“We see beauty in bodies and minds which are less than perfect”

By Dave Andrusko

I had promised myself a couple of months back that I would read “A Special Mother is Born,” but now I have firmly moved to the next level: I actually ordered the book edited by Leticia Velasquez. Why the next step?

I just read a review by Mary Gorry of the Long Island Catholic that combined commentary on the message of the book and an interview with the book’s editor, who is co-founder of  KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome).

Previously, in reading other reviews, it was clear that this anthology of stories written by the parents of special needs children was special. Here are  two paragraphs from Gerard M. Nadal, who both contributed a chapter and reviewed the book.

“This book addresses one of the burning issues of our day. With prenatal diagnostics leading to the abortions of the less-than-perfect among us, with parents who are frightened into paralysis by these diagnoses and a medical establishment increasingly surrendering to the cowardice of eugenics, over thirty mothers and three fathers of special needs children have stepped forward to share their journeys.

“If one is looking for a feel-good easy read, this book isn’t it. This book tells the story of fear, bewilderment, broken hopes and dreams, and the triumph of love in all of its raw and untamed beauty. It is a window into the human soul, into souls that have been forever transformed by children whose needs call forth what love demands most:

“Sacrifice.”

Leticia Velasquez, the book’s editor, is the mother of three daughters, including nine-year-old Christina, who has Down syndrome. I meet them each year when they come to the National Right to Life office before attending the March for Life. Leticia has penned a couple of essays for me, for which I am very thankful.

From the Long Island Catholic, we learn that when Christina was born, Velasquez “learned that though it does take extra effort and patience to raise a child with special needs, the rewards far surpassed the sacrifices.”           She explained to Corry that as she raised her child, Velasquez “moved closer to God as I called on Him for strength. He helped me learn what really matters in life, and to see others for their unique gifts and God-given dignity, not what they wore, or what they looked like. I was thrilled to see that through having Christina in our family, the spiritual growth also happened in the lives of my husband and older daughters.”

Velasquez explained that “A Special Mother is Born,” –her own story of Christina’s birth–was first published in Faith & Family magazine in spring of 2007. “I received so many letters in response from women who had the same epiphany of being surprised by this powerful joy, this encounter with Jesus in the person of their special needs child, that I knew I was on to something,” she told Corry. “I began collecting stories from mothers three years ago, and was delighted to meet many courageous faith-filled women.”

There are three stories from fathers, inspired, Velasquez said, by reading former Senator Rick Santorum’s story in The Philadelphia Inquirer about his daughter with special needs.

The interview/review is very much worth reading—so let me finish with Velasquez’s beautiful summary observation to Gorry.

“We see beauty in bodies and minds which are less than perfect because we see through them to the purity of our children’s souls,” she said. “They show us glimpses of heaven, where we all will be whole, and bring a bit of heaven to earth in their whole-hearted love. They are our means to sanctity, and we are grateful to God for them, Each reader will receive such a means to holiness in their lives, a challenge which will help them in a similar way. It may be an aging relative, a difficult marriage, or the loss of a job, but if they embrace their cross they will find similar peace.”

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