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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 05/09/2012

Despite genetic tests and new technology, learning to embrace the unexpected

Recently I received two very different pitches. Together, they reminded me of something about parenting — that front-end preparation goes a long way in easing challenges, though we can never really be fully prepared for what our kids present us.
23andMe kit (Rubenstein Communications, Inc.)

One note came from a company that has created a new personally-administered genetic test intended for women planning to get pregnant. Called 23andMe, it’s an at-home kit that tests the likelihood of passing on certain genetic disorders.

Physicians use this kind of testing in a limited way, usually when there’s reason to suspect an issue.

23andMe is part of a tidal wave of biotechnology allowing us to learn more about our health prospects and the prospects of our children. Though some of the technology raises ethical questions, most of the advancements are just that — advancements.

“Knowing this information before you are pregnant, we believe, will make you better prepared when you are pregnant,” 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki wrote.


(Harper Collins)
If there is a drawback to this knowledge, it may be that it can give us a sense we control more than we actually can.

Case in point was the second note I received about a new book called “Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected.”

The book by Kelle Hampton is a memoir and will be released this month by William Morrow.

During her pregnancy, Hampton underwent prenatal tests, which showed no signs for concern. So she was wholly unprepared when she saw her baby for the first time.

“I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down syndrome and nobody else knew it. I held her and cried. Cried and panned the room to meet eyes with anyone who would tell me she didn’t have it. I held her and looked at her like she wasn’t my baby and tried to take it in. All I can remember of these moments is her face. I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over … she locked eyes with mine and stared … bore holes into my soul.
Love me. Love me. I’m not what you expected, but oh, please love me.”

--From “Bloom” by Kelle Hampton

After I read that passage a few times, my eyes too wet to read it straight through once, I e-mailed Hampton through her publicist. I asked her what she hoped readers would take away from her book.

“Letting go of the expected isn’t a bad thing,” she wrote back.

“In doing so, we come closer to the realization that the greatest rewards in parenthood are felt when we accept our children just as they are…The bonus is that these lessons extend beyond parenthood.

“I’ve found in the last two years, through learning to let go of the expected and truly appreciate both of my children’s unique beauty and character, I am more embracing of others’ differences. I am more tolerant of challenges or times when events in my life don’t go as planned. And I am more appreciative of the things I value most — health, nature and time with family.”

What has surprised you most about your child? How has it affected your outlook?

Related Content:

Rick Santorum on prenatal tests: Can the future of pregnancy health care be stopped?

Understanding a Down syndrome diagnosis

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 05/09/2012

Tags:  Books, Special Needs

 
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