On Tuesday, Dec. 8, A&E premieres the docu-series “Born this Way,” six one-hour episodes that profile seven young adults in Southern California, born with Down syndrome, along with their families and friends.
People with Down syndrome — born with a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21 — vary widely in their relative capabilities and disabilities.
Nevertheless, many women choose to abort after discovering their child has Down syndrome. While the exact percentage of abortions after a prenatal diagnosis of Down is difficult to obtain (estimates vary, but in a study published in 2012, the number came out to 67 percent), research indicates that abortion has reduced the overall U.S. population with Down syndrome by about 30 percent.
The young adults featured in “Born This Way” are obviously not among the most severely affected, and they are vibrant individuals with much to contribute.
They include (from the press release):
• Rachel – Working in the mailroom for an insurance company, she will be the maid of honor at her brother’s upcoming wedding. Rachel would love to get married herself, but first she has to find the right guy.
• Sean – An excellent golfer and avid sportsman, Sean is a self-professed ladies’ man, who is not shy about introducing himself to every eligible woman he meets.
• John – From a very young age, John made it clear to his parents that he craved the spotlight. A born entertainer, John is committed to his music and is pursuing a career in rap.
• Steven – Working as a dishwasher at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and in customer service at a local grocery store, Steven is a huge movie buff and knows the title and year of each Oscar winning film.
• Cristina – This loving and compassionate young adult works in a middle school. In her free time she loves talking on the phone with Angel, her boyfriend of 4 years and the man she plans to marry.
• Megan – A budding entrepreneur, Megan has created a line of clothing she sells under the brand “Megology.” She is pursuing her dream of becoming a film producer and is a proud advocate committed to spreading the word that society should not limit adults with disabilities.
• Elena – With a flair for the dramatic, this young woman embraces life. Elena loves to cook, dance and write poetry and takes a great pride in her independence.
One person who knows firsthand about raising a child with Down syndrome is former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. The world met her son, Trig, at 16 weeks old, when Sen. John McCain introduced Palin as his vice-presidential running mate for the 2008 presidential campaign.
Contacted by PJ Media while on a tour for her latest book, “Sweet Freedom: A Devotional,” Palin was eager to respond to a request for a comment on “Born This Way.” Read what Palin had to say on the next page.
Palin wrote in an email to PJ Media this week:
I love this so much! My kids sent me clips of this upcoming show while I’m here on the road for my book tour. It brought tears to my eyes, in a good way! The kids were so happy to see this, too. They had shown Trig the show’s clips, trying to discern if his reaction reflected any recognition of his beautiful brothers and sisters beautifully showcased on his iPad screen. (Trig isn’t very verbal, but signed to his siblings that he was very irritated they’d interrupted his Nat Geo baby animals documentary at the time, and demanded they just turn it back on. So, yeah… that.)
Pop culture now gets another powerful look at how valuable every innocent life is. I’m so glad to see the celebration and tolerance of beautiful people who may look “different” than what societal standards want to tell us is perfect or even acceptable.
When I discovered very early on in my pregnancy that my son Trig had an extra chromosome, that he was a child with Down syndrome, it rocked my world. I was scared of the unknown. But, as I write in my devotional, Sweet Freedom, with this situation and with all the fears and trials life may hit us with, I knew I could I desperately call out to God for Truth in the situation. God tells us in the Psalms that He knits us together in the womb, and that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ God say, “I’ve got this!”
The minute Trig was born, God answered my prayers with changed eyes to be able to see my son as a gorgeous perfect gift for the Palins. And He exchanged my fear with a heart full of a curious, excited anticipation for what all Trig would be teaching us.
I’m so happy to have him; so blessed to be gifted a really cool, unique, fun, challenging, loving, sometimes exhausting, very special little guy who’s changed our lives for the better! God values the sanctity of every innocent life, no matter how small, no matter how many chromosomes.
A show like this will strive to influence pop culture so more people may embrace all of God’s creation. If we support these efforts, the show’s message and meaning will resonate and succeed in helping make the world a better place.
And not to rub it in, but viewers are going to see that those of us who have loved ones with special needs like Down syndrome will see why I say, “We won! For, my kid has more chromosomes than your kid!”
In a recent interview with CBN, Palin discusses several subjects, including her recent split from Fox News, a cancer scare (“something like” melanoma) and radical Islam. And, at the 4:37 mark, she begins discussing Trig, his relationship with sister and “Trig whisperer” Piper, and gets choked up discussing how close Trig is with his close-in-age nephew, Tripp, son of Palin’s daughter Bristol.
Fighting tears, she says, “Bristol and I look at each other, and we’re like, ‘What would our boys do without each other?'”
Click here to read and see the whole thing.