Editor’s note. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time, according to The Jerome Lejeune Foundation, when “we applaud caregivers, families, and medical professionals — but most of all, we applaud all the wonderful people with Down syndrome.” We are continuing to post new and old stories celebrating families with children with Down syndrome.
When Courtney Baker posted a letter to her former doctor on the Parker Myles Facebook page, I don’t suspect she anticipated thousands and thousands and thousands of responses.
Her letter, written more in sadness than anger, was to the physician who delivered the news that Emersyn, Baker’s unborn daughter, had Down syndrome–and counseled her to abort.
Good Morning America’s Genevieve Shaw Brown says that Baker told her she knew “how important it was going to be to write that letter, before Emmy was even born.” But it took more than a year to compose and mail the letter she’d be thinking about as soon as the doctor told Baker her now 15-month-old daughter would have special needs.
What made hearing the doctor’s advice even worse is that Baker had a friend who was pregnant at the same time and who received the same diagnosis. But the contrast in the physicians’ responses was as stark as it was difficult to hear.
“A doctor told Baker’s friend that her baby was perfect, while Baker’ doctor had a different message for her: He immediately recommended she abort the baby,” reported Kate Irby of the News Observer.
When the woman from Sanford, Florida refused, she said the doctor continued to try to convince her.
“You asked us again if we understood how low our quality of life would be with a child with Down syndrome,” Baker said. “You suggested we reconsider our decision to continue the pregnancy.”
Baker flatly rejected the advice. So why write a letter now? Because she hopes her letter will alter–reconsider– his recommendations the next time he has a patient whose unborn child has Down syndrome.
“Every action from opening and closing the mailbox, to raising the red flag, was closure for me,” Baker told ABC News. “I have no idea how the doctor might have reacted to my letter, but I do have faith that God can work any miracle and He can change any heart.”
What stands out–well, actually the entire letter stands out. For example
From that first visit, we dreaded our appointments. The most difficult time in my life was made nearly unbearable because you never told me the truth. My child was perfect.
Was she angry? Bitter? Baker says no.
I’m really just sad. I’m sad the tiny beating hearts you see every day don’t fill you with a perpetual awe. I’m sad the intricate details and the miracle of those sweet little fingers and toes, lungs and eyes and ears don’t always give you pause. I’m sad you were so very wrong to say a baby with Down syndrome would decrease our quality of life. And I’m heartbroken you might have said that to a mommy even today. But I’m mostly sad you’ll never have the privilege of knowing my daughter, Emersyn.
Her letter concludes
And my prayer is when you see that next baby with Down syndrome lovingly tucked in her mother’s womb, you will look at that mommy and see me then tell her the truth: “Your child is perfect.”