Abby’s pretty much a rock star when we go out. People go out of their way to tell me how cute she is, to talk to her, to be close to her. I love this. Most people see her and think she’s beautiful- and not in spite of her Down syndrome. Abby is beautiful.
There have been a few times where people haven’t been so kind. I’ve written about it before. Most of the time, people don’t mean harm. They come from a generation that thought differently about people with Down syndrome, or they have their own preconceived notions about the ‘burden’ my daughter is on society and me. Sometimes they pity me.
When you get into the clinical description of Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) you hear words like, “mutation” and “abnormal.” These words aren’t meant to hurt, they are meant to describe. There are other words that usually aren’t meant to hurt, but are still too often used in society at large. I’ve heard a few people use the word “mongoloid” to describe my daughter, a few have used the word “retarded” (in the clinical setting, speaking of specific issues of growth and development, this doesn’t irk me the way it does when I hear people use it to describe HER or in using it in ANY OTHER WAY).
Words have meaning. Using a word like “mongoloid” or “retarded” says more to me about the person saying the words than about my daughter, but they still sting.
When I look at Abby, this quote from Psalm 139 comes to mind: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Abby has an extra chromosome. The expression of that extra chromosome can make a lot of things challenging in her life. But no life is without challenges. Abby is wonderfully made. For what she lacks in words, she makes up for in expression. She may be delayed in several areas, but her ability to love is not hampered.
Abby was made this way. She is not a mistake. She is not a mongoloid. She is my daughter. And I’m grateful for every bit of her- extra chromosome included.