Currently, most pregnancies where the fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated through abortion. Today, Down syndrome and several other disabilities can be detected through genetic and other testing “in utero”. When the news is given, often these shocked and scared parents only hear advice from their doctor, which typically is to abort the child. These parents are usually pressured to make this difficult decision before hearing the other side … the side that speaks of the trials, but also the joys and rewards of having a child with a disability.
This is where a new nonprofit initiative, Orange Socks, comes in. Orange Socks’ mission is to educate these expectant parents, giving them the “other side” so their decision to continue or end the pregnancy can be a more fully informed one.
Its website, orangesocks.org will feature stories from parents who have raised children with various disabilities. Prospective parents carrying a child with Spina Bifida, for example, can hear interviews and read stories by real parents of children with Spina Bifida. Parents with experience of many disabilities will be featured, from common to rare. The idea is to match prospective parents with the story of another parent who has hands-on experience raising a son or daughter with the same disability.
The question is often asked, “Why the name Orange Socks?” As founder, I wanted this effort to be easily identifiable. As I reflected on what the name should be, I thought of Johnny Cash who wore black as a social statement. I thought, “Well, I can’t wear all black, but I can wear socks. Moreover, wearing socks of a distinctive color could be both the symbol and the name of the organization.”
I did an internet search and tried “orange socks.” The search yielded an article about a woman killed in Georgetown, Texas, in 1979. She was discarded by the side of the road wearing only a pair of orange socks. She was given the name “Orange Socks” by the authorities because she was unidentified, and remains so today.
I felt this woman was emblematic of countless unnamed children, discarded through abortion due to a lack of information about the disability. I named the initiative Orange Socks in this woman’s honor.
“I now wear orange socks everywhere I go because people with disabilities are awesome. I can speak first hand. I am the father of a 15- year-old daughter with Down syndrome.”
To learn more about the Orange Socks Project … including how you yourself might participate by sharing with these pressured parents the positive experiences in raising a special needs child … add that interest to your comment below.