October is one of our favorite months of the year here at Human Coalition. It’s not because of the cooler weather and the pumpkin spice lattes (while those are certainly perks!). Rather, it’s because October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
During this month, it’s a privilege to celebrate those with Down syndrome and recognize the incredible joy they bring to the world. They’re valuable to us — and to the Lord.
To commemorate Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I’d love for you to meet a friend of ours with Down syndrome…
Waylon is a precious seven-month-old little boy living in Texas with his parents and two older siblings.
Waylon’s mom, Jennifer, was 17-weeks pregnant when she learned he likely had Down syndrome. While many families in this situation immediately panic and turn to abortion, one of the first things Jennifer and her husband did was find out their child’s gender — they wanted to better connect with him by praying for him by name.
Unfortunately, most children in the womb with Down syndrome don’t have the same story of life as Waylon.
Parents are often pressured to abort after a Down syndrome diagnosis. And because of increased prenatal testing, these kinds of abortions are skyrocketing. An estimated 67% of children with Down syndrome are aborted in America. In France, it’s around 77%. In Denmark, it’s approximately 98%. In Iceland, it’s almost 100%.
The grotesque reality behind these statistics is masked by claims that Down syndrome has been nearly eradicated in these countries and that it’s disappearing. But these children did not vanish into thin air — they were deemed less valuable and killed in the womb.
But you and I know the truth: every life is valuable.
Like you and me, Waylon was made in God’s image and is loved by his Creator. To view Waylon as anything less than this is to miss seeing his God-given purpose and worth — something Jennifer commonly encountered from others while pregnant.
Jennifer recalls her doctor “telling us grim statistic after grim statistic, like she was waiting for us to fall on the floor.” She felt like her doctor was only focused on abstract probabilities instead of on Waylon, not even taking the time to read the health chart before seeing her.
They did not want to know about others. They wanted to know about him.
But the doctor treated Waylon as a statistic instead of as a person in need of care. At her appointment every other week, she always asked Jennifer, “Do you still plan on keeping and maintaining the pregnancy?”
During an appointment with a specialist, Jennifer was explicit with her rejection of abortion. She told the doctor, “I want to clear the air that we know there is a high chance he has Down syndrome — and we are OK with that.”
A Beautiful Life
Despite the coldness she felt from some of her doctors, Jennifer and her family had an army of friends supporting them at home. They walked with them during the pregnancy and celebrated with them when Waylon was born three weeks early weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.
Waylon was thriving at birth — and he is thriving today!
Jennifer said people are “enamored” by Waylon wherever they go and that he “brings people’s guards down and draws them in. I knew I accepted Waylon and loved him but had no idea the joy he would bring and the community that he would create around our family.”
So many families right now are missing this joy in their lives.
Jennifer shared, “People make the decision of abortion based on not feeling able to take care of a special needs child. We were told all the awful things about raising a child with Down syndrome. But I look at him, and I think how sad it would be to have not made the decision for life.”
Every child — with and without special needs — has his or her unique challenges.
But parents of children with Down syndrome are often told their child’s challenges are too much … navigating their care is too hard … it’s all too great of a burden on the whole family. And the answer for these challenges is so often abortion.
Jennifer rejects this line of reasoning and sees it from a different angle.
As a mom of three, she knows each child has challenges, but she feels blessed to have had a picture of Waylon’s challenges prior to his birth. She said, “I knew more about him before he was born than I did with my other two kids.” With her older children, she “didn’t get to prepare for their challenges until they were at my feet!”
What’s more, Jennifer values all that Waylon adds to their family. He makes their home more joyful and is shaping how her other two children see the world and care for others.
When asked what she would say to a mom who just found out her preborn child may have a disability, Jennifer teared up: “You just don’t know… you just don’t know what it’s like until you have them. You don’t know how much love and joy they bring to so many.”