When I was 34, I found out my son was going to be born with major heart problems and Down syndrome. Doctors encouraged abortion, but since my family and I don’t believe in this, it was not an option. However, I was terrified. How do I take care of a child with special needs? Will he even know me? We quickly educated ourselves about Down syndrome by reading, reading, reading. However, the books were starting to scare me until I realized: every child is different. He would not have all the obstacles listed in these books. We were truly going to have “on-the-job training.” We were hooked up with one of the many organizations that help disabled children, so he was on waiting lists for all kinds of help even before he arrived. I was still scared. When he was born, I asked his doctor, “Now what do I do?” He said, “Take him home and love him.” That is what we did. His heart was repaired at 3 months of age. Besides his disability, he was just a regular kid. He laughed, cried, discovered things he loves to do (swimming and dancing), and he is my life! He is very close to my entire family, and his older brother and younger sister are devoted to him. He is his own person. He sees things differently than most people (usually more logically), and he makes us laugh every day. My baby is now 18 years old. He has been in school since he was four, and he is very proud of his job that he has through school. Even though my life isn’t what I planned, it is better because of my Joshua. No child is ever a mistake.
Lourdes Hnath is a church musician and a stay-at-home mother of two sons and a daughter.