in defense of my son's first mom

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I was not there for the birth of my oldest son. I don't get to know what happened on that day. I have imagined every different scenario possible for how the moments after he was born looked. What emotions his mother felt when the doctor told her that her new baby was born with Down syndrome.

My son was born in a country where society rejects kids like him. I know that his birth mom was a single mom with three other children. And I know that upon hearing the news that he had Down syndrome, she decided that she could not keep him. I know that she left the hospital without him. That he stayed there for a couple of weeks and that he then went straight into the orphanage where he lived for seven years until he finally came home to us. Those are the limited facts that I know.

Almost four years ago, my daughter and I decided we wanted to do something big for World Down Syndrome Day. She was only three. Her big brother had been home with her for just six months. They very quickly became inseparable. She had this innately protective nature when it came to him. I had never seen anything like it. We wanted to share Archie with the world. So we made a video. We had absolutely no idea the attention that it would get. It went viral in a couple of days and suddenly our little duo was changing lives.

The majority of the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. I got emails from people all over the world who had either recently gotten a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, or had just given birth to a child with Down syndrome, expressing their gratitude for our video and explaining the impact it had on them. Several mothers even wrote to tell me that they were planning to abort their baby, but came across our video and changed their mind. I've gotten to witness through pictures these babies being born and growing up.  It's been incredible and powerful and it has kept me sharing, in spite of the trolls, and uninformed loudmouths.

Yesterday, George Takei shared our video on his Facebook page. And with over 9 million followers, the comments came rolling in fast. I have a "never read the comments" rule that I am usually pretty good about abiding by, but I just couldn't help myself this time. I have never felt the need to address the disgusting comments from the trolls. Things like "that retard should be kept in a cage", while they immediately make my blood boil, don't even deserve a response. What I do want to address though, are the people who have interpreted our video as us being negative towards my son's birth mom. Because that is so far from the case. We are incredibly thankful for his birth mom for giving life to our son.

Here's the thing: Our son was rejected at birth. That is a fact. And the truth of the matter is, it wasn't just his mother who said she couldn't keep him. It was the society that he was born into as a whole. And that's where the problem lies. There is no support, no help, no acceptance for mothers in her situation. Do we think that his birth mother was selfish or a terrible person or that she simply didn't want him because he was born different? No. We don't believe those things for one second. On the contrary, I grieve for her. At some point every day, I look at my son and I feel deep sadness for her and all that she has missed out on. I think about his siblings and how much they would love him. I wonder if they think about him on his birthday or holidays. I try to imagine what they look like.

Was our son abandoned? Yes.
Was he rejected? Yes. He absolutely was.

But it wasn't because his mother had no heart. It wasn't because she just felt he was going to be an inconvenience to her and she didn't want the trouble. It was because everything she knew told her that she couldn't keep him. That he would be better off in an institution. That he didn't have a place in her society. It is devastating that there are still so many parts of our world where this type of mindset prevails, and mothers are left hopeless and broken. I believe that my son's birth mother felt as if she had no choice. And that is a terrible, terrible injustice.

Lots of Love,

Lisa