Mother writes open letter after being advised to abort baby
As Veronika Semchenko of Krasnodar, Russia, was preparing to become a mother for the second time, she tried to stay strong and keep smiling. Only her family and close friends knew that for months she'd been living in fear: the fetus had received a rare diagnosis in the womb and the doctors at her clinic thought it would be better for her to abort.
But Veronika and her husband Evgeny were well-situated in life and decided they would take the risk. They would keep the baby.
When little Erofey was born, again the parents were advised to give the baby away. They were told that he would "ruin their lives." Even many friends and family members were surprised when Veronika and Evgeny brought the little guy home as if nothing unusual had happened.
One year later, Veronika wrote a post on this Russian social network and when you read it, you'll know why it went viral:
"Since our son was born, there have been so many interesting, wonderful moments in our life together. There were so many signs that he was supposed to be here and supposed to live. Our son — a long-awaited baby, a child we planned — was diagnosed with Down syndrome. People often ask whether we knew about it before the birth. Yes, we knew! We learned in the 21st week of pregnancy that it was likely that our child would have Down syndrome. The doctors, it must be said, were very unpleasant about it.
My husband and I decided: if our son wants to live, he'll live. And most of the doctors started then to pressure us. They wanted to change our minds. Basically we were told that I would give birth to a 'monster' and that we were crazy.
When people say 'special' there are two ways you can evaluate that. You can see it negatively: a child will be excluded, he won't be like the others and/or he'll be sick. But you can also see it positively: that the child has a special gift. This baby was given an exceptional vocation when he was sent to us.
He has something we don't have, a kind of inner strength. His hugs bear so much love and care in them. There's a whole universe in his smile. The expression in his eyes has a depth... He's different. And we're so proud that he's our son.
When he smiles at you, he radiates and joy and warmth! You can just bathe in this light! It's such a wonderful feeling. To bathe in warmth, love, and joy. And you'll feel it again and again. You'll want to go back to him, to hold and kiss him.
Some people we know were worried about a child with this diagnosis. But as soon as they met him, they changed their minds. I believe they themselves changed too. I've changed, just as our whole family has.
Erofey is like a magic book: every day that he opens his eyes, a new chapter opens for us in his wonderful life. He's filled our life with magic and miracles.
Today I can proudly say that as a mother I have the greatest son! I'm happy that he's our child. I'm glad that he's alive. I'm glad that he exists in the world. He's growing up well, he's developing splendidly, and lives a good life in our family! He's now one year old and can sit, crawl, walk with a little help — just like every other child his age. He knows his own name and understands us when we speak. He adores his older sister.
During the past year we haven't done anything that we didn't also do with our first child. We were 'warned' that a 'special' child would take up all our time, energy, and money. I would supposedly forget my husband and daughter. But believe me, none of that happened. Erofey gives us energy, he makes us happy. It feels like we could move mountains.
He did more than bind us closer together as a family. And I give my attention to each child, just as any mother of two would. Thanks to my wonderful husband I have enough time for myself as well, for all these fun photo shoots, for psychotherapy.
My dear son, thank you, that you chose our family and our life! Life is beautiful! And on it goes..."
This emotional letter of one loving mother has already been shared millions of times.
According to the research and advocacy group Downs Side Up, 85% of children with Down syndrome in Russia are given away by their parents. Veronika and Evgeny are a rare and wonderful example of the alternative. If only more parents — and it sounds like, more doctors — were better informed about this condition and all the potential children with Down syndrome actually have.
When the parents of such a child have a stable marriage and good jobs, there's no reason the Semchenkos' extraordinary experience couldn't belong to more of them too.
Under such circumstances, Erofey is sure to continue on his loving, happy path!