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Designer Babies, Christmas, and A Good and Perfect Gift

Philip Ney has an essay discussing A Good and Perfect Gift in the current issue of Comment Magazine: "Whoever Welcomes This Child." (It's an essay about two books, including Amy Laura Hall's Conceiving Parenthood, and the whole piece is worth reading, but just so you know the Good and Perfect Gift part comprises the second half.) Ney writes:

A Good and Perfect Gift is accessible, fun, and moving. It will be enjoyable to read whether or not you are a parent, whether or not you are a Christian, and whether or not you want to learn about Down syndrome . . .

Becker's writing is honest and vulnerable, and the lessons she learns and shares with the reader come in starts and stops. She learns to be proud of her daughter not for how closely she comes to doing the same things as children who do not have Down syndrome, but for being herself and offering her own unique gifts. This tension doesn't ever completely disappear and Becker never claims to hold a perfect love for her daughter. Perfect or not, it's watching the love grow between Penny—a child who excels at learning sign language and giving slobbery kisses—and her parents that makes reading this book so enjoyable.

He concludes his essay by connecting the ethical issues surrounding prenatal testing and disability with Christmas:

We celebrate Christmas because a child was born who was truly worthy. God came near us, taking a humble form. Right from the start in Bethlehem, he subjected himself to our stigmatization and rejection. He was the Hope of the world but neither his society nor ours hold much hope for children with origins that seem so inauspicious. We can't guess what genetic markers, whether considered desirable or undesirable, he would have displayed in prenatal tests. The unwed migrant who bore him in a manger might well have become a target for sterilization in a number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces in the past 60 years. Later, his association with swindlers, prostitutes, and rabble-rousers would have confirmed predictions that this child was more likely to be a drag on progress than a valued member of society . . .

How do we welcome him and thank him? Mark and Luke both record him saying, "Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me." Like Amy Julia Becker we may find that it is in receiving and welcoming a particular child—not necessarily the one we imagine and not necessarily our own—that we welcome God and his hand in our life.

Click here to read the full review.

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