Making the wise, responsible, and loving choice
Feb. 12, 2013 - Adeline Raymond defied the odds. She was given a one-in-ten chance of surviving her birth, not by her doctors, but by statistics. If it were up to some of her doctors, Adeline wouldn't have made it. Her parents Andy and Ida said they were told by doctors to abort her.
Adeline's misfortune was being diagnosed in the womb with multiple birth defects. The statistics show a staggeringly high rate of abortions performed on children diagnosed with disabilities in the womb. One international study showed 92 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome and 64 percent diagnosed with spina bifida were aborted.
The pregnancy started out normally, and just before Christmas in 2010 Ida was scheduled for a routine scan at 10 weeks. Her obstetrician saw cause for concern during the scan, however, and she was quickly referred to a doctor in Ann Arbor for detailed tests.
"I went from no problems to being told to get to Ann Arbor now," Ida said. "It was coming at us so fast."
The couple left from the Lansing area and drove to Ann Arbor on an unplanned trip, having to take their one-year-old son Benjamin along with them. After a flurry of tests, Ida said they were pulled into a room by two doctors to hear some of the worst news parents could hear. One of the doctors told them that she was afraid for their baby, and that if the baby lived she would be "severely deformed."
"They told us it looked like her intestines were outside of her body, her spine had a hole in it, there were cysts around her brain and her brain was surrounded by fluid," Andy said. "They said her heart would not make it, her legs would never work and she might have Down syndrome."
Andy and Ida said the manner in which the doctors delivered the news left them terrified. Ida said she felt more like a number in line than a parent finding out her child might have several serious conditions.
Even worse than the bedside manner was the advice given to them. Ida said the doctor told them that it would be wise and responsible to abort their child now, and that waiting to kill Adeline would only delay the inevitable. They were told they could come back for another scan, but nothing was going to change, and the doctor could give them "termination options." Dazed from the encounter, they took up the doctor's offer to come back to meet with a genetic counselor.
"We couldn't believe it," Ida said. "We were bawling our eyes out."
Andy and Ida said they quickly canceled the appointment, and vowed never to set foot in that hospital again. Despite the advice, they knew the wise and responsible choice was to love Adeline and give her life, as much of it as they could.
They said their obstetrician was shocked by the treatment they received. At a later follow-up appointment in a hospital in Lansing, they heard a much different story. The new ultrasound didn't show Adeline's intestines outside her body, cysts around her brain or even deformed legs. The new scan showed a possibility that Adeline might have Down syndrome, but that she was an otherwise healthy baby. This time the staff was professional and informative. Despite offers for further testing to see if Adeline did have Down syndrome, they were told the risk for miscarriage wasn't significantly higher, so they turned them down.
"We kindly said 'thanks, but no thanks,'" Ida said.
The only other test they elected to have was an echocardiogram, just in case Adeline did have Down syndrome and any resulting heart issues. The test came back normal, and when the big day arrived, they said they weren't even thinking about the original diagnosis. Ida described Adeline's birth day simply as happiness. It turned out Adeline didn't have a single problem, scoring a 9 and a 10 on her Apgar tests.
Adeline is 17 months old now and your typical troublesome toddler. Ida said her daughter is obsessed with necklaces, cats and cookies. Despite being told Adeline's legs would be deformed, Ida said they are strong as can be, and Adeline even started crawling at five months.
"I just want people to know there is hope," Ida said. "Miracles happen every day."
The couple said they don't know why all of the horrible things that were predicted never came to pass. Andy guessed that the scan was done so early in the pregnancy that it was perhaps too early for the doctors in Ann Arbor to reach a definitive diagnosis. Ida wondered if after receiving so much prayer and support from their families and the community that it was divine intervention.
"Maybe God said 'I'll take care of it,'" Ida said.
Whatever the reason, Andy said the experience confirmed their prolife beliefs. They wrote a letter to their doctors in Ann Arbor with Adeline's story, hoping that the doctors take a life-affirming approach with other couples in the future. They said they hate to imagine how people without strong support or prolife convictions react when confronted with a troubling prenatal diagnosis. For Andy and Ida, it all came down to the love they had for their daughter.
"Even if everything wasn't fine, I can't imagine loving her any less," Andy said.
If you or someone you know has been given a troubling prenatal diagnosis, support is available. Please call 1-800-57WOMAN, a toll-free hotline, any time, day or night, to be connected to a caring help agency.