“Can’t love my baby”

“Can’t love my baby”

Kris at “Kris Thinks” used my recent blog entry titled “Rudeness and ‘breeders’” and a comment by Dan Jasmin as a jumping-off point for a story she saw on “Oprah” once about a woman who prayed for a child, but decided she couldn’t love her when she arrived. Dan’s comment had noted that all parents may get frazzled and wonder if we can cope with having more children, but the proper response is to recognize that the weakness and deficiency is in us, not in the children and not in God who sends them to us as a blessing.

Unfortunately, as Kris points out, not everyone sees it the same way:

She had 2 children but desperately wanted another child. She and her husband were having fertility troubles. It was heartbreaking. She wanted nothing more than to have another baby and it seemed she could not.

She prayed very hard for God to give her this. And God being a good and gracious God - she finally got pregnant!! Hooray! Nine months later she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Glory be to God. But, what’s this? A defect in this miracle of miracles? The baby girl had Downs Syndrome.

Try as she might the mother just “could not love her”. I remember these words exactly!!! She actually said that she realized “that I could not love her as she deserved to be loved” Ok so you get help with that right? You try to CORRECT YOUR defect right? This is “a deficiency in me” (as Dan Jasmin puts it so well) should be her response. But it is not.

This mother, decides that what is best for her daughter is to be given away. She puts her daughter up for adoption. She gives her miracle baby way to another woman “who can love her as she deserves to be loved”. This other woman has many children with disabilities in her home. Yet, she does not have a husband to help her. (at least not one that they showed on the show)

I am convinced that one of the reasons God gives us children is to teach us how to love as He loves: completely, in self-abandonment, with self-sacrifice. And who better to teach us that love than a Down syndrome child who can only love completely and purely? It sounds like this woman needed to learn this lesson and yet so self-involved was she that she couldn’t see the love that was possible and in God’s greatest blessing.

The worst part of the story? After she told Oprah what she had done, the audience actually applauded her. For her “courage”.

There was no defect in that child or any child to make her unlovable. Any such defect is in us and we need to change ourselves and become more like the Lord. Frankly, how unlovable must I be with my disgusting sins, yet “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” to die for us on the Cross and redeem us so that we might have eternal life. Do we want “Oprah”-style love or the real thing?

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  • I think the story shows the very problem with how our society defines love. 

    Love is not just a silly emotion.  You can’t turn feelings on or off – it doesn’t work that way.  And yet we are commanded to love (God, neighbors, enemies). Love is a choice not a feeling.  It is behavior not an experience.

    When the woman says she cannot love, I think she says I don’t “feel” love, so I refuse to choose to love.  Heck, it is always easy to love when we feel all warm and gooey.

  • Words cannot describe how even more perverted the “no child an unwelcome/unwanted child” mantra has become. Excuse me, people, the solution is to understand that welcome and want are not ruddered solely by emotion but also by intellectual will. Making a decision of will to want/welcome a child won’t *feel* the same to *you* as emotionally wanting/welcoming a child. But to the child, it may well mean a helluva lot more.

    One gets the sense that Oprah could have hammered the opposite point home with clips of the manipulative mother (a great performance by Gladys Cooper, made up to look much older than she was at the time) in “Now, Voyager” who resented her late-in-life child, Charlotte Vale, and because of which much misery ensued (except for Warner Bros.).

    Emotions are way overrated in popular American culture (but that also serves consumer capitalism, which thrives on reducting everyone to their emotions and appetites). Be aware of them, deal with them, but don’t choose to be controlled by them when there is time and capacity not to. Civilization consists in part of this.

    I don’t wish DS on any one or any family, as not all will have Hallmark Special endings, but I do say that the world is a much poorer place as DS children and adults become rarer and rarer due to extermination.

  • I didn’t see the show but it sounds like she deserves applause for choosing what is likely to prove to be best for the child.  It seems to me that the baby ended up in a better home with her adoptive mother who wants her, than with her natural mother, who doesn’t want her.  Is the natural mother flawed or defected or wrong for wanting only a healthy baby?  Well, it would be hard to see it any other way.  But I can’t help but think the child would be much worse off growing up with a mother who lacked the courage, intelligence, love, faith, resources and whatever else it takes, to handle life’s challenges.

    I predict a wonderful life for this baby and pray for the 2 left in the care of the natural mother.

  • Rick

    One problem is that such a mother should not be *celebrated* as a *model*, which is what happened on that show, it seems. That’s confusing the subjective to the objective. It may well turn out better in subjective terms for that child – but then again, it may well not. This is not a decision that can properly be celebrated as an objective matter, and it’s unclear whether in the next life it would be celebrated, as it were.

  • Maybe she didn’t really want a baby.  Maybe she wanted a photograph of a baby that she could dress up like a doll.  Too bad.  Very common.

    I pity the kid.

  • Stuff like this is why I Never, Never watch
    “Oprah Windbag”—and I can’t for the life of me see the attraction of this woman for an audience.  Of course, she has made a very successful life for herself, materially speaking, and I respect her for that, but otherwise—yes, she’s a windbag…

  • The children I feel sorry for are the ones still in her care.  How must it feel to lose a sister in this way?  It’s not like they didn’t know she exists!  Poor things, they must be worrying that if they aren’t “good enough”, they’ll be sent away, too.  And worrying about what “good enough” means…

    And add to that a horrible lesson in what compassion ought to be.

