The Perfection of Imperfection

For five children and me, times were dark. Then one of them lit a candle. You can light up a dark room, you know, with just a bit of humor.

A mere two months after their father left, my ten-year-old daughter told a story to her friends on the school playground. And because of our family history, they believed her.

That evening, my phone rang.

As I said, “hello,” my friend cried out, “Is it true?”


“Are you having another baby?”


My daughter had told my friend’s daughter that the number of siblings in our tribe would increase. My friend and I pondered a moment.

Then we understood.

It was April 1.

Grace under fire. A child showed me what those words meant.

Thirteen years later, my phone rang once more. I knew at hello this call had joy in it. This same daughter had a wonderful lilt in her voice as she told me she and her husband were expecting their second child.

But a few months later, my phone rang again. A blood test had come back positive. Perhaps the child would have Down Syndrome. Doctors wanted to do a more invasive test.

“Come over for dinner tonight,” I said. “We can talk about it.” I knew that the test was not without risk. And the risk could be greater than the value of the information gained.

But when they got there, there was little to discuss. They wanted no part in an invasive test. They would welcome whoever was coming in whatever condition he would come.

“I would rather have a Down baby than no baby at all,” she said.

A few months later my phone rang once more. This time in the middle of the night.

It was time.

At the hospital, her labor seemed stuck. We walked around the hallway once. Then things began to happen quickly. So quickly that an emergency room physician rode up in the elevator just in time to attend the delivery.

A beautiful boy emerged. Perfect in every way.

What had the false test recognized? Not an extra chromosome. Perhaps an extra dose of talent and wit?

But the gift he is today would not be less if he had one more chromosome. It would only be different.

We are no less perfect in each of our imperfections.


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0 Replies to “The Perfection of Imperfection”

  1. Too many of these pre-natal tests give false positives. As well, the medical community has become eugenicist in recent decades. All parents need to be aware of this.
    Glad this had a happy ending.

    1. Eventually, it’s all a happy ending. New parents of challenged children have grief. But many come to see the beauty of these children. Eugenicists value us according to our degrees of perfection–but that is a dangerous and moving line as history shows.

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