Disabled Children—Not a Statistic!

My friend Stacia wrote a blog the other day titled “Not Just A Statistic” that I wanted to share with my blog readers. She has a tremendous ability of sharing her thoughts in writing and really making me think! I’ve shared her blogs before (see here and here), and she has written an article on our website that is a must-read. Stacia also gave a presentation at our Answers for Women conference in April concerning the sovereignty of God and her son Kieran who has a genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome.

The God of the Bible is a God of order. He created the universe in an orderly fashion and endowed it with laws to follow (laws of life, laws of chemistry, laws of physics, laws of mathematics . . .) so that it all works together for His glory and our good. As His image-bearers, we reflect Him in our attempts to order and classify things. In the math problems we solve. In the probabilities and statistics that we put together.

One of the questions people often ask after hearing about Kieran’s diagnosis of Williams syndrome is, “What are the chances that your next baby will be born with WS?”

The standard answer is, “Because WS occurs from a spontaneous mutation on one of the gametes (i.e., neither Seth nor I are “carriers” of the disorder), we have the same chance of having another baby with WS as we did with Kieran—about 1 in 10,000.”

We like to toss numbers like this around—one in ten thousand babies are born with Williams syndrome, one in one hundred babies born to older women will be born with Down Syndrome. Or, to put it another way, Kieran is one of about 30,000 people in America living with WS today.

And yet, it can become easy to forget about the One who created so that 2+2 always equals 4 when we’re in the middle of figuring out the answer to questions like these.

I was reminded of this when I read this testimony of a pastor who found out his son would be born with spina bifida. (If you haven’t already, take the time to read his testimony or watch the video—you will be blessed. And you will need a tissue.) In his letter to his unborn son, Pastor Josh says, “You are not a statistic.”

The reality is that each child is created by God just the way He wants him or her to be. As the Lord reminded Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11)

And when Jesus answered His disciples’ question about the reason a man was born blind, He didn’t say, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; instead, he’s just that one in a thousand [or whatever the “statistics” are] who are born blind.” Instead, Jesus said the reason was “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9)

You are not a statistic. Kieran is not a statistic. Cael is not a statistic of “healthy” children. Seth’s sister Mimi, who was born with Down syndrome, is not the one in one hundred statistic. They are each the result of the handiwork of God, who created them to bring glory to Himself and for our good. To display His good works.

It seems to me that there’s a danger in relegating children with disabilities to being the result of a “statistic” in that we then go on to classify their lives according to statistics—there’s a high probability that he will have significant learning disabilities, that life will be difficult for her, that he will live in pain for his whole life. And we no longer see each baby born as an individual created by God with the potential to be full of His giftings.

And, I would think, the even greater danger with the “statistic mentality” is that it then becomes easier to take the lives of these “statistics” while they are still in the safest place possible for them—their mother’s womb. And we end up with even sadder statistics like this one: more than 90% of children with Down syndrome are killed before they are born. Because their parent didn’t want a statistic.

So how should I answer when people ask the question above? Maybe something more along the lines of this . . . “Kieran is not a statistic. He is a blessing to us from God who created him just the way He wanted him to be. If God chose to give us another child with Williams syndrome, we would receive him or her with thanksgiving, just as we would a healthy child.”

Thank you, Stacia, for giving us a window into your life and how God is using Kieran for His glory in helping us understand more about the character of God and how we relate to others. Stacia wrote a book for children entitled, Why is Keiko Sick? dealing with the issue of understanding death and suffering in the world as it relates to the authority and truthfulness of God’s Word. I highly recommend it!

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!