Having a child is one of the greatest joys in life. But sometimes, that joy can turn quickly into other emotions, such as fear, sorrow, mourning, depression, and anxiety to name a few. Why, you ask? Nothing can break an expecting couple’s heart more than a phone call from the doctor with news that they are concerned about the health of the unborn child. I know, because in August of 2010, my husband and I received that call. Six months later, a bouncing baby boy, Christian Taylor Buchanan, was born to us. He was diagnosed with blindness in both eyes, a Tessier cleft lip and palate, a clubbed foot, a hypospadias, and a cutis aplasia on his skull (if you don’t know what these are, just Google them).
We were devastated to say the least, but that is not why I am writing this article. It has been since Christian’s birth that I have come to realize how little most people know about disabilities, the lives of people who live with disabilities, or how to handle situations in which they come in contact with someone who is disabled.
It is also astounding to me the lack of compiled information on the topic for people who need to be educated on the subject. Even as Christian came home from the hospital and we were sorting out how to make sure he had all of his medical supplies, got the medical care he needed, and even just how to do the proper things to make sure he developed correctly, I found that all of the information I came upon happened by chance.
For these reasons, I asked the Cannon Courier if I could, and they so graciously allowed me, to write an article so that I can do my part to educate the public and to help those seeking out information on the subject to find what they need.
How did all of this come about, you might ask? It all began when I started taking Christian out to places in the normal course of our daily lives, such as the grocery store or a restaurant. It didn’t matter where we went really, we always received the same reaction. People would stare at Christian, whisper behind my back “Look at that baby,” and some even got the courage to ask me what was wrong with him. It got to the point where I would put a blanket over his carrier, and when people asked to see the baby, I simply refused. Then one day, I changed my mind. I was not going to hide the face of my child, the child that I thought was the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. Although I realized the severity of his facial deformities, I knew it wasn’t me who needed to change what I was doing, but others that needed to change the way they thought about people with disabilities.
And so, for Christian, and for every other person out there who has to live with a confinement that most of us will never know and wouldn’t have the strength to bear, I am fighting. I am fighting for the stares to turn into smiles. I am fighting for the whispers to turn into words of encouragement. I am fighting for the “What’s wrong with your kid?” questions to turn into respectful, caring questions. I am fighting so that those who live with a disability will feel like they belong in this society, not as outcasts who are looked down upon. I am fighting so that they may know that they are as important as anyone else, so that they may know that they are as valuable as someone who has perfect use of their legs, or eyes, or mind, because I believe with all my heart that these things are true.
So about that children’s story that I introduced at the beginning of this article, I never got around to telling you the point. I read this story to my son last night and it resonated with me. No matter what difficulties we have to face, and no matter what things my son will never be able to do, I would never, ever, ever want another child instead. Why? Because God gave us Christian.