The Hands

When a child is born with a visible disability
the hands of the community are extended to the family
offering assistance and comfort.

The hands help to prepare a way for the child
and they applaud as he reaches goals and milestones.
The hands touch the shoulders of the parents
and convey words of encouragement and praise
for the extraordinary care they have given.

When the family grows weary
the hands are there to raise them up.
In the evening the hands are folded in prayer for the family
and the family feels their warmth and strength.

When a child is born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
the hands of the community are also extended,
but it is not assistance that they offer- 
for their fingers are pointed in blame. 

The child grows and reaches milestones
but is rarely applauded- 
the fingers point only to his behaviors. 
The hands surrounding the parents convey words 
that are harsh and full of criticism. 
The hands are used to cover the words 
that slip from mouth to ear in the community. 

The family grows weary. 
In the evening the hands attempt to fold in prayer 
but the fingers still point in blame 
and the family feels alone.

by Kari Fletcher June 2005
© 2005 (reprinted with permission)

Grieving the Loss of the Dream