The following was
written by a close family friend, John Ives.
John here explains how he and his wife Maria felt on learning the news of
Samuel being diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.
of the most upsetting things in life is when we have children and they are
not what is generally known as 'perfect', not that any of us are. We are all
imperfect in one way or another but most of us are fortunate that our little
'imperfections' cannot be easily seen.
As we move through life we soon realise that it's not all simple and
straightforward. In today's throw away world it's not hard to discard
something that doesn't meet our expectations and sadly with some people that
also applies to their own children. Neither is it hard for some people to
walk away and 'forget friends' when their life isn't how we think it should
be. When I first heard that when Sammy would be born he would have Down's it
brought on a lot of tears. The term "it's not fair" ring any bell's? If I
was feeling that upset, how upset did Steve and Angie feel?
The NHS has performed well above expectations where Sammy and his mum and
dad are concerned and that's fantastic. But equally important is the support
from friends and family. I am so lucky to have a wonderful wife myself (and
a wonderful son) and one who thought the same as me. When Steve and Angie
knew their unborn son would not be 'perfect' it was a no brainer for us,
whatever they decided to do we would support 100%, no questions, no trying
to talk them into a change of mind and no becoming distant if we didn't
agree with their decision.
Sometimes, no matter how difficult the situation, or how embarrassed we
might feel sometimes because we don't know what to say you have to bite the
bullet. It was awkward at first, terrified of saying something that didn't
sound right or was misunderstood. It did cross my mind a few times that what
Steve and Angie were taking on was a monumental task, but one look at my son
and I understood exactly why they made the decision they did. They are not
our children when they are born, it starts long before then. It starts a
relationship that will last till our dying day and gives us a responsibility
regardless of imperfections or difficulties and gives us a true purpose in
Now I come back to 'friends' of the family. Friends of the family are as
important as the Doctors and Nurses. Anyone who might read this and is a
friend of someone who is either expecting an 'imperfect' child or already
has one remember this: no matter how awkward you feel, no matter if you
really do not know what to say and no matter if you will become upset and
shed a few tears, never ever ever walk away! Life is what we make it and
would be a very sad and lonely place without friends. And although sometimes
we know it will be hard work and it will be upsetting, the rewards can be
I remember the first
time Steve and I took Sammy out
in the pram. We sat chatting with
Sammy looking at us and then it happened for the first time, the most
wonderful smile appeared on Sammy's face. A million things could be read
into that smile and a million reasons saying that Steve and Angie did the
Sammy is no longer 'a baby', he's a person in his own right. As unique and
individual as the rest of us. I'm not looking at this through rose coloured
glasses, I am sure there will be hard times, maybe upsetting times along the
way , but Sammy has touched my heart and he will also be a friend for life.
He will always be as welcome in our home just the same as our own son.
Never be afraid of not saying the right thing or being so worried of
upsetting someone that you drift away.
We all have far too much to lose if we give up too easily and take the easy
route in life.
Remember, a real friend is for life - not just the easy times.