Thirty-three years ago, a British mother was given the option to abort her newborn, as she was born with Down syndrome. She suggests the doctors perceived her newborn to be a “useless piece of flesh.” Despite the stigma, this British mom values life, and insisted to keep her newborn. Today, she looks back on that time and couldn’t be prouder with her decision.
Merely one day after Mirka Anderson gave birth to her baby, Emma, at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, doctors told her to abandon her newborn, because they presumed the child “wouldn’t do anything” in her life, as she was born with Down syndrome.
However, Mirka refused. “Needless to say I took her home,” Mirka, originally from Poland, told Cambridge News.
And luckily, she did.
More than three decades later, Emma is a successful artist, whose works are being showcased at the prestigious gallery Tate Modern, as well as other London galleries.
But the road to success wasn’t easy for Emma.
When Emma was a child, Mirka was told she couldn’t attend a normal playgroup with other kids.
“Emma has her challenges, mainly with socializing and social isolation, and sadly she has been marginalized all her life because people don’t know how to be with her—she needs things relayed to her in a simple, clear way and people these days don’t have time for that,” Mirka told Royston Crow.
Despite all the challenges, Mirka fought to have Emma attend mainstream school.
“I am from communist Poland so we are used to jumping red tape. Throughout her schooling all I asked for was for her to be given a chance,” she said.
Thanks to her mother’s determination, Emma went on to complete secondary school with a GCSE in Art.
In 2005, while studying at Cambridge Regional College, a college teacher encouraged Emma to enter her artworks into an art competition. She won, and her paintings were exhibited at Tate Modern.
Emma now sells her paintings and sculptures at public exhibitions, and volunteers to look after children at a nursery.
“The kids adore her,” said Mirka. “She emanates positive energy.”
Not only are Emma’s artworks displayed in London galleries, but her life story was also featured in an award-winning documentary—The Sky is the Limit. The film was directed by Mirka herself in the hopes of spreading awareness about Down syndrome.
Speaking of the 25-minute documentary, Mirka said: “It has a strong focus on the fact these people are socially marginalized. Spend some time with them and you discover amazing stuff.”
“I have spent 33 years of my life fighting for the fact these people have potential,” Mirka said. “We all have abilities, limited abilities, disabilities.”
Mirka couldn’t be more accurate.
Hopefully, with Emma’s achievements, society will change the way they perceive Down syndrome. Hopefully both parents and doctors alike will stop the practice of aborting these Down syndrome babies and give them a go at life, for they too deserve a chance to shine.
“It was very damaging as a mother who had just given birth to be told your baby is a useless piece of flesh. Look at her now. She’s a super kid,” Mirka said with pride.
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