The Jury Talks Back

2/8/2018

Baby With Down Syndrome Honored As “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 7:40 am

[guest post by Dana]

Last year I wrote a post about Iceland’s heartbreaking efforts to successfully abort all babies identified as having Down syndrome. It is now a country that when three babies are born with Down syndrome in one year, it is considered “quite more than usual,” and counselors easily rationalize the disappearance of these children from the landscape of their society, saying:

“We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder — that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”

Yesterday, a happy announcement was made about the celebration of a little fellow with Down syndrome here in the U.S. It was an announcement that would not be made in Iceland. Much to their shame:

Lucas Warren, the first child with Down syndrome to receive the honor of, essentially, America’s cutest baby. The 1-year-old from Dalton, Ga., was selected as “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby” from more than 140,000 photos submitted by parents.

His mother, Cortney Warren, entered Lucas in the contest when a relative mentioned that Gerber put out its annual call for adorable babies, she told “Today.” Warren posted a photo of Lucas sporting a polka dot bow tie and an open-mouthed grin on Instagram and tagged Gerber.

It was Lucas’s smile that won him the iconic contest, said Bill Partyka, chief executive and president of Gerber.

“Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s long-standing heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” Partyka said. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”

Parents of children with Down syndrome were elated by the selection of Lucas:

“In a puddle of tears over here…my mama heart is so so thankful…when Bodie was born I believed a lie, that others would not value him as much as I do. But, today is a new day. It is such a beautiful, good day,” wrote samanthajob on Instagram.

Instagram user nicki_bloms wrote: “As a mama currently carrying a cutie with an extra chromosome this made my day!!! Thank you Gerber!! ”

What a wonderful moment this is for a special group of parents and their little ones who have been specifically targeted for death in other parts of the world. What a wonderful moment for life! Because, right here, and right now any number of babies with Down syndrome are still welcomed into the open arms of their loving parents.

In my post about Iceland, I shared the story of a serendipitous encounter I had with a young man with Down syndrome:

A long while back, I was strolling through a Disney Store during my lunch hour, and a young man turned and hugged me. Out of the blue. This perfect stranger with a big smile on his face then told me he loved me. I was so startled that I just stood there confused. In a moment, an older couple rushed over and gently pulled the young man away. They apologized to me for their son’s burst of affection, and explained that their son was an “exceptional hugger”. Why, yes, I could see that! He loved everyone. Including lucky me. I had a pleasant conversation with the couple, and then said good-bye. I felt happy. It certainly wasn’t one of those Big Deal moments in life, but rather a small quiet one. It was the kind of moment that sneaks up on you, and you know something pure and sweet just shot through the universe, momentarily cutting through the misery, and you happen to be in the right place at the right time to catch that shot of love and tuck it away in your heart.

Every now and then, I pull out that memory just to recall the radiating happiness of that young man. I can still “feel” it. With the news of little Lucas Warren being honored by Gerber, I have the same sort of happiness flooding my heart because as McNeil Cronin, father of a daughter with Down syndrome said:

“Gerber made a loud statement, a powerful statement. It walks the walk of acceptance and inclusion in a really big and meaningful way.”

Hear, hear!

–Dana

1 Comment »

  1. The Gerber announcement filled me with joy. It’s such a small thing, but it honors the value of life.

    Also, that kid is cute as can be.

    Comment by Vivian Louise — 2/9/2018 @ 8:55 am

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