Monday, March 26, 2012

We interrupt our previously scheduled programming…

Just over a week ago I wrote A Rightful Life, A letter to Omaha. It began:

Dear Omaha,

Have you ever had one of those days when you realize just how blessed you are? Sometimes that realization comes amidst the strangest of circumstances, like today when I read the article about the Levy family of Portland, Oregon.

Ariel and Deborah Levy won a $2.9 million lawsuit on Friday, March 9th, for what is being coined as “wrongful life.” The problem is, in a nutshell, their daughter was born (with Down Syndrome). Had the prenatal testing done its “job,” Levy’s daughter never would have been born.

The folks at the Omaha World Herald blogsite Momaha showed an interest in my editorial and pursued it further. I was excited and passionate about this subject which focused not on the Levy’s so much, but more on our community and the Madonna School. My article went on to share that:

In two separate articles, reported that “Professionals have told the Levys that she (their daughter) will likely never be able to live independently, or earn a living.” And also that the Levy’s worry she won’t get the attention she needs in school.

It’s a shame for the Levys (and maybe even the insurance company) that they don’t live in Omaha, Nebraska. Because in Omaha we have a variety of resources for families with special needs children, particularly one called the Madonna School and Workshop. The Madonna School’s mission is to help each child become as independent as possible, from the youngest child still learning to communicate to the high-schooler starting in the life skills programs. And the transition program works with students, families, and businesses to develop job skills and facilitate placement of the Madonna students in safe and productive work environments.

The following 250 words or so talked about my son, about the Madonna School’s influence, and about how I feel sorry for the Levys who see their daughter’s birth as “wrong” because I am sure there is nothing wrong about the life of their four year old.

Things went well between the editor and myself, a publication time was set and final edits were made and then I got an email that said:

“I showed the piece to my editor and We worry it doesn't give enough details about your life. Could you tell us the ups-and-downs of having a special needs child? When did you find out? Were you tested? What was your initial reaction? When do you get most happy/frustrated? Insight into your life I think will help the readers understand the struggles and joys of parenting?”

My head spun a few times. Are they serious? Sure! I’ll just sum up these complex issues and emotions and drop them in with a few key phrases into this piece. Sigh. Welcome to publication and editors.

So the next few days involved another re-write by me, further questions about Marcus, and a further writing done by the editor until finally - we have a guest blog! Whew. It is a bit off the path from my original intention, but I do trust the editors that it will serve a greater audience (and thus a greater purpose) with the revisions.

SO - the final work is here:

Thank you to the Omaha World Herald for giving this attention

I hope you check it out and feel free to comment or share on the Momaha site. This is your opportunity to share your Madonna experiences with the city of Omaha.


  1. Excellent work. I'm impressed with your ability to summarize so much into so few words.

    I'm so glad to be a part of the NOT wrongful life of Marcus and many other wonderful young men and women with Down syndrome.

    God bless!

  2. Mardra, you did a great job. The rewrite/write/rewrite came out well. Maybe it was just the conversations we've had, or the fact that any decent human being would agree with you (oh, does that make be decent?), but I understood the outrage. It was so very well put without name-calling or blaming or hate-flinging. It was understated because the focus was on how great of a life their child can have and you show how.

    We are definitely lucky to have Madonna School...and all the wonderful children who attend!

  3. Fabulously written article! I am still understanding all of my son's gifts. His autism makes their discovery a little more difficult but incredibly wonderful. He makes me slow down and enjoy all of the little things in the world. His life is definitely not wrongful. It may be more difficult for him to fit in with this world but he has already made it a better place.


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