August 17, 2009
In the past, I've mentioned here that my thoughts on the pro-life, pro-choice debates were not black and white. While I would never, ever consider having an abortion, years of seeing child abuse made me reluctant to say that someone who doesn't want to (or shouldn't) have a child, should be forced to have one. And while I adore the idea of adoption and hope to do it someday, many cultures have big reservations about giving up one of their own so it's not an automatic default for families unprepared for a child. The other large reason for abortions is knowledge of birth defect or illness. Some children are born into a life of unimaginable pain and sickness. Should we require them to be born to the painful life they lead? Regardless, unsure of where my stance is, I have taken stances (soapboxes) on a multitude of other things (living wage, poverty, healthcare) and have left abortion to the politicians and religious leaders. Slowly though, over the past few years, God has really taught me more and more and I've felt myself being convicted about this issue. I know that, in regards to child abuse, I have to look no farther than my own mother to see that a child of heinous, horrific backgrounds, can grow up to make an enormous difference in the world. I wouldn't be here, nor would my brother and sister had my mom not been born. It sounds simplistic, but I cannot fathom this planet without Patrick and Katie on it. In my mind, it would be a vastly different place minus those two people and I truly do not think the few billion more people on earth could take their very specific, unique and wonderful place. And in regards to a child who will be born with such great pain, I learned some things last week, when I found myself in Athens at a memorial service for a precious 3-year-old little girl.
Little A. is the daughter of a former co-worker. I remember when her mom was pregnant with her and her family was told of her heart defect. Their daughter's future was certain of only one thing, that if she were born, the roads would all be uphill and the challenges would be many. I know this family, and I know of their deep, deep faith. I do not know what options they considered, but Little A joined her 2 big sisters in the big, wide world. 12 weeks after her birth, she had a heart transplant. And for the last 3 years, she has struggled and fought. Her dad said she averaged one medical procedure week. From lab work to shunts to IV antibiotics to fight off the newest infection, to surgeries and painful procedures, she endured like a champ.
Some in the world might suggest that little A not have had to endure so much, that bringing her into the world secured her place in the boxing ring, constantly being pummeled by her disease. I have seen families through DFCS and this hospital now be tortured by illness of their child. I have watched their children be tortured. And I am not insensitive to the many ethical questions that are raised by this. But, I will tell you this. The memorial service for 3-year-old little A, clarified something for me.
She absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, should have been born. There were hundreds and hundreds of people at that service. We were all sobbing as we watched the slide show show this little girls life, all the ups and downs. I sobbed big, ugly, breathless sobs for the little girl I had the priviledge to hold during one of her many Atlanta hospital stays as her mama snuck in a bite to eat. I sobbed for the precious baby I felt against my chest and thanked God for the chance to have done that. I sobbed for her sisters, now just 2 on this earth, missing their 3rd musketeer. I sobbed for the 300+ people who are missing that little girl.
But then I stopped sobbing. And I recognized what happened with her parents' decision to give her life. By my own calculations, some in that huge group came to know and believe in a loving God because of A. Some hugged their kids tighter each night, knowing that life is fragile. Maybe one or two chose to adopt and give a special needs child a home, seeing the joy that little A could bring to a room. Maybe another one grieved over their own choice to terminate a pregnancy and vowed to respect all life. Maybe one, ambivalant social worker, realized that at least 300 lives were made better, more whole, more faithful, more devout, more caring, more loving, more commited, more joyous, more complete by that little girl, NONE of which would have happpened had her parents made the painful choice to prevent her pain and suffering with a termination of the pregnancy. Maybe one, wishy washy social worker realized that GOD is in control of life and just as He walked her mama through hell for a specific purpose, so did He walk little A though many trials for a very, very important purpose. And because He is SO flipping GOOD, I know that little A laughed with her sisters and experienced such love and joy in her family. Her life was GOOD. And my mom, despite all those early traumas, has had love and joy in her life. Her life IS GOOD.
So, thank you, little A. Because of your life, and your parents' selfless decision to give you life, I now wholeheartedly, without question or reservation, CHOOSE LIFE.