Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Andrea says: I looked forward to having another baby to complete our family.  Our daughter is 5 and our son is 3. Both are over that “baby” stage and I feel as if I can handle another little one. A few months ago I was thrilled to find out my husband, Frank, and I were expecting. I feel blessed that due to Frank’s well-paid employment, I am able to stay home and be a full-time mom.

At my recent OB/GYN appointment I was told there may be a problem with this baby, especially the possibility of Down syndrome. It was suggested I get an amniocentesis diagnostic test to check this out. I have reservations about doing such a test, since there is a slight risk of causing a spontaneous termination (miscarriage).

I have no intentions of getting an abortion should the diagnosis be confirmed … but, I also am concerned about how we will cope with a child with this diagnosis.

He Says:

Frank says: This decision about amniocentesis is completely up to Andrea to decide. I feel good about the idea of having a baby join our family, but I am troubled about how we would cope with a “less than perfect” child.

I remember when I was young, I had a cousin with Down syndrome. We saw each other when our families got together as kids. I remember my aunt and uncle seemed to enjoy this child and took him everywhere they went. They moved to the West Coast, so I have not seen that much of that part of our family for years. I am not sure how I would handle having a child with Down syndrome.

What do they do?

This couple needs not only to talk to each other about this situation, but also to make decisions together. Frank needs to input his thoughts about the amniocentesis: What does he know about amniocentesis? Does he have any concerns? Would getting the diagnosis confirmed change anything with regard to their baby? Talk to each other. Pray with each other.

This child is a gift that God is sending to them. This child will be “perfect” despite any diagnosis. He or she will be their special baby.

Both Andrea and Frank need to find out more about Down syndrome babies and speak to other parents about their children who happen to have been born with Down syndrome. They can glean much from attending a support group for Down syndrome parenting. Websites such as the National Down Syndrome Society provide a wealth of information for parents.

Different parents handle circumstances differently. One couple we knew who had a son with Down syndrome were concerned that he would grow up feeling “different,” so they adopted another boy with Down syndrome. These two became the best of buddies and their growing up years were filled with love and joy for both the boys and the parents and other children in the family. Neighbors and friends were delighted by their antics and best of all, they realized they are not so “different” from others after all.

Frank has a positive remembrance of his cousin and how well his aunt and uncle cared for him, accepting him fully as a member of their family. Perhaps the focus should be put there: on educating themselves about the specific challenges that might be forthcoming with this baby. Often special children, with specific needs, can bring a beauty into a family that otherwise would not have been there.

Respecting life in all the forms sent by God is exceptional in today’s world. We do not see many Down syndrome children because the majority of them identified in the womb are aborted today. Many in our culture do not recognize a pregnancy to be “valid” unless the baby is “perfect.”

God has presented Andrea and Frank with a unique and special challenge for their family. They need to place their fears and worries in his hands and be at peace.

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!” (Psalm 139:13-14).