World Down Syndrome Day: My child has Down syndrome and I do not need your admiration

My wife Jodi and I are blessed with four amazing children – Levi, Luke, Isaac and Addilyn. Isaac, who is 15, has Down syndrome. He was an unexpected blessing and continues to bring joy to our life every day. Our family and friends who are lucky enough to know Isaac will be more compassionate people because of it. 

Wednesday is World Down Syndrome Day, a day when the syndrome draws increased attention. No person wants their child to have Down syndrome. But some of the best things in life are surprises. 

To some, our family isn’t perfect. But, what really is perfection? To me, our family is exactly the way God wanted it to be. After all, God doesn’t give us any situation without the strength to face it.

And no – I do not want to be admired. I do not want your sympathy or for you to look at me differently because my child has Down syndrome. It is Isaac who should be admired. Every day with Isaac is a cause for celebration, whether he is surprising us with something new he learned or the happiness and joy he brings into every room he walks into.

Isaac’s life is a gift. And you know what? I feel bad for people who don’t have an Isaac in their lives, because some people, like Isaac, just spread sunshine wherever they go!

Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus wrote a column earlier this month headlined: “I would’ve aborted a fetus with Down syndrome. Women need that right.”

My response is that we must not devalue any human life. Instead of focusing on a perceived flaw, we need to focus on a person’s ability to have a positive impact on this world.

Pete Stauber

Just because there is testing and we can see this specific imperfection early on, why should it be our decision to determine whether or not someone deserves life? While we perceive there will be challenges that this person will face later in life, why does this give us the right to decide that he or she should not be born? 

If it becomes the norm to abort children because they are not what we wanted, what’s next? Will we abandon children because they are not the gender we hoped for? Will we disown our children because they have brown eyes instead of blue? Will we look at an ultrasound, counting fingers and toes and end a life because it is not our vision of perfect?

Pete Stauber

Being different shouldn’t be a crime punishable by death. After all, we are all different. 

All of my children will face challenges in their lives, However, Isaac doesn’t wake up in the morning worried about challenges. He wakes up every day with the excitement of opportunity that lies ahead. The opportunity to greet each family member with a good morning hug. The opportunity to listen to his favorite music. The opportunity to shake hands with friends and share some ice cream and his favorite movies.

Isaac’s life is a gift. And you know what? I feel bad for people who don’t have an Isaac in their lives, because some people, like Isaac, just spread sunshine wherever they go!

I am pro-life. I support life from conception to natural death and I will fight the rhetoric that one person’s life is not worthy just because they are not what we thought we wanted.

Pete Stauber is a Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota.