Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I've been wanting to do a post all month since this is "National Sanctity of Life Month", so here it is on the eve of the last day of the month and I'm finally getting around to it. 

I grew up in a Christian home, attended church regularly, read and memorized scripture, including the verses in Psalm 139: 13,14 that say,
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

However, it wasn't until 19 weeks into my 2nd pregnancy that my belief in whether those words were true or not would be tested.  The phone call from the doctor at 4:30 on a Thursday afternoon in October 1997, confirming a diagnosis of Down syndrome for the baby girl I was carrying, would bring me to a crisis of faith I could never have imagined. 

Did I really believe that this baby was fearfully and wonderfully made?  A wonderful work of God?  If I put my belief in the way society views individuals with special needs, then I would certainly think the Bible had it all wrong in this case.  90% of babies with Down syndrome are aborted in our society because they aren't viewed as fearfully and wonderfully made.  My own doctor was quick to remind me that I wasn't too far along in my pregnancy to choose that option as well. 

I'd be lying if I said that this 'quick answer to the problem' didn't find its way into my swirl of emotions and thoughts that first 24hrs.  I too struggled with viewing this baby as anything but wonderful.  All of my hopes of having the daughter of my dreams were dashed with this diagnosis of 'perceived imperfection'.  I cried out to God and asked him how this fit into his Word that says we are ALL "fearfully and wonderfully made".

I didn't get a quick response from God on this one.  In fact, He has patiently used the last 12 (almost 13) years with Josi in our lives (and now Nadia) to teach me the truth of those verses.  Sometimes he has had to knock me over the head with a two-by-four, other times he gives me treasured moments of 'normalcy' to show me that ALL of his creation is JUST the way He meant it to be.

Most recently, He's shown me through the amazing lives of hundreds of families who actually seek out children with disabilities to become part of their families, just how "fearfully and wonderfully made" ALL children are and the VALUE they have not only in God's eyes but in the eyes of those who believe those verses are true.  Not just the ones that are so cute that you just want to smother them with kisses, but even the ones that at first glance you're tempted to turn away from.  They are ALL WONDERFUL because they are ALL WORKS OF GOD.  

I don't profess to be 'there' yet on this issue, and I still struggle with the desire to have a 'typical' daughter in my life, but I'm thankful that God has given me not one, but two, living, breathing, 24/7 reminders that His standards of perfection are WAY different...and I dare say,much better than what the world's are. 

I'll leave you with this column that you may or may not have read already that I've always loved. It's a tribute to Moms who are raising children with special needs. 


My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what she wants. She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer mothers have given throughout the ages of time. She says it doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or a girl. She just wants it to have ten fingers and ten toes. Of course, that’s what she says. That’s what mothers have always said.

 Mothers lie.

Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more. Every mother wants a perfectly healthy baby with a round head, rosebud lips, button nose, beautiful eyes and satin skin.

Every mother wants a baby so gorgeous that people will pity the Gerber baby for being flat-out ugly. Every mother wants a baby that will roll over, sit up and take those first steps right on schedule (according to the baby development chart on page 57, column two). Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear, run, jump and fire neurons by the billions. She wants a kid that can smack the ball out of the park and do toe points that are the envy of the entire ballet class. Call it greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want.

Some mothers get babies with something more. Some mothers get babies with conditions they can’t pronounce, a spine that didn’t fuse, a missing chromosome or a palette that didn’t close. Most of those mothers can remember the time, the place, the shoes they were wearing and the color of the walls in the small,suffocating room where the doctor uttered the words that took their breath away. It felt like recess in the fourth grade when you didn’t see the kick ball coming and it knocked the wind clean out of you.

Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months, even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule her for a well check, and crash head first into a brick wall as they bear the brunt of devastating news. It can’t be possible! That doesn’t run in our family. Can this really be happening in our lifetime? I am a woman who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing finely sculpted bodies. It’s not a lust thing; it’s a wondrous thing. The athletes appear as specimens without flaw - rippling muscles with nary an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of strength with lungs and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the athlete walks over to a tote bag, rustles through the contents and pulls out an inhaler.

