When the first spark of incentive was kindled in my mind, I never thought I would get so far in so short a time.
Baruch Hashem, the response to the summer issue of "Down Syndrome Among Us" was overwhelming. My tight magazine budget could not afford more than two small ads in two Jewish newspapers. However, I received calls from all over the country and beyond.
I want to thank all those wonderful people who sent me congratulatory cards and letters, and of course, all the wonderful people who submitted contributions.
I will quote Steven Krauss of the Jewish Children's Adoption Network in Denver, Colorado. When I spoke to him on the telephone and asked him how he liked the magazine, he said, "Well, it was good and bad". I immediately felt the blood rushing to my face. Novice that I was at this project, I was sure that now I'd get the truth told directly to me! Steve answered, "The publication is very good; it's just very bad and sad that there is such a need for it."
In response to the many people who asked, "What is your purpose in publishing this? What is your goal? What do you want?", my answer is simple. I want to educate the public to know and understand that individuals with Down Syndrome are not doomed. On the contrary, they are the most terrific people who have much to contribute to society, and society has much to learn from then.
At the same time, I also implore my reading audience to please share your insights and opinions with me and the rest of the readers. I was very moved by an acquaintance who told me that she was totally overcome by my mother's article (See Grandparents' Page, p. 10-Summer '95 issue). Considering my mother's age and the generation she grew up in, this woman couldn't believe my mom's outright, outspoken manner of accepting Moishey's birth and her willingness to write publicly about it.
How I wish this woman would have shared her feelings with the public at large, in writing!
Then there is the woman who stopped my sister on the street and complimented the magazine, but at the same time bitterly condemned it for not having "left any space" for those parents who did feel compelled to give up their handicapped child/children. She told of her won harrowing personal experience. I'd love to share her story with our readers, but I need it in writing, please.
I commend her for her courage, and I would like to explain that the article in the magazine are not meant to bash parents who've given away their handicapped children. My goal is to encourage parents to raise and love their children themselves.
I also plead with new parents of Down's babies. Please do not make life-changing decisions right after your baby's birth. We all know how many months of head-scratching one goes through when trying to buy or sell a business or a home; how many sleepless nights and hundreds of phone calls parents go through before deciding on certain "shidduchim"; how many rebbes are consulted to advise us with major decisions in life. Please use the same discretion when deciding you child's future. We all know that the hospital stay after a birth is very brief. When a couple is told the shocking news that their new baby has Downs Syndrome, it is not the right time, nor are you emotionally fit, to become all businesslike and "tachlisdig" and decide right then and there what your family's future will be like with, or without, this child.
Just allow your emotions to overtake you. Cry and grieve for the loss of your dreams of the child that will never be.
Go home. Cry some more. It is okay.
Take care of your infant the way you take care of a "normal" newborn. The baby is a baby, not a monster. It needs you the way a "normal" newborn needs you.
Talk…..and talk…..and talk.
Talk to your spouse. Talk to your family and friends; they will prove to be a tremendous source of encouragement. Talk to families who have children with Down's Syndrome. Meet those children. Fall in love with them….
Give yourself at least three months. Fall in love with your own baby…… See that it's not as frightening as "they made it out to be, and then think whether you still have to make such earth-shattering decisions.
Thank you, all my readers, for your support, and please let me hear from you.
This article first appeared in issue #2 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us