that not all of us in that room have the same opinion of our children.
In that movie spot I was watching, there was the underlying message that her Down Syndrome child was the reason her marriage ended. While I understand that this is fiction, the implied message is incredibly wrong, and wrongheaded. To blame that child on something as big as the destruction of a marriage is irresponsible; even to imply it, as was done in this fictional story plot, is terribly wrong.
Are we to believe that if this character had aborted this child, the marriage would have survived? What about marriages that have children without special needs and still end in divorce? Are we prepared to blame those failed attempts on the children as well? I would hope not.
For some reason, people feel the need to find some external source to blame for the internal problems and failures they are experiencing. It takes the blame off their own inner turmoils, and allows them to continue feeling good about themselves. Sometimes, however, we do not need to feel good about ourselves.
Should an alcoholic feel good about herself as she wastes her family’s money on alcohol? Should a pedophile feel good about himself as he engages in the rape of a child? Should a bank robber feel good about himself as he robs the local bank? Should a murder have good self-esteem as they plot the slaughter of another person?
In the same way, we need to be willing to look at ourselves with honesty and see that most of the problems and failures in our lives are self-inflicted. We should stop blaming the innocent for these failings, and start the process of repentance and healing.
Indeed, one of the lessons I have been learning over and over again for the past 23 years that my daughter has been with my family, is the power that comes from serving someone else.
Why we need them more than they need us.
The reality is that special needs people are not as productive in society. In many cases, they are not productive at all. From a purely economic stand point, they take more than they give. That is why people like Adolph Hitler advocated killing them off.
In reality, there are benefits reaped in a society that protects its weak and disabled. Not everything in life can be measured in numbers and profits. Societies can be improved on a more esoteric level beyond the mundane.
Over the past 23 years, I have learned from my daughter how to laugh when you do not fell like laughing. I have discovered the power of a hug when coming home from work exhausted. I have seen how thankfulness can be expressed just by eating the food placed before you with gusto. Above it all, I have learned the power of giving to someone who cannot repay: it is called servitude.
When you see someone in a wheelchair stuck at a door they cannot open, you know that by holding the door open for them, they will never be able to do the same for you. However, you do it anyway, regardless of their attitude, because they need the assistance. Sure, you could be so self-absorbed that you fail to notice, or choose to ignore, that person's plight. Even then, though, something in your heart nudges you to help.
This is because people who fail to learn how to serve, never develop compassion. Without compassion, a society is doomed to self-destruction. Can anyone say Nazi Germany or ancient Rome?
There is also a difference between servicing and serving. One is motivated by external forces, while the latter is influenced by a heart of compassion. If I commit an act of service with the desire for personal benefit, either from public recognition or reimbursement, then I am only servicing that individual. I will only do the barest of necessities. My heart is not in it.
On the other hand, if I am responding to that person's need because of compassion, then I will serve them until their needs have been completely met. The little things that a servicing individual may overlook, I will take care of because my heart is involved.
Does this mean that the daily grind of taking care of a special needs child gets easier if your heart is in it? Definitely not! In fact, without outside help from others, I do not know what my wife and I would have done.
No, it is a trial and it is a joy. There are ups and there are downs. We have experienced tears and smiles. Yet, even with the bad times, I have never regretted have my daughter, Mica.
A society as successful, as rich and prosperous, as affluent and indulgent as ours needs to be reminded of the need for compassion and servitude. We need to have something to take us out of our own self-centered lives and focus our attention on someone else. I believe that one of the reasons God gives us children like Mica is to remind us of what really is important, and what is not.
© 2011 WRWeeks