Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why was I Not Born with Down's Syndrome?

Kyle (not his real name) is 50 years old.  We were born within a few days of each other. But Kyle did not have the same experiences I did in elementary school.  He didn’t attend any junior high dances.  And he never graduated from high school.  Nor has Kyle married or had children. In 1962, Kyle was born with Down’s syndrome.

Several years ago Kyle was the victim of a predator. He was forced to endure heinous sexual assaults. The perpetrator committing the crimes threatened Kyle and other individuals in similar life situations. As a law enforcement chaplain, I work with crime victims on a regular basis. A mentally challenged adult becoming a victim in such a manner is particularly atrocious.

Last week I attended a meeting where Kyle’s family and others who care about him were striving to speak as advocates on his behalf regarding issues pertinent to his medical care and overall well being.  The longer I listened the more unsettled I became.  Kyle is very social.  He makes friends easily.  He is well liked. But he can’t bathe himself without constant supervision.  His ability to communicate verbally is limited. He has his fair share of healthy problems. I kept asking myself: why? 

Why did Kyle end up being an easy target for a sexual predator? Why was he born with Down’s syndrome?  Why was I able to go to college, get married, have children, and enjoy my career? I got pretty worked up over the whole thing until a conclusion finally came…

I have given the opportunities that I have because my responsibility is to serve Kyle and others like him.  If we have been given much, it is so that we can take care of the most vulnerable among us. And in the process I have discovered that he teaches me more than I teach him….His influence in my life is far more drastic than mine is in his life. Sometimes individuals like Kyle are referred to as being “special.”  They are special indeed.  They make a difference in our lives that is desperately needed. Why me?  Why have I been given the opportunities I have been given? To serve others in love…

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