By Nancy Flanders
A 25-year-old woman and her husband received criticism for refusing to abort their son because he does not have arms. She said she loves her son just as he is — “perfect.”
According to The Mirror, Mariaan Strauss and her husband Hendrick, from South Africa, explained that they learned during an ultrasound at 13 weeks that their son did not have arms. The doctor advised the parents to abort him. And while the thought of raising a child with different abilities seemed daunting to the couple, they did not want to end his life.
Called “selfish” for that decision, the couple now says that 11-month-old Hendré is the “greatest gift we could have received.” He weighted just over six pounds at birth and Mariaan said that she and her husband cried “because it was such a beautiful moment.”
Still, she said, “the big, dark depression hit me.”
“Society is cruel and I thought, ‘Will our child ever be accepted? Is he going to be mocked and bullied?”
She added, “The words of my specialist kept running through my head, ‘You’re selfish if you don’t abort. You must think of the child. He will never be able to have a normal quality of life.’”
Mariaan became angry with God for allowing her son to be born without arms and began to blame herself. The fear of the unknown was overwhelming. “You pray and you ask for a healthy child, but then this happens,” she said. “But if I had to choose today, I would take him just like that, again, without arms.”
Now she calls their refusal of abortion the best decision of their lives.
“When Hendré was three months old, he taught himself to roll from place to place and it was like a cloud lifted,” she said. “I realised my child was okay, then I was okay and the depression went away.”
Still, those words from the doctor remain with her and she thinks of other mothers who do choose abortion after such a diagnosis. “I wish they could hear me when I tell them it’s okay to have a child who’s different from society’s idea of ‘normal,’” she said. “Hendré is the greatest gift we could have received.”
Hendré, who will turn one in June, also faces other medical challenges. He is missing a lower leg bone and his stomach hasn’t grown properly, but his parents are receiving plenty of support in helping him to overcome his health concerns and they hope he can be fitted for prosthetic arms one day.
Hendrick said Hendré is now moving everywhere. “If he wants to get a toy on the other side of the room, he moves or he pulls his little legs under him and pushes himself forward,” said Hendrick. He added, “Hendré sleeps in his cot next to our bed. When he wakes up, he lies there and smiles at us. And to think I wanted to throw it away because I was scared and insecure.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.