    Prayers for them are indeed in order.

  • “Frankly, how unlovable must I be with my disgusting sins, yet “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” to die for us on the Cross and redeem us so that we might have eternal life. Do we want “Oprah”-style love or the real thing?”

    Thank you, Dom, for this very profound comment.

    Yes, Patricia, Oprah is a windbag.  But our culture is dominated by just such windbags who offer the gullibly educated cheap outlets for cheap emotions.

  • God gives us children is to teach us

    I must dissent from this point in an otherwise good posting because God loves and respects each of us as a person and an end in and of his or herself—He does not and would not use a child as a teaching tool, as a means to “teach us.”  He has well and good reasons for entrusting His children to certain worldly parents, but to utilize those children so that the parents will learn anything is not one of those reasons.  If a parent realizes from the occasion that to love or not to love are choices, and so chooses to love, that is a good thing, but the child is not used by God as such a means to that end.

  • Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. God puts all kinds of people in our lives for a reason. My wife teaches me about complementary self-giving and fruitful love. She teaches me to look beyond myself. My daughter teaches me about fatherly love and total abandonment in trust to another. God puts people in my life who might annoy me to teach me patience and to see them as he sees them.

    That God has a plan for us and orchestrates who enters our lives and for what reasons does not diminish the person. That’s just silly.

  • If Christ sends forth his disciples (meaning us as well) to go and teach all nations, but earlier had instructed them to be as “little children,” then we have adults also assuming the teaching capacity of children.  One also has to remember the early adolescent Jesus in the Temple with the elders—who had the wisdom to be awed by the questions of this child.

    I never learned so much in my six-plus score years as I have as a parent from my children.  I not only learned what it really is to be a man and a father, but when the children were snall, I learned once again what it was to be a child.  Even now, these children now young adults still teach me.  And my kids have taught me also about the larger relationship to society and what obligations this entails.

    That does not negate God’s command that the father is the primary teacher of his children.  It simply allows that a parent is open to learning about raising children in the most common and successfully tested mode—by doing it, that is, by learning from his children, each and every day.

  • Bender, I have a five year old with Down Syndrome and have just published an article in “Faith and Family” magazine entitled, “A Special Mother is Born”. What the title implies is that my style of motherhood, which was already influenced by two daughters, was about to undergo a great transformation for good upon the birth of my special needs daughter. I did embrace this chance to love, and was therefore able to receive the tremendous amount of God’s grace that accompanied it. I believe that Jesus spoke to my heart about Christina while I was still pregnant, but before anyone knew she had Down Syndrome, and I heard, ‘I want you to accept this child (with Down Syndrome) as a gift from my Hand’.
    How spiritually impoverished is this married mother who rejects that opportunity of grace and gives her long awaited special child up for adoption. She has no idea what an opportunity for joy and spiritual growth she has just missed.
    How blessed is the mother who had adopted her!

  • My heart breaks for the 2 older children who will go thru life always worrying that if they become less than perfect mom might give them away also.  A broken leg or a bad report card can be terrifying for these kids.

  • My daughter’s birth mother gave her up because she could not cope with the cerebral palsy. She was a single mother who already had one child and she had no husband or “partner” to help her. I guess she could have tried to get help so that she could have accepted her child’s defect, but what if the birth mother hadn’t managed to overcome her psychological problems and her child had suffered abuse from her?

    Also, let’s look at this from God’s perspective. My daughter and I have discussed this a lot. Her greatest treasure is her Catholic Faith and she knows that God “knew her from all eternity” and wanted her to have this great gift of knowing Him and of spending eternity with Him in Heaven. She is grateful to her birth mother for giving her life and for giving her up for adoption when she was 2 years old. In return, my daughter prays for her birth family. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, through her prayers, her birth family received graces from God to open their hearts to Him?

  • Considering the graces my family has received from raising Christina, I wouldn’t be at all suprised. I also know that who adopts a child is very important in God’s plan. Yours is a very special calling, God bless you!

  • This is Kris – from the linked post…
    This Oprah show was one in which it was a “book club” discussion.  I believe they were discussing the book Jewel which is about a mother raising a D.S. child in the 60’s??
    The main point I was trying to make by posting the story was to show how little we take responsibility for our own failures and weaknesses and defects.  We blame a baby for not being “lovable enough” for us to love.  Shouldn’t we instead ask for help in softening our OWN heart?  Would it not have been more appropriate for this mother and for goodness sakes HER HUSBAND to stop and say “hey!  what’s wrong with US?”  We need to become better people, stronger people, more loving people just when we are tested like this.  We shouldn’t run from it.
    Secondly, I wanted to point out how the women in the group, Oprah herself, and the studio audience, all treated this woman as if she had done something HEROIC!  No one questioned this “choice” as motivated by selfishness.  In fact it was said to be a selfLESS act on her part. 
    Two main points always stick with me from this show.
    1. How could any husband/father allow his wife to give their child away?
    2.  What will the adoptive mother tell this little girl the reason is that she was given up?