Guest / Limited Access /
My Perfect Child
Penny Becker / Brad Guice

Our daughter was born at 5:22 P.M. on a Friday afternoon. For two hours, we reveled in the sweetness of new life—her pouty lips and soft skin, her deep blue eyes, her full head of black hair. Then a nurse called my husband out of the room. When Peter returned, it took me a moment to see that his eyes were brimming. "The doctors think Penny has Down syndrome," he told me. And the world began to break into pieces.

A few hours later, a woman was giving birth in the adjoining room. "She's perfect! She's perfect!" they exclaimed, as another baby girl was born.

In those early hours, I came face to face with my unspoken assumptions about my child. I had thought Penny would be just like me—a little girl who walked early and taught herself to read, who won academic awards in high school and got in early at Princeton. Peter, who was a high-school teacher and a varsity athlete, had shared many of those assumptions, expecting to see his competitive spirit in his new daughter.

Despite our Christian faith, we had sub-Christian expectations about our children's appearance, education, and abilities. I would never have stated it so bluntly, but in truth I wanted and even thought I deserved a "perfect" child. God gave me a child with an extra fold of skin around her eyes and floppy limbs and intellectual limitations. I didn't know what to do.

Doctors consider Down syndrome a birth defect. Other words to describe it include abnormality and disability. According to the doctors, Penny would have trouble learning. She would probably need glasses and possibly hearing aids. She would never be even five feet tall. She would have trouble communicating. I quickly learned that many ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssuePentecostal Renewal Transforms Rwanda after Genocide
Subscriber Access Only Pentecostal Renewal Transforms Rwanda after Genocide
Survivors flock to charismatic churches as a haven for healing.
RecommendedThe Very Worst Trend Ever
Subscriber Access Only The Very Worst Trend Ever
How our love of brokenness actually fails us.
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickWhy the Whole Church Needs Psalm 137, Violent Imagery and All
Why the Whole Church Needs Psalm 137, Violent Imagery and All
A protest song for Syrian refugees and suburban soccer moms.
Christianity Today
My Perfect Child
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.