Hello world, my name is Sara, I am an Orthodox Jewish woman, I live in London with my husband, we have thank G-d 15 children, I am writing this blog as a final resort, since I have nowhere else to turn, and I desperately feel that the world, and especially the UK, need to know the truth about Social Services.
Until April 2008, I was just an ordinary person, like anyone else my knowledge of Social Services was rather vague, I never gave them much thought, they were people who helped out `others` those with difficult children, or irresponsible parents, etc.
My entire world shifted in April, I was pregnant with my 15th child, [I know there are plenty of you out there, who will judge, and call me irresponsible or selfish, etc , but this story is not really about that, although I will add here, that as a Jewish woman, I know that G-d created the world, and the first commandment in the Bible was to be fruitful, and multiply, as such, we believe that as long as we are both healthy and are able to feed and clothes our children adequately, it is G-d who give us these precious diamonds, and it is the same G-d that provides for them, in short, how do we as simple humans make a decision about something so enormous, when we should leave it up to G-d who has infinite wisdom?]
I was having a scan at my local hospital, when the technician, paused, and said there was something not right with the heart…. these words strike terror into any mother, but in my case, I was in my early 40s, and I just knew, I asked her if this was an indication of downs syndrome, she replied that she didn’t know yet, but would refer me to have a more detailed scan with a consultant.
I should say something a little bit about myself here, I have always thought of myself as really maternal, every pregnancy made me feel extremely protective over my child, when they were born, I was overwhelmed with adoration for my babies, I loved just breathing them in, I once explained to one of my sisters, that when I was pregnant with my first child, people would tell me how much love I would feel for my baby when it was born.
However, when my first was born, it wasnt love, [certainly not as I knew it] that I felt, I felt more like an angry lion, the thought of anyone trying to harm her, made me want to leap out of my bed and rip out their eyes, and crush them with my fists, like a roaring furious type of love, [ I think I may generally have vicious personality, ask my siblings]
Yet, as soon as I heard these words from the technician, I just knew that this child had downs syndrome, and my heart turned to stone, I knew then and there, as plain as could be, that I would not be keeping her.
Many years earlier, when I had small children, one of my friends and I were discussing what we would do if we had a child with disabilities, both of us had a sibling with severe mental health disabilities, and we both vehemently declared that we would not keep a child like that, physical disabilities, now that was a different thing altogether, but this kind of thing was just to hard.
I am not in any shape or form wanting to influence anyone in this situation, but we both saw what our parents endured, and what we, the siblings endured, it is an unrelenting endless slog through life , day after day, its is a physically and emotionly draining, that you as a parent know, will never end, don’t get me wrong, I am endlessly grateful to my parents, and also to my handicapped brother, he has taught us life lessons that we would never have learnt without him, all of my siblings, and even my children, my nephews and nieces etc have a truly heartfelt affinity for people with mental health issues.
One of my sons works with men with special needs, and 3 of my daughters have , or are still working with children with special needs, there is an intrinsic understanding of families living in these situations, that I do not believe one can understand without living through it, besides, this, I cannot say it was all difficult, and embarrassing, there were times, that we laughed like drains over some of the things he did or said, and ofcourse we all loved him to bits, still do.
But anyhow, I’m just rambling here, back to my story.
How does a person react when they are giving such devastating news? I don’t know about other people, but my first reaction, when I was told, and asked to wait to make another appointment, was to worry about my car, I only had one hours parking!
I returned home, and told my husband outright, if this child has downs, I had no intention of keeping it, he was dumbfounded, and although he didn’t agree with me he said he would support my decision, we both always thought that if this kind of situation ever cropped up, our reactions would have been the complete opposite, he would have wanted to give the baby up, and I would have wanted to keep it.
At my next appointment, which I dragged my husband to, I told him, that I had passed a room at the hospital that said `counselling room` on the door, inside I glimpsed a box of tissues on a coffee table, I said, they are going to give me a more detailed scan, then they will tell me ever so tactfully that the baby has downs syndrome, then they will make me go into the `counselling room, and offer me the tissues, if you do not come with me, I will not go into that room I growled at him.
So off we both went, now if anyone reading this is in the position of having to break this kind of news to someone, please PLEASE do not say things like `these children are normally so happy, and cheerful and playful` sometimes I am just too polite for my own good, but what I did want to say to the stupid woman, [chief midwife?] was, `hmmmmm how nice, why don’t we get a puppy?`
Well as soon as it was more or less confirmed, 80%, but I think they were just trying to be nice, I came home and called Norwood, for those of you who have never heard of them, they are a well established Jewish fostering and Adoption agency in the UK, they are known by almost every Jewish person for this, not only in the UK, but also around the world.
The woman there told me to contact Social Services, which I immediately did, by then I was already 4 months pregnant, I was under the impression, that once I had called them they would sort it out, I was telling myself by this point, ok, breath,,, it’s just like going into hospital to have your appendix out , I had decided that I did not want to see the baby at all, that way I thought, it would be easier if I had no memory of her, I was blissfully unaware, that I was about to plunge into the worst nightmare of my life.