As I’ve told my own kids, be it on the way to physical therapy after a third knee surgery, or on a trip home from an echo cardiogram, there’s no such thing as a perfect body. Everybody will bear something at some time or another. Maybe the affliction will be apparent to curious eyes, or maybe it will be unseen, quietly treated with trips to the doctor, medication or surgery. The health problems our children have experienced have been minimal and manageable, so I watch with keen interest and great admiration the mothers of children with serious disabilities, and wonder how they do it.

 Frankly, sometimes you mothers scare me. How you lift that child in and out of a wheelchair 20 times a day. How you monitor tests, track medications, regulate diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred specialists yammering in your ear. I wonder how you endure the clichés and the platitudes, well-intentioned souls explaining how God is at work when you’ve occasionally questioned if God is on strike. I even wonder how you endure schmaltzy pieces like this one — saluting you, painting you as hero and saint, when you know you’re ordinary. You snap, you bark, you bite. You didn’t volunteer for this. You didn’t jump up and down in the motherhood line yelling, “Choose me, God! Choose me! I’ve got what it takes.”

You’re a woman who doesn’t have time to step back and put things in perspective, so, please, let me do it for you. From where I sit, you’re way ahead of the pack. You’ve developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil. You have a heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box in July, carefully counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an Ozark mule. You can be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances require, intense and aggressive the next. You are the mother, advocate and protector of a child with a disability. You’re a neighbor, a friend, a stranger I pass at the mall. You’re the woman I sit next to at church, my cousin and my sister-in-law. You’re a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got something more.

You’re a wonder.

Written by: Lori Borgman Columnist and Speaker


...and Wonderfully Made!


  1. They most certainly are fearfully and wonderfully made! Thank you, Kristin for sharing so openly and honestly. I too salute "special" Moms!

  2. AMEN Kristin!! I have the same feelings sometimes about my oldest son. I wondered for years who God thought I was to think I could handle a special needs boy. I longed for the little dark haired sweetheart that was my son before things changed so drastically when he was 4. He was so loving and snuggly, and adorable, bright, and fun... then suddenly, it was like he was replaced with this angry, mean, rigid, easily frustrated child that I didn't know... Autism "took" my sweet little boy, and I wanted him back!! Even now that he is 15, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a "typical" son. One that liked sports, and had friends, maybe a girlfriend... instead of IEPs, and the mental age of about an 11 year old... Then, as if to answer that question, God showed me our precious Timothy. I realized that God has been preparing me for years for the blessing of our little guy! I don't know what I'd do without either of my boys (or my girls for that matter! hehe)!! I still wonder what in the world we were thinking having FOUR kiddos(God really does have a sense of humor), but I am SO thankful for our blessings! You have beautiful children, and you are right... they are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made!! God is good!!

  3. BEAUTIFUL post Kristin! Just PERFECT!!!!

  4. I remember reading Lori Borgman's piece a couple of years ago. I enjoying reading it again this morning :)! What strikes me, especially after reading your post above, is that we weren't jumping up and down shouting "Choose Me!" with Josi and Bridget. If we were, we certainly didn't know it :). But then a few years later, we consciously chose to parent another "special" child, a child with a known diagnosis. And we went much further than jumping up and down with Nadia and Alina. Getting to those girls was truly a labor of love. All the appointments, paperwork and trips to downtown for apostilles...the waiting, and wondering and praying. The packing, planning and preparing...the long journey overseas. All because we know--in a very real way--the beauty and perfection in all people.

    The pictures of the girls are adorable. All of your children are gorgeous in all ways.

    Love you...even if you are as stubburn as an Ozark mule sometimes. I think I might be, too ;).

