Today I'd like to share another beautiful poem that I came across while reading the wonderful book, Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives. The poem was written by Charo Boggian and is dedicated to her son, Zoe, whom she found out had Down Syndrome on the day of his birth. I was very, very moved when I read this poem, particularly by the absolute truth it brings forth about the term "mental retardation." I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
has mental retardation, they say.
But I say
have the ones that use bombs, that throw them
the ones that, anesthetized by money,
leave to die millions of children in Africa,
in India, in all the places of the world
the ones that, blinded by power,
destroy the environment
extinguish the animals
poison the rivers and seas.
have the ones that, through ignorances,
the ones that do not respect, neither accept others
just as they are.
has mental retardation, they say,
yet pure and brave he is;
a better way of living he has.
A form more simple
A high form
full of happiness
closer to love
A form that those others
do not understand.
I have been told that somewhere between 89 an 92 percent of parents who find out before 20 weeks of gestation that their baby has Down Syndrome choose to terminate pregnancy. Down Syndrome occurs in about 1 in every 700 live births (obviously not including those that were terminated). I have always considered myself pro-choice, and I still believe that everyone has the right to decide for themselves, but after Jack was born, my perspective has definitely changed. I cannot help but imagine how many more individuals like Jack would be walking amongst us if so many parents did not terminate pregnancy based on this diagnosis. It just makes me believe more strongly that people with Down Syndrome are supposed to be part of our world, here to teach us to live life "without aggression, without selfishness, without wickedness, without lies."