The Boy From Holland

By Michael Armijo

 

After two children, I felt that it was time to think about our “child bearing years.” We had to make a decision: Should we have another child or should we hang up our parental days? Soon after, friends of ours were pregnant and we were excited about having children. And then something happened that changed our minds…

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in varying degrees of physical and mental retardation. The disorder occurs as a result of extra genetic material. In most people, the genes are contained on 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46 chromosomes. Most people with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of the No. 21 chromosome, for a total of 47 chromosomes. Scientists aren’t sure what causes the extra genetic material to be passed from parent to child, nor how the extra genetic material causes Down Syndrome. An estimated 1 in 800 infants is born with Down Syndrome. A woman’s chance of giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome increases with age. The chance of having a baby with this syndrome is: 1 in 1,250 for a 25-year-old woman; 1 in 378 at age 35; and 1 in 30 at age 45.

Our initial reaction to our friends having a Down Syndrome baby was shock; we wondered how this could’ve happen. We felt that this was a heartbreak, an unhappy time for our friends to have to endure, but now we feel differently…

Someone shared a story with me about a 10-year-old boy who thought he was going to Paris. He was so excited because he was originally from Paris and he was looking forward to being with people who were just like him. He had read about the wonderful experience of Paris and was prepared to do all the things people do when they get there. He boarded the plane, set his hopes high for the beautiful land and experience, but was tragically shocked when his plane landed in Holland. He wanted so bad to experience Paris, and to him, Holland was such a disappointment. But then he opened his eyes and noticed something special about Holland:

He noticed the beautiful land, the wonderful culture. He noticed that people were different in Holland than they were in Paris, but they were just as beautiful. They had a different lifestyle, a different way of life, a different outlook. They were special, and they saw things in a special way. To him, Holland was a fantastic place of uniqueness and joy, a land of unconditional love. He saw things that were just unimaginable in Paris, he experienced feelings he never knew he could experience.  This 10 year old boy fell in love with Holland, the culture was just so beautiful, far too incredible of an experience to ever forget.

I believe we need to think of each element in life before we pass judgment, or come to a conclusion. I believe that we need to understand what life means to people, as it holds different meanings to different individuals. What we may think is misfortune, can sometimes be opportunity. As my friend, who bore a child that is different from the majority of our world, now has the incredible opportunity to experience a love that others may never be able to understand. He and his wife will see life through the eyes of true believers of love, realizing what it really means to love a child, unconditionally, free from judgment. God has given them an opportunity to feel a life that others will never have the opportunity to experience. He will still love his child for his athletic ability, for his academic success, and for his professional goals, but on a different level of accomplishment. He will see his child excel, and he’ll always feel a childlike warmth of love from him. He will get the opportunity to really feel a different love from his child for his incredible emotions, his powerful hugs, his protected innocence, and his honest love. My friend will see life like a shining light directly from God. He will see, and experience, the gift of life as it was intended to be experienced, from the soul of his heart.

I can honestly say that I too see life from a different light. When I see that child and his loving smile, when I see him laugh with his powerful giggle. When his eyes light up with a pure sense of wonder, when his little hand fits into the palm of our own. When friends hold him and feel his incredible sense of care, when I watch them melt while he’s in their arms. Who would’ve thought that this little child, who is different than my own, would bring so much love into a life, a unique love greater than any other child could. This little bundle of joy has taught me so much about unconditional love.

So now I no longer judge others because of their difference, I first look at their beauty. I now watch for the opportunity instead of the circumstances. I look at the brightest way possible to overcome a once-thought-as-difficult situation. And with this philosophy, I now see a side of life that calls me to a different light. I now feel powerful smiles, warm hugs, and wonderful opportunity. And all of this, the joy, the love, the understanding, because of a simple little boy who now comes from Holland.