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The Blessing of Special Children

By Judie Brown

My brother Mark was born 70 years ago with a condition that, at the time, was called “blue baby” syndrome. In addition, he had Down syndrome, another condition which, at the time, was not always treated in the proper way. My brother died at the age of two and a half from a cold that developed into pneumonia. He was in every sense of the word a blessing to our family. He was a smiler and a joyful little man who unconditionally loved his life and loved us, his family.

I was reminded of him the other day when I read a Twitter post by the father of a little boy who, like Mark, was born with special needs. I was so touched with that post about “Iron Will” that I had to share it with you. His dad wrote:

I’m going to need Will to understand boundaries for his own safety and to respect others’ space. At the same time, I’m not going to be apologetic about the fact that his exuberance for life makes some people uncomfortable. There’s a fine line there somewhere. As he grows, he’ll need to be able to create boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. But he also has incredible gifts like compassion, joy, and tenderness which are sorely needed in this world.

I don’t know what the right answer is. He’s young so most people don’t mind him fist bumping them, enthusiastically greeting them, or checking on them if they look sad. But I have a feeling as he grows that won’t be the case. It should be. And I hope I’m wrong. But from what I see even here on IG, as our kids grow older, people become less kind to them. Personally, I think if we all took a page from Will’s book, the world would be a much more pleasant place.

Think for a moment about the profound message these words have for our troubled world. Imagine that the touch of a child or simple hugs from others can affirm in our hearts that human beings are precious, that you as an individual are unique and a genuine blessing.

I have seen several generations come and go in my 80 years of life, but as my beloved husband would remind me nearly every day, if we do not “stop and smell the roses,” we miss the most beautiful gifts that God has given to us.

Among those gifts are special children like Will, special moments like the one you may be having right now, and special interactions with God who never disappoints.

Yes, Will has a loving family. Our goal as totally pro-life people is to shine a light on such families and appreciate them for who they are. In that regard we share these loving words from one of the most remarkable Catholic priests I have ever known, Father John Hardon, SJ, who wrote:

Before God, parents have received a sacred trust. No one has a higher trust than they. No one has a higher responsibility. But, I must add, no one can take either the trust or the responsibility away. It belongs to the parents because it is given to them by God. The children they call theirs are first of all His. They came from Him and they are destined for Him.

That is why God became a child, to teach us how simple it is to reach heaven, if only we are humble enough to listen to His words, and for parents, courageous enough to lay down their lives, if need be, for the souls entrusted to their loving custody.

May the blessing of every child and the example of their devoted families remind us that God is ever present to each of us, His children. Praise Him and celebrate His gifts, including your identity as a unique, unrepeatable special child of God.