DEAR JANE: I found out my unborn baby is disabled – now I’m desperate to put him up for adoption

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Dear Jane,

A few months ago I found out I was pregnant. The news came as a huge shock – my boyfriend and I had taken every precaution and hadn’t even discussed whether we wanted a family, let alone whether we were willing to try right away.

After I found out about the pregnancy, we weighed our options and after much thought and many stressful discussions, we decided to keep the baby.

My boyfriend told me that he always wanted to be a father and promised that together we would get through even the most difficult times. I was worried, I really didn’t think I was ready, but he seemed so sure that I would just go along with it.

But then, at one of our last checkups, the doctor sat down with both of us and said that our prenatal screening tests had found some “abnormalities” in our baby’s cells. The doctor said that our baby most likely has Down syndrome and that we should prepare for what that means for both of us as parents.

Dear Jane, I found out that my unborn baby has Down syndrome - and now I want to put him up for adoption because I'm afraid I won't be able to cope with all that the disability will entail

Dear Jane, I found out that my unborn baby has Down syndrome – and now I want to put him up for adoption because I’m afraid I won’t be able to cope with all that the disability will entail

Honestly, I didn’t know what to say or think. All that flashed before my eyes were images of doctor visits and medical exams…images that were a far cry from the rosy picture of parenthood that my friend had painted.

It’s been a few weeks since we received the news and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’ve been replaying it over and over in my head and all I can think is, “I can’t do this.” I’ve tried to tell my boyfriend how I feel but he just tries to calm me down and telling me that we can handle anything when we’re together.

Well, I can’t handle it. I don’t want to deal with this. As selfish as it may sound, I’m not cut out for this. And I think my baby will have a much better start in life with someone else.

I have started looking into adoption and think it is the best path for me at this time. I don’t want the life that lies ahead of me now. I feel like a terrible person, but I know I’ll feel much worse if I have a child I know I don’t want.

How on earth can I explain this to my boyfriend without breaking his heart?

Out of,

Pregnant and anxious

Dear pregnant and anxious women,

I understand how overwhelming and scary it is to experience an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy, without the added complication of possible Down syndrome.

International bestselling author Jane Green offers sage advice on readers' most pressing issues in her Dear Jane Agony Auntie column

International bestselling author Jane Green offers sage advice on readers’ most pressing issues in her Dear Jane Agony Auntie column

Your hormones are going haywire and you’re faced with a decision that you can’t prepare for, that you didn’t plan for, and that you clearly don’t want.

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can advise you to slow down and take a few deep breaths, because it seems like you’re making a number of assumptions about what it’s like to be a child with Down syndrome to raise without you knowing about it.

Before making any decision, I highly recommend you find support groups for parents of children with Down syndrome, talk to parents who have been through it, and get a clearer picture of what it’s like.

Right now you’re in panic mode, which is never the state you want to be in when making a monumental decision like this.

One of our dear friends gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome many years ago. She was advised to take the baby home for a month and then take him back to the hospital, which would institutionalize him. When the month was up, she didn’t take him back.

Her son is now in his 50s, a working athlete who leads a full and happy social life and makes every life he touches a little bit better.

That doesn’t mean you should make the same choice, just that you need to educate yourself and perhaps spend time with the baby before making any final decisions.

Dear Jane,

My husband and I have been married for 13 years. We had ups and downs, but for the most part I think we were happy. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t go out with “the boys”, he doesn’t hit me, he cleans, he cooks, he’s funny and he’s the greatest father to our daughter.

He is the only man who could and still can make me laugh. I love him very and very much.

But here’s the thing: My husband suffers from Tourette’s, OCD, adult ADD, and has schizoaffective disorder. When we argue it can be a little difficult. He swears and can say some pretty nasty things. It has no filter at all and is insensitive.

He’s not particularly “lovey dovey” either. He doesn’t hold my hand, put his arm around me, or kiss me more than once or twice a week. We don’t have much of a sex life either. But I have learned to accept that too.

However, he said something during our last fight that I’m having a hard time getting over. We argued about my being in a bad mood during our morning routine of getting our daughter ready for school. He was upset that I wasn’t happy, even though I explained to him that he needed to understand that I had feelings other than “happy.” He tends to put on a mask to hide his other feelings, but I’m unable to do that.

Well, on that occasion he told me that he had once left a girl he loved – “perhaps more than I ever loved you” – because she “wasn’t happy” like me, and suggested that I shouldn’t do it. If I don’t stop being “unhappy” he will leave me too.

He’s told me terrible things before, but this one really hit me. After the fight he tried to get me to talk to him but I couldn’t stop crying and fell silent. I repeated his words and couldn’t let them go. I know he felt miserable afterwards. He spoke kindly to me and we did what we normally do: carry on.

He still hasn’t apologized and I don’t know what to do at this point. I know we all have pasts and past loves, but he really hurt me. I had been engaged before him, had the dress and half the wedding planned before it was over.

I still don’t feel like I’ve ever loved anyone more, for me he really is the love of my life. Hearing him say, “More than I’ve ever loved you,” shocked me.

We are both strong people but I am having a really hard time getting up from this. Please help. I didn’t think I would ever leave, but I feel defeated. I’m ready to throw in the towel.

Out of,

Woman in an argument

Dear woman in quarrel,

It sounds like you’ve done an excellent job of accepting your husband for who he is, rather than resenting him for having a range of syndromes that result in a type of neurodivergence that one can only deal with can be difficult to live with, not least because open, clear communication is often not easy.

Dear Jane’s Sunday service

Every couple will find themselves in an argument at some point, but those who argue productively and with mutual respect create a much stronger bond than those who throw insults around, leading to resentment and a relationship that only grows weaker over time.

Regardless of whether we are neurodivergent or not, arguments often arise when we say things we don’t mean or necessarily believe in an attempt to hurt our partner while hurting ourselves. Striking is cruel and painful because, as you are discovering, once said, things cannot remain unsaid.

However, the painful things said during a fight are rarely the whole truth.

Your husband has already tried to talk to you, but your own self-protection mechanism has been to shut down, which is not uncommon when arguments and words spoken in arguments bring up old trauma.

If we continue without talking about it, the next time will only lead to a deeper wound.

For your marriage to survive, you both need to have a calm conversation in which you tell him exactly how you felt when he said those words and how you can do things differently in the future, which must include consent, not to say something intentionally hurtful.

If he doesn’t understand why this hurt you, you need to help him see it from your perspective. I wish you the best of luck.

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