Accepting Each Other: The Child who is "Different"

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

We are blessed to have five sons on this earth. Three of them have already given us the gift of daughter-in-loves. When they all come home to celebrate holidays, meals are very lively and joyful with our sons, their wives, our friends and family.

We prayed and hoped for the arrival of each of our sons. When we were waiting for our youngest, who is now 21 years old, I was only 25 years old. The doctor who did the first ultrasound already knew me, since he had followed several of my previous pregnancies. As he followed the ultrasound protocol, we chatted and joked lightly that I was already back.

And then, suddenly, he was silent and his face became serious. He got his courage up and then told me that our baby was not "normal" and that he probably had Down's Syndrome. He advised me to think about a therapeutic termination of pregnancy.

For us, this was obviously not an option. We stopped going to this doctor and found a gynecologist who would agree to treat us in this "different" pregnancy.

Living with a “different” child is a real challenge. So we prayed, “Lord, help us to understand.” Then we looked around, looking for families who could tell us about their challenge, but also about their happiness in having welcomed a "different" child.

Thousands of thoughts jostled in my head:

  • Would we be up to it?

  • How are we going to manage the challenges relating to the time that this “difference” would take us compared to the four big brothers of 1, 4, 5, 6 years old?

  • How will people around us react?

  • What happens to my investment in ministry, with a child who will undoubtedly be in our care for all of our lives?

  • What will he do when we are gone?

Of course, we have never paid close attention to any of the children with Down's Syndrome around us. Our eyes were suddenly drawn to them in a way that they had never been focused before that time.

Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Are you the parent of a different child? Or are you one of those who watched, assisted and accompanied families on a similar adventure? Or were you possibly critical of such families?

These different children are a gift from God. He is there with you when the pressure and the pain are too strong and He will give you the strength to get through difficult times. But above all that, these different children are a treasure that God has entrusted to you.

After the announcement of this complicated pregnancy, Eric and I thought at length, "Should we talk about it with our Church?” We decided to share this news at the prayer meeting so the Church could pray with us, not necessarily for a change in circumstances, but for God to help and accompany us.

The vast majority of Christians reacted magnificently (Thank you!). But I must admit some reactions deeply shocked me:

"Why did God allow this in your family, Pastors?"
"It is not fair! God is unjust!"
"What did you do to deserve this? Do you have a hidden sin?” etc…

Today, writing these sentences makes me smile, but at the time, they made me cry with rage.

A "different" child is neither a curse nor a punishment! Sin has entered humanity, and we are not in a "perfect" world. There are illnesses, challenges, children who are born with cancer, a heart defect, or an extra chromosome. This is life!

The best response we have received came from a family whose son was autistic. He had a very severe form of autism. No one really could communicate with him. He was violent most of the time. Their situation was a very difficult one.

This couple told us, “After questioning and crying before God about our daily life, which was filled with so much difficulty for our son, God spoke to us and consoled us!” God had told them that He was looking for a family to entrust this "different" child, and that He had chosen their own. God had encouraged them by reassuring them they could bring Him all the love a child needs from his parents, even in the midst of awkwardness, discouragement, anger, etc. God then showed them all the doors that He would open for this family to other families who were going through similar situations. Their "difference" had become their "ministry".

Everyday life was difficult, but these parents were convinced that they were in the place where God wanted them, with the family that God had entrusted to them.

This meeting with this family shook us during the pregnancy of our fifth son. We said “yes” to the Lord to welcome this child whom all the doctors announced to us as severely handicapped. A peace then invaded our hearts. The moment of birth arrived, and an army of doctors, pediatricians, surgeons was present. After Elie was born, he was quickly taken away by the pediatrician who came back and declared,

"This baby is perfect. Do not worry."

Thank you Lord for our son Elie! He was born with the normal number of chromosomes. But one thing is certain, we would not have loved him less if he had more!

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Rachel Miquel Dufour