Special Needs Mom Response: Couple Sues for “Wrongful Birth” #downsyndrome

by Carrie McLaren with 34 comments

Last night, I ran across a story that made me so upset, I could hardly even make it past the second paragraph.  The headline at Babble.com read…  Couple Receives $2.9 Million For Wrongful Birth; Say They Would Have Aborted Baby Had They Known.

A couple in Oregon sued their local health system for “wrongful birth” after they were told that their unborn child was free of any genetic diseases…only to be born months later with Down syndrome.

According to The Oregonian – the couple’s attorney states they filed a lawsuit with the concern of being able to provide for the child during their lifetime. They felt there were flaws in the genetic tests and bloodwork done prior to their child’s birth.

In June 2010, my daughter Molly was born with Down syndrome.  There were no warning signs, no family history and my routine bloodwork came back normal – so there was no need for additional testing.  I was completely blindsided with the diagnosis. Does that mean I should be (or even want to be) awarded $2.9 million dollars?!  Absolutely not.  Nothing in life is guaranteed.  Not even a blood test.

Toddler with Down syndrome

I’ll never forget the moment when the hospital pediatrician on-call that day told me of Molly’s diagnosis.  I was in denial, scared and confused…  how did this happen?  Why didn’t we know ahead of time?  Is she okay? It’s like the next few days moved in slow motion – I remember every single moment of it.  But not once, did the idea even cross my mind to sue someone.

Sure, in the beginning there were times when I worried about how we were going to pay for her care.  Whether it was a matter of changing our spending habits or dipping into our savings – I wanted the best for Molly.  I would go into debt for a lifetime to make sure Molly had the proper care.

Molly - 20mos old with Down syndrome

What concerns me the most about this whole situation is the overall impact it has on the child. What is going to happen when this child grows up to find out that if given the choice, their parents didn’t want them?

If they felt the child was a financial burden… why not place the child up for adoption?   There are waiting lists of people wanting to adopt children with Down syndrome.  There are even adoption agencies that specialize in placing children with special needs in homes – check out Reece’s Rainbow.

I would hope that if the couple feels this lawsuit was an attempt to provide for their child, that they would in turn help their local special needs community too.  Why not donate money to their local Down syndrome chapter?  Or perhaps make an effort to financially support the center providing the child’s therapies…and not just by paying the doctor bills each month.

Or an even more admirable idea…. donate it to researching the causes and prevention of Down syndrome.  If they feel so strongly that the “system” failed them, wouldn’t it be great to see them provide dollars to make sure other families aren’t put in this same position?

Special Needs Mom and Baby

The bottom line is that individuals with Down syndrome go on to lead productive lives.  Molly is an amazing kid. While she may be delayed in areas, she can do everything any other child can do… and more.

I can’t imagine anyone referring to her as a “wrongful birth”.  She’s a beautiful child with a fantastic personality…..and she happens to have an extra chromosome.

Shame on these parents.  Plain and simple….It disgusts me.

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    Comments

  • Hanan


    I couldn’t agree more with you! I think they were just looking out to get lots of money, but don’t realize the impact they will have on their child. Makes me sick to hear anyone say, well if I had known, I would have aborted the baby. Just sick.

    • Carrie with Children


      Thanks for reading, Hanan. It is such a sad situation…one that hits entirely too close to home for me.

  • Megan


    Could not agree with you more. This story made me sick. I don’t know how anyone could every in a million years even think this is ok. We live in a sad sad world.

    • Carrie with Children


      Thanks, Megan. There are so many wrong things with this story. I appreciate you reading.

  • Not a Perfect Mom


    oh Carrie…we are so on the same page…
    http://www.notaperfectmomsblog.com/2012/03/2-9-million/
    I pretty much wrote the same thing….
    that poor little girl…
    I hope they use that money for therapy, like mental therapy when she learns this

    • Carrie with Children


      I really wish the court system had specified how this money was to be used. I hope that it’s truly being spent on her well being. It’s such a sad situation.

  • stephanie gilbert


    I can’t believe the judge awarded it! Shame on him too. I so agree with your thoughts. My son was supposed to be down according to the blood work. The Dr gave me my options, which to me there was only one: he is my baby-period! He was born ‘normal’. So again, these tests are NOT correct (for the record I never agreed to these tests and could have sued, but did not). My son does have Autism and I love him just the same.

    • Carrie with Children


      It’s interesting how the bloodwork can vary from person to person. Here’s hoping that research and advancements can bring us all a better understanding.

      I appreciate you reading, Stephanie. I can tell you are so very proud of your son!

  • Melissa


    When I first read that post I was disgusted and still am! It hurts my heart to think that a MOM {and Dad!} would ever say that. I wish the judge would have taken the baby away from them and placed her in a home where she will be loved.

    • Carrie with Children


      It’s hard to imagine that anyone would have such thoughts toward their own child. This was such a tough story for me to read – it hits too close to home! Thanks for reading :)

  • Rebel Sweetheart


    They don’t even deserve to be called parents.

