Friday, May 16, 2008

Book Review: Gifts

“Down syndrome is the most common genetic condition, happening once in every 730 births. Down syndrome occurs among people of all races and all economic levels and affects more than 350,000 American families.” The sixty-three women who share their stories of raising a child with Down syndrome in “Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives” breathe life into that statistic.

Kathryn Lynard Soper’s son Thomas was born premature and with Down syndrome. In inviting women to share their stories in “Gifts” she wanted to “create the book I wished I could have read during the long dark winter following Thomas’s birth.” These stories are stories of hope and love and of children who change the lives of the families they entered. There is pain, too: the pain of difficult medical procedures, lost hopes, and adjusting to a life different from the one envisioned. However, none of these women would change their lives. They love their children and have learned much from them. As Sopor states, all of these mothers have “come to understand that life – including life with an extra chromosome – is a gift. A good gift.”

“Gifts” is incredibly pro-life. Many of these women were given the option to terminate their pregnancy. For some, there was no question that they were going to carry their child through to birth. Others struggled long and hard with the decision. All chose life. As mother Catherine Finn states, “I want the world to understand that every child, whether they have a disability or not, deserves equal opportunities to grow and develop. I want to emphasize that children with Down syndrome are more similar than different when compared with other children.”

“Gifts” is an amazing book with parenting lessons even for those whose children don’t have disabilities. The stories will open your eyes and touch your heart. It is an invaluable resource for those facing a diagnosis of Down syndrome in their own child.



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