Last night I rearranged the pictures on the walls and mantles in our house, moving the old, outdated portraits of the kids and replacing them with the ones we had taken this summer. It's such a lovely chore - time to look at those old pictures and try to remember what the kids sounded like, what they did at each of those stages. And I am a bit of a framed photo junkie - Silas gets frustrated with that by times - all our blank wall space filled with pictures, all our flat surfaces covered in propped-up framed memories. But as my friend Brenda would have said, I can't help it; I was born that way.
When I rearranged things last night, I hung all the old portraits of the kids (we have them taken once a year) on the wall above the landing at the bottom of the stairs. So when I descended the stairs, bleary-eyed and bushy-haired, this morning, I was greeted by so many smiling faces of our three kids. Talk about starting your day off right.
The photos of the boys seemed especially poignant. My boys, Jacob and Josh, are twins, both with Down Syndrome, who we adopted when they were five months old. Their sweet, mischievous faces smiled out at me from behind the glass of the picture frames, reminding me of so much...getting the call from Children's Aid that there were twins - TWINS! - with Down Syndrome who needed a home...meeting them for the first time at their foster home when they were still sharing one crib...the times when we could plop them on a blanket in the middle of the living room floor and they would actually stay there, balancing on their bellies with their arms and legs outstretched like little airplanes...big sister Maggie singing "I love you forever..." to her brothers in their cribs at bedtime...the list is endless and fills me with warm feelings and gratitude.
And those memories stand out today because of something I read on Chewing the Fat, Dave Hingsburger's blog. (If you don't read this blog, you must. Trust me. The link is posted on the sidebar of my blog's front page.) Apparently, in Italy there is a recent case of a couple who were expecting twins, one of whom was discovered, in utero, to have Down Syndrome. So the couple chose to have that fetus aborted. After the abortion, the doctors discovered they had aborted the "wrong" baby. The "healthy" child was aborted and the child with Downs survived. So, of course, a second abortion was performed.
The tragedy described was the one of the mistakenly aborted "healthy" child, never given the chance to be born and thrive and live a productive life. This morning I looked at the photos of my beautiful boys and thought about the real tragedy. The tragedy of discrimination, the tragedy of the medical model of perfection, the tragedy of lives lost to what masquerades as progress.