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Parenting Special-Needs Children
Sharon's prenatal ultrasound looked ominous. She knew others with similar ultrasounds who had delivered perfectly normal children, but all indications were that her child had Down Syndrome. He was one of those infants who typically wind up in the trash, either aborted or abandoned. Because of their worldview, however, Sharon and Burt Kettinger chose to keep the child.
B. J. was a month premature, with two heart defects. Vital functions stopped three times in a twenty-four-hour period. He was hospitalized nearly five months. Surrounded by specialists, the parents soon found life very exhausting. Complicating it further were insurance challenges. A doctor belittled Sharon, saying she had acted "very irresponsibly" in bringing one "like him" into the world.
B. J. couldn't walk until age 3. At age 15, he still has trouble with speech. Yet when anyone says "Down Syndrome child," his parents Burt and Sharon respond, "He is first a child, who happens to have Down Syndrome." Four out of five marriages in this situation, break up under the strain. When a father sees the long-term commitment required, he often abandons the mother at the time she needs help most.
The Kettingers stayed together, but a "special needs child" needs supplemental help. Church friends arranged transportation for Sharon's fifty-eight-mile daily round trip to the hospital. Neighbors helped with laundry, vacuuming, and meals. A nurse watched B. J. so Sharon could attend church.
And the exhaustion in part destroys the families, so parents critically need relief. Parents need time away from their child so they can focus on their relationship. Friends have stayed with B. J., once for twelve days. One church provides a regular respite evening for children, including some 40- or 50-year-olds.
To make it all work Burt stresses the need for volunteer training, spiritual responsibility, and patience, and familiar with C.P.R. Sign language can be helpful, and a hundred details need to be in place. It demands that the Church be the Church.
Burt says, "God isn't looking for experts, but those who are willing and not afraid to learn." Kids with special needs will respond more slowly, but their emotions are intact. Praise and humor go a long way.
B. J. is a Big Job, but he's also a Big Joy. Burt observes, "B. J. can make almost anyone smile. He has unending empathy for others. . . . In terms of heart and spirit, he outdoes us." When he earned AWANA's Timothy Award, another child exclaimed, "Wow, he's pretty smart for being retarded!"
What does it mean to be pro-life? Just signing petitions and affirming an abstract concept? Or responding to needs when you meet a couple who followed their pro-life convictions by giving birth to a "special needs child" they could have aborted?
We salute the Kettingers and others who have ignored the "pro-choice" rhetoric and made the difficult, courageous choice -- giving birth to a child they knew would have "special needs." And three cheers for all the volunteers who have helped out over the years. Parents like this need a hand -- not just in applause, but in lifting the extra burden.
Burt summarizes, "It's one thing to sing, 'Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord,' but another to be the one coming in God's stead."
"BreakPoint with Chuck Colson" is a daily commentary on news and trends from a Christian perspective. Heard on more than 1000 radio outlets nationwide, BreakPoint transcripts are also available on the Internet.
Recently, while I was on a shopping trip at a mall in Chapel Hill*, I heard a UNC co-ed talking to her date on the down escalator. She said, "What do they do when the basement gets full of steps?'" * http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/
Howdy says: "FORWARD TO FRIENDS & YOUR MAMA!" First Published In Last Century - July 26,1997 Thought For The OPEN Mind - Humor From American Culture
=============== If you stop believing what your professor told you had to be true and if you start thinking for yourself you may come to some conclusions you hadn't expected. You may find the Bible makes more sense than you thought or were told to think. Allow yourself to be ruined, ruined with regard to what you always thought could be true. Can you believe what you don't understand? You and I believe everyday what we don't understand unless it comes to the issue of salvation. - - - Dr. Woodrow Kroll
There is simply no historic foundation for the position that the Framers intended to build the 'wall of separation' that was constitutionalized in Everson. The 'wall of separation be- tween church and state' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. - - - Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, William Rehnquist
In 1796 the US Supreme Court issued this ruling, "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion, and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on equal footing." Some 57 years later, after Congress was petitioned to separate Christian principles from government, in 1853 the House Judiciary Committee issued their formal report, including these words: "In this age there is no substitute for Christianity. This was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to be the religion of their dependents. The great vital, conservative elements in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ." - - - Dr. Gerald Beavan
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord." -- President Abraham Lincoln