  • Cassie


    This hurts me as a mother. As a person living in this society it scares me. I think it showa alot about both the parents and the lawyer. And how many times do they have to let everyone know they would not have kept their child? Don’t they think she will one day, if not already, know this. I personally hope they feel the shame they are receiving through out the USA on their selfishness. I would love for someone to revisit this situation in 3-5 years to make sure that every penny they one is only going to the car of that beautiful child and nothing else. You said id right that there are people waiting for babies (with or without Down Syndrome) to call their won, then there are people like this. You said everything I would have said and again you said it well!!

    • Carrie with Children


      Thanks so much for reading, Cassie! I really hope that this money is being used toward the child and her future.

  • Eschelle


    wow that story is really upsetting, how could they say that?! How awful :(

    • Carrie with Children


      I appreciate you reading, Eschelle. It’s a heartbreaking story.

  • Amy T.


    That just makes me so sad for that little girl and what she has ahead of her.

    • Carrie with Children


      It’s such a sad story. I hope they are using that money toward providing their child with the proper care. Thanks for reading, Amy.

  • kris


    MOLLY IS A BEAUTIFUL AND FORTUNATE LITTLE GIRL…..
    YOU ARE A WONDERFUL AND FORTUNATE MOMMY. THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THE OTHER SWEET BABY…. ONLY THAT HER PARENTS DON’T DESERVE HER BLESSINGS.

    • Carrie with Children


      Thank you so much, Kris. I really appreciate your kind words about my Molly. We are so proud of her.

  • Becca @ Mama B


    I read this article the other day and was completely disgusted.

    • Carrie with Children


      That makes two of us, Becca. It was difficult for me to read.

  • Erina


    This is disgusting, makes me sick to think about them saying that. Eery child is a gift!! My daughter was born with Down syndrome, I had no idea..I had the tests done and they came bak normal, I could neverthink of saying I would have aborted them if I had known, this is my child no matter what…She is such joy and it did not matter to me that she has Down Syndrome

    • Carrie with Children


      Thanks for reading, Erina. You are so right – every child is a gift!

  • Mary McLean


    Amen to that, Carrie!!! Terrific article and well said ! We all love Molly and are so thankful to have her with us !!!

  • Sarah


    My heart hurts for that child. My child was not diagnosed with Holoprosencephaly till he was a year old. It doesn’t mean that I was going to sue the doctor or the hospital for not knowing sooner. I mean I missed out on a whole year of therapies because the doctor denied that there was anything wrong with him. Does that make it right for me to sue them? No. I am blessed to have him in my life and even if I knew about his diagnosis before he was born I would not have terminated. He is such a happy boy and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

    • Carrie with Children


      Thanks so much for reading, Sarah. I can tell you are so very proud of your son.

  • Xenia @ Thanks, Mail Carrier


    You’re making me tear up, Carrie!

    I’m just at a loss for words on how disheartening this whole situation is – from the fact that these people could be so cruel to sue for this to the idea that they actually won. What a sad, sad world.

    • Carrie with Children


      I’m sorry to make you tear up, Xenia! :) It was so difficult for me to read that initial story – I couldn’t help but write this post. Thanks for reading.

  • Emily @FamilyNLifeLV


    100% agree with you and more! Shame on them! Wrongful birth. Thank you for sharing what a true blessing Molly is and continues to be to your life. I have learned so much reading your bog, and know God picked the perfect parents for her, and a wonderful mom to be a voice for so many others! You are amazing Carrie.

    • Carrie with Children


      Thank you, Emily! You are too kind… and you’re an awesome friend. :)

  • Kate


    Hi Carrie – I found your blog through Melissa’s Content Brew! Great post, and beautiful daughter. :) There is this whole mess of emotions and weird legal nonsense surrounding “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life” cases and I’ve been meaning to write some posts about it. I definitely feel weird and sad about these kind of lawsuits too – I can’t know what happened in that courtroom, but I want to believe that they really and obviously love their daughter or no jury would have awarded them so much money to take care of her. My law firm actually has a similar case right now–the mom was a tay sachs carrier and the dad was tested and the lab screwed up the results and said he wasn’t a carrier even though he was. They had a little girl with Tay sachs disease who died when she was 2. :( — I know beyond all doubt they loved their little girl more than anything, but they are suing on her behalf, because the lab screwed up and instead of doing ivf to have a healthy baby they had a her–a baby who had a very short, very painful life. The legal argument we have to make is that she shouldn’t have been conceived. It makes me want to cry to even think about it, but that is the only way to make the lab responsible for their mistake. Very tough stuff.

  • Mel S


    Thanks for writing on this topic! I was upset when I heard about this case as well. I worry about the child and her siblings when they learn about the case. I truly hope that the money is used for the care of the sweet girl and also to help the Downs community as well!

    I am new G+ follower through the blog hop. I look forward to reading your other posts!