My grandparents raised my sister and me after the death of both our parents. I'm very thankful they were willing to take on two little girls in their retirement years and raise us. I know they did the best they could, but Grandpa and I never really saw eye-to-eye. He hated the Mormon Church and always encouraged me to leave it. He only had one rule for me growing up: never come home with a baby. He told me I could experiment with whomever and whatever I wanted as long as I never brought home a baby. I could get pregnant I just couldn't bring the baby home.
While many teens might have loved only having one rule, I didn't. And I chose to live my life very differently. I found the LDS Church and hung onto it for dear life while traversing the tumultuous tides of adolescence. Today, I am ever so grateful that I made those choices early on.
Grandpa was in favor of abortion. He used to start arguments with me about it and maybe that's why I feel so strongly about it now. I remember talking about a friend of mine, who was married and quite young at the time, whose pregnancy had been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Grandpa asked how far along she was and when I said she was halfway through the pregnancy he said, "Oh, it's too late to get rid of it." I still remember that pit-of-the-stomach feeling that he could so easily dismiss the life of a child just because it would have an extra chromosome.
Grandpa has since passed away, but that memory popped into my mind when my own son was diagnosed with DS. How would Grandpa have felt when my son was born? Would he have encouraged me to give him up for adoption? Would he have never accepted my son? Would he have ignored him, or worse been mean to him? I don't dwell on these questions, or the answers, because they are painful. But the truth is, Grandpa was, and is, not alone in the opinion that abortion is a viable option for an unwanted pregnancy, especially one diagnosed with problems.
90% of all women whose pregnancies are diagnosed with DS choose to terminate the pregnancy and end the child's life. That thought sickens me. I cannot imagine my life without my son. I cannot imagine throwing away his life simply because it takes him a little longer to do things.
He has a speech delay. So what? He isn't potty-trained. So what? He laughs, he sings, he plays, he gives hugs and kisses. And when all is said and done he will be the one who's rooting for me to make better choices so that I can be with him forever.
I choose to look at my life with Grandpa as a blessing. It was in his home that I first formed my own testimony and where I learned what I truly wanted to do with my life. I am thankful that though we disagreed on almost everything on a daily basis, it helped me to make life-altering decisions. Grandpa may never have accepted my son, but I know, without any doubt, that my son was meant to come to my family and that he has a great mission ahead of him. Whatever that mission is, it would never happen if I'd listened to Grandpa and aborted him.