When you have a child with special needs, one question comes up over and over again: "If you could take it away, would you?" Sometimes it is asked directly to us, sometimes we talk about it with other parents like us, sometimes we hear it thrown out for discussion, sometimes we read it between the lines of conversation, sometimes we ask it of ourselves.
I'll be honest... I have always thought it was a ridiculous question. Why wouldn't I? Given the (hypothetical) choice to keep Roo as he is, with all of the struggles and trials that it entails; or to "wave my magic wand" and erase that extra chromosome, and have a 2-year-old who is walking (well) and talking (more) and who won't need a whole team of therapists and consultants and an IEP just to learn the basics... How could I not? It's not a question of loving him more or less, it's a question of wanting the best for him. Wouldn't everyone make that choice?
But it turns out, the answer isn't that simple. After a recent segment on "The Today Show" in which a couple had the new MaterniT21 Plus test (which tests for Down syndrome and two other chromosomal abnormalities), the blogosphere ignited with discussions of how "The Today Show" (which I do not watch, and I didn't even know about this segment until after the fact) handled the story and whether it is truly "good news" as Matt Lauer said that the baby does not have Down's--that it's good that this little one is not like my Roo. And what I read has given me pause: a surprising number of moms who say they would not change their child's special needs, even if they had the chance.
Why? Why wouldn't you make life easier for your child, and yourself?
It's been over two weeks since the segment and the resulting blog posts and articles, and this question has stuck with me. I have been holding onto it, like a boy with a precious rock in his pocket, caressing it secretly when I am talking to others, taking it out to examine it when I am alone, carrying it with me at all times. Would I change it if I could? If not, why not?
And then I remembered an interview I heard a year or so ago with a man named Nick Vujicic. Nick was born without arms or legs, and he has devoted his life to serving the Lord. During the interview, Nick said that God could have healed him. Nick could have woken up one morning to find his body whole, with ten fingers and ten toes, and been able to run and jump and do all of the things that other kids do. And then he said that he could have gone to Heaven and thanked God for healing him and for giving him the chance to ride bikes and go swimming and all of that, and God would have said, "I'm glad you enjoyed it. You know, though, if you had just trusted Me and My plan, there would have been THOUSANDS more people here in Heaven today." Thousands. That's how many people he has reached because of his disability. But you know what? What if it was just one? What if God said, "If you had trusted Me, THAT PERSON right there would have been in Heaven today"? It would still be worth it.
In Roo's short little life so far, he is already making a difference. He is touching hearts. He is connecting us to people we never would have known. He is growing our faith. And I know that God will use him to change lives. And if God took away his Down syndrome, it would make some things in life easier. But it's not that simple. Because of Roo and his extra chromosome, people might come to know of God's love and goodness. More people might be standing in Heaven one day, because of him, because of how God uses him. I wouldn't take that away for anything.
There are parts of me, selfish parts, that hurt to put this in writing. But honestly, I feel like my eyes have been opened. Not only does God have a plan, but God has a PERFECT plan. His plan is for Roo to have Down syndrome and to use that for His glory. And that is perfect. And it is good. And it is better than any plan I could have come up with.
And I wouldn't change it, even if I could.