The first two times that I was pregnant, I heard the phrase "Well it doesn't matter as long its healthy!" quite a bit, often in response to a question of what gender my baby was. It didn't phase me. I might have even said it myself. I mean, after all, doesn't everyone want a healthy baby?
Then we adopted M.
She was born premature which resulted in a laundry list of medical conditions, then left in a hospital because she was not "healthy." No matter how gently we have put this to her when explaining the "WHY?" she discerned the cold hard truth of it all.
Never was this more apparent to me than when we told the kids I was expecting. Her initial reaction was thrilled. "YES!" Then later she said, "I really hope the baby is ok. I don't want it to be born too early like me and have problems. Its not fun."
Eastern European countries make no qualms about how they feel towards "unhealthy" children. I've often heard how nannies tell disabled children that no one would ever want them. This was the very reason we chose to adopt a special needs child. We wanted to adopt a child that no one else would go get.
I assured M that no matter what, even if the baby had problems, we would love it and make sure to get it the help that it needed, like we do for her. But abandonment is ingrained in her mind. Her disability made those who were supposed to care for her, leave her. For 4 1/2 years she had no family. And if that happened to her...
A few days later I got the standard, "As long as its healthy!" line from someone and I cringed. I cringed because we want this baby no matter what. If its not healthy, we still want it. There is no "As long as…" No. Its ours. We love it.
I want to encourage people to please think before making statements like that to pregnant mothers. I've spent time explaining to my child that babies don't have to be healthy to deserve love, yet society seems bent on implying that maybe they do…
I would guess that 99% of the people that make the statement do not mean anything harmful by it, but like many things in our society it said without giving it any thought. I want to encourage people to think about what that really means, and perhaps come up with alternative ways to encourage an expecting mama not to worry over what gender baby is. Perhaps a more appropriate statement would be, "Any child is a blessing from the Lord and I'm sure you are great mom."