Thursday, November 30, 2006

Being Eddie's father

The Times chief sports writer Simon Barnes writes a knock-out article about fatherhood.

He explains that life with a son who has Down Syndrome isn't as bad as he imagined it would be. He also notes that the hospital "very kindly offered to kill him for us," which notion was not acceptable to his formidable wife. Not. In. The. Least. (Yay, Cindy!)

The downside, such as it is, is that Mr. Barnes writes that if he'd had a wife who wanted an abortion, he's sure he would have gone along with it. To put it another way, he's definitely in the pro-choice camp, but luckily he's in the ranks of those who can get their head around the idea of 'choosing life' even when things look daunting. He also makes a point of saying Thank God he married the woman he did, for he's glad to be Eddie's father.

I would ask the more fervent of my fellow pro-lifers to cut the man some slack. For myself, I suspect that folks like Mr. Barnes, who see abortion as a valid option but celebrate "choosing life" even under difficult circumstances - I suspect their example is going to lend courage to frightened parents when they need it most, thus sparing the world of needless grief and bloodshed. I'd rather the whole world was populated by people like Mr. Barne's wife, but I don't see that happening. Mr. Barnes has my hearty thanks for this article. I think it delivers a well-said message about a hard-won understanding of what love really is and what it means on a day-to-day basis instead of in broad and sometimes-clueless imaginings.

A nice touch: "Eddie" is Edmund, named for a character in the Narnia books, thanks to his older brother Joe who had become keen on the name after having the stories read to him.

A name changes everything, and even when he was in the womb we were not wondering about how we would cope with A Child With Down's syndrome. We were wondering about living with Eddie.

Perhaps that's something to keep in mind. (Maybe it's something akin to hostage situations, where police negotiators usually try their darndest to get the kidnapper to see his hostage as an individual human being, in part by emphasizing the hostage's name?)

hat tip: Wesley J. Smith, who was following up a post by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, which was prompted by this post by Amy Welborn. Amy, as usual, has drawn some uplifting comments.

Related previous post: Children with extra challenges, and the parents who love them

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