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Husband Can’t Accept Our Daughter with Down Syndrome

Questioner

S

Reply Date

Nov 17, 2018

Question

Salam Aleikom dear counselor. My baby was born a few days ago. She has Down Syndrome. It was a shock for us as the doctors did not say anything prior to delivery that my baby has any problem. I cannot stop crying. My husband cannot accept the situation, and thinking of giving the child to foster parents. He says I need to choose: him or the baby. I dunno what to do as I love my husband and we had an amazing marriage so far. But I cannot accept the idea of giving my child in adoption. What kind of mother who does that?! I cannot live with this thought but cannot lose my husband either. What do you advice me?

Counselor

Answer


In this counseling answer:

“I would highly suggest that you ask your husband for more time before having to make such a decision. It could be that your husband is so shocked, surprised and upset that he is not thinking clearly at this point. I would speak with your doctor about your husband’s reaction and ask him if it is a normal response. He may be able to give you some professional tips and advice’s on how to help your husband accept this new baby as well as give you more insight on down’s syndrome children and to the degree your child is affected. If he is not a warm type of individual or does not have time, ask a nurse to see a social worker at the hospital.


As salamu alaykum sister,

I am sorry to hear that your child has Down’s Syndrome and even more sad to learn your husband cannot accept this and that he has given you the ultimatum of him or your child.

Sister, as your baby is only a few days old, there are a lot of emotions flying high right now and a lot of concerns, questions and uncertainty right now concerning your baby and the future of this child and how well you both would be equipped to handle a special needs child.

Concerning your husband’s ultimatum, I would highly suggest that you ask your husband for more time before having to make such a decision. It could be that your husband is so shocked, surprised and upset that he is not thinking clearly at this point.

I would speak with your doctor about your husband’s reaction and ask him if it is a normal response. He may be able to give you some professional tips and advice’s on how to help your husband accept this new baby as well as give you more insight on down’s syndrome children and to the degree your child is affected. If he is not a warm type of individual or does not have time, ask a nurse to see a social worker at the hospital. Also I would kindly suggest insha’Allah you request to speak with your imam who may offer practical tips in the way of Islamic rulings as giving up your child is a serious issue.

Allah SWT tries us with what He will. In the Qur’an it states

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Quran 2:286 ).

As you can see sister, we are all tried in this life. We are tried with many things. If Allah puts us through a trial and we have iman, insha’Allah, Allah will grant blessings and ease as we deal with our trials. In many instances our trials do turn out to be blessings or lessons which bring us closer to Allah. It is up to us to do our best with what we are given. To not give up, give in or take an easier road.

You may want to ask your husband why he wants to give up his child. Is it to make his life easier? Is it to avoid shame and embarrassment? If not-what is it then? Often times what we view as an undesirable thing, turns out to be very good indeed for us.


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We also have a responsibility to the precious children that we have brought into this world. And as you know, adoption is not permitted in Islam. These are some of the things insha’Allah you and your husband need to discuss once some time has passed and the shock of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome has settled some. Right now is not a good time to make decisions nor press on these issues. It is a tim, however, for you both to become more educated about down’s syndrome, the degree to which your daughter is affected as well as resources available to you as parents.

It would also be a time to speak with other families who have children with down’s syndrome to see how they feel and how they have managed. When you both have become sufficiently aware and educated on what a down’s syndrome child entails, then you both can make a more informed decision. As your baby was just born, it is not fair to anyone , including and especially her-to make the decision to give her away.

I understand your and your husband’s shock, fear and hurt, but I also understand that with time things can get better. I do encourage you sister to bond with your baby. Hold her, snuggle with her. She needs you! And she needs her dad. If possible I would also try to encourage your husband to hold her, to try to bond with her. Don’t push it, just offer her to him when you are holding her.

If your husband see’s you holding her, smiling and snuggling with her, this may calm his fears and warm his heart. Insha’Allah sister, you will be able to do this quickly as your baby is a few days old and the world may feel cold and scary to her if you are not there holding her and comforting her. She may already feel rejected and insha’Alah you want to prevent her from feeling this way.

With that said, I will say that down’s syndrome children have been some of the most happiest, easy to raise children I have seen. They are a joy, and certainly a gift from Allah. While they do have some extra needs yes, they also provide added joy and happiness to families. While they may not accomplish exactly what their parents may have in mind, they can be very successful and lead quite normal lives.

I encourage you to read about sister Hiba al-Shurafa, who is a 26 teacher with down’s syndrome. Not only has she completed her training to be a teacher through the Right to Live Society, but she has also teaches students who have down syndrome. She teaches classes in Arabic, Science, English, Social Studies and Religion. She is quite an inspiration to all and illustrative that people with down’s syndrome can and do lead full, productive lives. Sister Hiba does credit her parent’s however for their care, support and encouragement.

The Electronic Intifada states:

“Nuha Abu Shaban, Hiba’s mother, told The Electronic Intifada that when Hiba was just six weeks old, she took her to the Emirate of al-Sharjah, and what is now the Sharjah City for Human Services. There, Abu Shaban took awareness sessions, learning how to deal with a child who had Down syndrome and what to look out for in raising a person with the condition. And the family went further still. “We contacted friends from Britain to send us books, magazines and manuals from the Down Syndrome Association,” said Abu Shaban. “Her father translated these for me to study and learn how to best address Hiba’s needs.”

As you can see sister, even in a place as oppressed as Gaza (due to the occupation) children born with downs syndrome are being cared for. Families are finding the help that they need and slowly dismantling the stigma that sadly often comes with having a child with different abilities. While I am not sure where you live or what your resources would be if you kept your baby, I would highly suggest reaching out to other parents of children with down’s syndrome, looking into organizations which can provide support groups, training and other needed skills for raising a happy, healthy child. Please do encourage your husband to give it time and reach out to your families for support, your friends as well as community resources.

You asked what to do as you cannot chose between your daughter and husband. My dear sister, that is only a decision you can make. Pray to Allah about it. Insha’Allah you will not have to make the decision between your husband and your baby once some time has passed. I feel the two of you insha’Allah will make wonderful parent’s. Pray to Allah, make duaa that Allah grants ease and guides you both in the right direction. Pray on this matter with your husband. Ask your husband if you both can go to the Qur’an for answers regarding your daughter, for surely it is the foundation of life.

We wish you the best sister, you are all in our prayers.

Salam

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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