The other day as I was commenting (educating/defending/advocating) on another blog, something caught my eye. Something I have wanted to comment on for a LONG time. But I wanted to let my ideas percolate a bit... but now I think I am ready to serve you the “coffee”.
Just to give you an idea about what I am going to be talking about, these are comments written on an article about a wonderful couple who have several children with Down syndrome:
•About this guy with special needs children:
Are these his biological children?
If yes, that means he and his wife knew that something was wrong with their genetic codes after the first kid. Yet, they still decided to have more kids.
Or perhaps him and his wife adopted special needs kids.
That I can really admire.
Whoops, I missed the key paragraph saying all but one of the kids is adopted.
And to give you another example... Years ago I was at a program given at a local university, about using music with young children with Down syndrome. Each parent there introduced themselves. As one father mentioned that his child was adopted, all the natural mothers oo-ed and awed “Kol HaCvod!” (“Oh, you are to be admired!”). [On the spot I got up and told all the other Mothers: “Why are you ooing and awing? I don’t want to diminish what he is doing, but why are you reacting as if he is so much greater than you?!? Did you not choose to keep your child? Not to abort or give away? Do you not have to deal with this child, without the veneration of society? Why are you selling your own worth short?”
I suspect that the “natural” moms reacted that way because as a society, we have been trained to react so. But why is this? Which brings us back to the first example.
I have seen several examples recently of the same type of reaction. The adoptive parent is a hero, a saint, a person to be admired. The natural parent is blamed for not aborting/preventing the birth. [I remember vividly the doctor who asked me after Ricki’s birth “Why at your age did you not do an amnio?!?” My response: “I do not believe in murdering people who are not perfect.”]
But why are the two responses so opposed? Are both sets of caretakers not going through the same grill of treatment schedules, doctor’s visits, etc?
The answer is easy: MONEY. One parent is costing society money, by bringing this less-than-perfect child into the world. The other is taking care of a child that would cost society money to institutionalize otherwise. So it seems that SAINTHOOD is dependent on how much money you save society. Because society does not worship G-d, but the almighty dollar. And I am afraid that we may see much more of a backlash in the years ahead, as society will begin to demand that births of the “imperfect” be prevented.
And this is a big challenge to our culture. Because where does that end? I have read recently of people criticizing someone who gave charity to a beggar on the street, because the beggar could change and not ask others for money. The giver of alms was yelled at “You are encouraging him!” At the same time, we are surrounded more and more by expectations that when you get old, it is best to pull the plug, commit suicide, or otherwise spare society the expenses of your continued existence. [We spend years building up everyone’s self esteem, and then yank it out from under them after 60 or 70...]
So the question is.... how will society decide when the dollar takes precedence over the sanctity of human life? Who will we decide is expendable? I’m not sure I want to be around in twenty years to hear the answers.