Open letter to Gammy's parents

To the parents who [allegedly] abandoned their child with Down Syndrome,

I’m sure that since your story surfaced a few days ago you feel as if the world hates you. There have been so many harsh comments about how heartless you are, how disgusted they are, that you don’t deserve to be parents…the list goes on…there a lot of anger and judgement.  But you can’t blame people for this. People form opinions on the information they have and their own life experience.

I’m not here to judge you, I don’t believe anyone has the right to judge other peoples actions. I do however feel sad for you, and sick to the stomach.

You see, I could have been you…

Last year, our life was forever changed when we were told that Lulu, our beautiful 8 week old daughter, had Down Syndrome.

It was not detected in utero or at her birth. Our paediatrician tested her on our first check up as her almond shaped eyes were unlike any in our family, he said he was 90% sure she didn’t have it…turns out we’re in the top 10%.

Shock, sadness, regret, uncertainty, fear – were all emotions that were swirling within us but there were others too – hope, certainty & love. We had a gorgeous little girl. She had her daddy’s feet, her mummy’s nose & beautiful almond shaped eyes. You see, she was still our daughter. She had parts of both my partner and myself, she just happened to have something extra, an extra chromosome, resulting in Down Syndrome.

We could have fallen in a heap there and then, lamenting “WHY US?” but we decided to look at it from a different perspective – “Why not us?” we didn’t choose this, for us or for our daughter, but it was now our reality and we were going to make it the best damn reality we could!  We’re lucky that we live in an age where there are so many options for people with special needs. There’s also great online communities & we have a fabulous support network of family & friends. It’s not until you’re in a situation like ours that you realise how much love there is in the world. People want to help, embrace and support. You just need to look for it and when you do, it’s there.

But, do you know who’s been the biggest help of all? Lulu herself.

She is now a beautiful, chubby 10 month old who lights up our life. Lulu loves to smile at EVERYONE! In fact when we walk down the street Lulu likes me to carry her over my shoulder so she can smile at the people walking behind us. It doesn’t matter who you are – old, young, tall, short, clean cut, rough looking, happy, sad – she has a smile for you and will give it to you (even if you’re looking the other way) and if you get close enough she will reach out and try to touch your face, stroke your cheek and make a connection with you. People are drawn to Lulu like moths to a flame and everyone who has contact with her walks away with a smile on their face.

You see, Lulu is love. That’s all I see within her and it’s like she wants to share this love with the rest of the world. I feel so lucky and blessed to see this unfold on a daily basis. It makes the diagnosis of Down Syndrome seem like nothing more than a different journey. One filled with new experiences, challenges (like any parenting) and love.

I have been asked a few times over the past few days – “If you found out Lulu had Down Syndrome while you were pregnant, would you have aborted or had her?”. Honestly, I don’t know.  I don’t think anyone can really say what they’d do in that situation until they’re actually in it.  Knowing what I do now though, I can say that I would have my child, Down Syndrome or not. But that’s only because I’m on ‘the other side’. I now know better. Down Syndrome only gives you the limitations you set for it.

Who knows what you were both feeling when you found out that the child you had longed for for so long was not what you were expecting. Telling the mother that you [allegedly] wanted her to abort the child could have been one of the hardest decisions you had to make. No one but you will never know what you went through. Whether there was pain, anguish, sleepless nights or indifference. Only you know what it cost you, and what it is now costing you as the world looks upon your decision with scorn.

As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I don’t judge you, you made the best decision for you at the time. I just want to tell you that being a parent of a child with Down Syndrome is not a bad thing, it fact it’s the complete opposite, it opens your eyes to a new world you never knew existed. And whatever decisions you made in the past, it’s not too late to make new one.

There is a little boy who could bring so much love and joy to your life. It’s not too late to make contact and establish a relationship. Do it for him, do it for his twin (they have a bond that can’t be surpassed) but most of all do it for you.

Kind regards,

Jade Aroha Papesch

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