Wendy Puckrin admits that she may have been persuaded to abort her unborn son if she had known he had Down syndrome before he was born.
“On the day my little man was born, I was informed he had Down’s syndrome. I was not only surprised, I was shocked, scared – in fact basically terrified,” Puckrin told the Harrogate Advertiser.
“Had I found out while I was pregnant, there is a very good chance he would not be here today. It pains me to say that, but the negativity in the media, my own preconceptions and the way that a diagnosis can be handled by medical professionals would have left me feeling like I had little choice.”
Now, the British mother is on a mission to show people that her son, Elijah, 2, and others like him with Down syndrome are valuable human beings.
Puckrin said many people don’t question the negative connotations about the genetic condition in today’s culture and assume parents will have an abortion. She said some wrongly believe people with Down syndrome can’t lead normal lives.
“The phrase I hear most of all from parents with Down’s Syndrome is ‘if I knew then what I know now there would be no tears, no worries and no fears,’” she said.
The report continues:
Wendy is particularly keen to dispel the myth that people with Down’s Syndrome won’t amount to anything.
She said: “That is simply not true. There are many who have gone on to become councillors, models, actors, business owners etc.
“With the right environment and the right encouragement, any child can accomplish their dreams.”
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Next month Elijah will start nursery at Coppice Valley, where Wendy says he will be treated like any other child.
With support from staff, including his special educational needs co-ordinator, he will be encouraged to use sign language designed for young children to help them communicate.
“Elijah already knows some signs, including cat, dog, milk, biscuit, food and bottle,” said Wendy.
“He’s doing really well developmentally and his childminder has scrapped the developmental chart for children with Down’s.
“The only thing he is behind with is walking, but he’s getting there, and his speech, although he can say the odd word like mummy and I’m not terribly concerned.”
Elijah also has a hectic social life and enjoys riding at Follifoot Park Disabled Riders Group and swimming.
A single mom, Puckrin is actively involved with the Down Syndrome Association. She set up a Facebook page, This is Elijah, to encourage other parents of babies with Down syndrome, and she also talks to student midwives at Leeds University about the condition, the report states. When ever she can, the proud mother shares the special moments and memories that she and her son have together – like wrapping presents for Christmas.
“My son is determined, intelligent, curious and downright beautiful,” she said. “He is my teacher, my inspiration and my guiding star. He is as perfect as I could have hoped for.”
Though Puckrin described herself as pro-choice, she expressed concern about the extremely high number of babies like her son who are aborted. Studies found that about 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. She said these discriminatory abortions could rise even more now that a new non-invasive pregnancy screening test is available. Puckrin said she wants to make sure parents are fully informed about Down syndrome before they make a decision about aborting their unborn child.
“If you had told me three years ago I would single-handedly be raising a child with special needs I would have probably laughed. He’s not what I expected but he’s more than I deserve.”