Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am writing to you in response to the heartbreaking letter written by the seventy-year-old widow who was distraught at the parents of the baby with Down syndrome putting him up for adoption. One must ask the question of “why” they came to that painful decision. There are numerous agencies and support groups that can offer realistic advice and wise counsel. There are numerous parents who can have the heart-to-heart talk on the challenges of raising a child with special needs and can also share the unimaginable nachas of raising such a special child.
While this couple has made their decision, I would beg anyone who knows of the impending birth or the actual birth of a new baby with special needs to please offer the services of so many agencies in our communities. I wrote an article for The Jewish Press (Building Blocks, Summer 2018) that addresses the issue of stigma as well as other challenges. I thank Hashem every day for blessing me with my daughter who has Down syndrome and is now 26 years old. Her attitude, middos and non-judgmental love for every Jew has changed the world for the better, and especially mine. I could not feel more proud nor feel more blessed.
Thank you so much for your beautiful letter, it gave my heart wings! I had tens of letters in regards to this column, some sad, some pro, some con and everything in between, but your pros touched on everything positive and beautiful. May you continue to derive much nachas from your special and wonderful daughter and may both of you be a shining example of what love and acceptance can and should be.
A hundred years ago, when I was 16, I chose to do my chesed as a ‘candy striper’ volunteering at the local hospital. I chose the pediatric ward because I loved children and felt I could serve best there. One of the children that came to our ward was a little boy with Down syndrome who was suffering from a malignant brain tumor. I fell in love with that little guy, who waited for me to come on shift with arms outstretched and smiles and hugs to fill the world with happiness. I so looked forward to my twice weekly shift because I knew little Benjy was waiting for me. But one day about three weeks later, I came on shift to find Benjy’s bed empty and stripped. I asked about him at the nurse’s station and was crushed to hear that he had passed away during the night. I was absolutely destroyed for days and weeks after, and it took the longest time for me to be able to think of Benjy, realizing what a great impact this little, imperfectly perfect person had made on my life. The memory of him is with me to this day.
Your daughter and the Benjys of this world can teach us what the wisest, smartest and most ingenious minds could not; the pure and simple act of loving one another without judgement or expectation. It has made me a better person, a more caring person and I will forever be grateful for the blessing of having had him in my life.