Meet Christina the Survivor
My nine year old daughter is a survivor.
Christina is one of only 8% of children with Down syndrome who make it to birth after her mother received a pre-natal diagnosis. But she doesn't know she is special, she's too busy living life.
We get up at seven-thirty every morning to watch "Martha Speaks" while she is getting dressed for school and washing her face. At eight, its downstairs for one episode of "Curious George" while Christina eats breakfast and puts on her shoes, while I pack her lunch. Off to school in my car at 8:15 up the hill where the cows graze, regarding us placidly as we drive by. We are praying for a good day where we "listen to our teachers, learn to read and write, and have fun with our friends".
Soon Christina runs into her classroom, puts away her backpack, and coat, and grabs the rainstick, creating a soothing sound of tropical rain as she regards herself in the mirror. I kiss her goodbye and go home to advocate for her in my writing, spending my time waxing eloquent in defense of her right to be born.
As more women are being given the opportunity to take a new non-invasive pre-natal test called MaterniT21, the chances that children like Christina will populate neighborhood schools learning to read, write and get along with their friends will diminish alarmingly. Perhaps she will soon see no more almond eyed little girls in Kindergarten as she does now, when little Caren greets her each morning.
MaterniT21 uses the mother's blood in the tenth week of pregnancy to give a 99% accurate prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for her unborn child. Statistics say that there is an overwhelming chance that she will chose to abort her child, despite my best effortst to communicate the fact that there has never been a better time to give birth to a child with Down syndrome. That researchers like Dr Alberto Costa are conducting amazing clinical trials with drugs which promise to make our daughters' thinking and memory completely normal. Despite the fact that people with Down syndrome live to sixty and are increasingly graduating high school, holding jobs, and creating meaningful relationships. Old stereotypes persist, and mothers are afraid to raise a child with challgenes.
Soon my writing day is over, as the school bus rumbles down our hill, and the smile will bloom on Christina's face as she recognizes me waiting for her. Her descent from her throne on the bus is a lengthy one, each of her friends must say "goodbye" before she will leave, creating a small traffic jam behind the bus. The bus driver smiles; of all the drivers who wanted to drive my daughter home from school; she won. Yes, my daughter has won over our quiet village in Connecticut with the idea that life with Down syndrome is worth living.
But will her mother be able to win over the rest of the world?
Author of "A Special Mother is Born".