When no natural cause is found, the search turns inward.

Surprisingly many people seem to believe there is nothing accidental about the birth of a physically or mentally handicapped child. Some see this misfortune as a God-sent punishment for a secret sin that the parents have stubbornly refused to confess. I have heard it too frequently to be amazed any longer when parents tell me their friend or neighbor has urged them to “repent, so God can forgive you and heal your child.” Other people, by contrast, may attempt to comfort hurting parents by stating, “God only sends exceptional children to exceptional parents.” Or, if compassionate words escape them, they may elect to send a “poem” such as the following, of which my wife and I received several copies after the diagnosis 14 years ago of retardation in our son. Far from comforting, however, it only added to our sense of hurt and bewilderment because many more questions were raised than answered by it.

A meeting was held quite far from earth.

“It’s time again for another birth,”

The angels said to the Lord above.

“This dear little child will need much love;

His progress on earth may be quite slow;

Accomplishments great he may not show,

And he will require some extra care

From the folks he meets on earth down there.

He may never run or laugh or play;

His thoughts may seem odd and far away.

In various ways he won’t adapt,

And he will be known as handicapped.

Please, Lord, find some parents for this child

Who’ll do this work as unto You.

They’ll not understand it right away,

The difficult role You have them play;

But with this dear child sent from above

Comes strength and new faith and richer love.

And soon they’ll know the privilege given

To care for this gift that’s straight from heaven.

This ...

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