  5. Thank you! I needed to read this today :o) There's a certain irony for me... I struggled with infertility for years. In that time, I can't tell you how many times I cried out to G-d, saying "I'll do ANYTHING for a baby!"

    So far, He has held me to that! LOL! I may be exhausted at times, but I'm doing everything in my power to uphold my end of the promise.

  6. Beautiful...all our children are beautiful and wonderfully made. Because of mother's like you, who write, who share, who tell their stories, mothers like me are choosing to bring another fearfully and wonderfully made child home to love and to cherish.

    Perfect in so many ways...

  7. Tears flowing this morning....I've not read this before. Beautiful piece. I've never dealt with a prenatal diagnosis. Prenatal loss...yes. But still, as this piece says they don't all come at birth, sometimes years later. And they hurt too. Sometimes we just ease into them and it's all about trusting God. He gave us these children....He must have a plan.


  8. Clearly, it was too early to be posting comments this morning. Please excuse all the errors in my previous comment :).

  9. Beautiful. I know that my children are perfect in the way God made them. They are such a gift from God.
    Your children are gorgeous too. Beautiful faces.
    thank you

  10. Yessssss. Wonderful post! I am clapping and saying "Amen!". God does mighty works through the "imperfect". Thank God for this or I would be deemed useless.

    Thank you for your post.

  11. That was beautiful. I have never read that before and its wonderful!!

  12. Excellent, Kristin!!!! Well said!!!

  13. Kristin, this is one of those posts that I have to print out with a copy for my fridge and a copy for my purse. Your girls certainly are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for helping us see the up side of Down. Your life, your testimony, and your family are such an inspiration to all who know you.

    Just like that columnist wrote about parents of those with special needs, I certainly agree that "You're a wonder!"

    Much Love,

  14. Wow Kristin, this post is incredible! It brought tears to my eyes. I have a cousin with down syndrome and one with autism and they are the most amazing kids.
    Someone once told me how "lucky" I was that I adopted a child with no problems, well my daughter has language delays and problems with her feet.
    Some people may not have any physical disabilities but what about character flaws, doesn't that count as imperfect?
    God has used that precious Josi to bring little Nadia into your life, His plan was perfect!
    Great post friend, God bless you!

  15. Wow, pretty deep post's lately Kristin!

    Very good, but deep :) you're makin me look bad.

    Josie and Nadia are indeed beautiful blessings to your family. I was one of those moms who thought everything was 'normal' until a well-baby check and it felt like the world was crashing down on us....


    God has a plan. Always.

    That happened to us twice. Each time we felt like the rug was pulled out from under us...but each time we had to pick up and go on and make the best of it.

    It's hard.

    But like I said, if you just put it in His hands, there is a certain, I don't know 'release' that comes with that. As you well know.

    When we adopted Toma the judge commented that no one had ever asked to seperate siblings before and THEN take the handicapped one!!! NEVER! He couldn't believe it.

    But the joy that is Toma is unmatched. The blessings he brings with him in his 'simplicity' is so refreshing to us all.

    If that makes sense.....

  16. That was a beautiful post, Kristin. And I also love the article you posted. This week at Children's I have seen so many kids with profound special needs and I, too, have wondered how their families cope. I love your honesty and transparency. :)

  17. Oh my gosh...sorry I missed your post! Soooooo far behind on life here :)

    So amazing. I LOVED that article, it is the first time I have read it. I agree....ALL kids are fearfully and wonderfully made. God does not make mistakes. It amazes me that even kids with the greatest struggles in life are for His glory--in ways we cannot see or imgine. Everything is for His glory.

    Your heart is as beautiful as you are, friend.

    I am so thankful to have YOU in my life.

  18. Amen! What a beautiful and candid post.
    Thank you for sharing, Kristen.

  19. I like Ozark mules...birds of a feather flock together?? ( :
    Beautifully said and truly fearfully and wonderfully made. Love you and your tenacious spirit.