- And as the details of Donnie’s brief life were indeed featured this week on the website of the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle, I also read about the yet shorter existence of American Christian baby ** Luke whose mother, Michelle has produced an illustrated book about him within barely nine months of his birth and death.
Donnie, born with the chromosomal disorder, Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18) lived for 142 days while Luke, who was diagnosed with Dandy Walker Malformation at his 12 week pre-natal ultrasound test, died within hours of his birth in December 2017.
Both families are religiously devout, but while Donnie was the youngest of a large brood of healthy children, Luke was the younger brother of an infant sister born with two congenital defects of her own.
Despite this and her professional expertise as a legal nurse consultant, because she is a strict pro-life Christian Michelle refused to contemplate an abortion.
She is scathing of the view – popular in Jewish tradition - that ‘everything happens for a reason’ and writes:
“I think our culture is very uncomfortable with grief and loss. Happiness has been put on a pedestal, and that’s what everyone should strive for at all times. When someone says, ‘everything happens for a reason’ in response to someone’s grief, what they’re really saying is, ‘cheer up, move on, stop grieving’. That’s not OK. What we should say in times of unimaginable sorrow is, ‘this is tragic, let me cry with you’”.
During the first months following Luke’s death, Michelle and her husband Clint, an oil rig technician, long debated the pros and cons of conceiving a third time and considered genetic testing because of their experiences with their previous children.
But their medical insurers refused to pay for a test so they have opted instead for US domestic adoption, which costs an average of $39,000. The Foresters have been fortunate to discover a long-forgotten investment worth $31,000 and have thus decided to seek to adopt a baby although presently $8,000 short of their goal.
Michelle says she empathises with mothers willing to give their children away for adoption simply because she knows how it feels to walk into a hospital with a baby - only to leave empty-handed.
** For the Love of Luke: Our commitment to life in the midst of certain loss is available from Amazon @ $3.99 (Kindle) and $10.99 (Paperback).
© Natalie Wood (13 September 2018)