A mom from Indiana, Pennsylvania is making news today for making the difficult, heartrending decision to keep her conjoined twins together. Andrew Donovan Lee and Garrett Lee Donovan Stancombe were born on April 10 as omphalopagus conjoined twins, meaning they're connected from the breastbone to the waist. They also share a heart and a liver. Their mother, Michelle Van Horne, explained to CNN it would hurt her and their father, Kody Stancombe, to "lose one and have the other. They were born together; they can stay together."
Weighing into the difficult decision is the fact that sharing a heart makes separation surgery especially risky, potentially putting both children's lives at risk. So it's completely understandable why Van Horne and Stancombe would have decided to go this route ...
And while it may be hard to understand, it's also clear that the couple is thanking their lucky stars. After all, they thought there was a great chance the boys could have been born stillborn.
They're breathing good. They're crying. They're doing everything a normal infant would do. That's why we see them as our miracle babies.
So sweet ... and such a reflection of how mothers who have faced difficult and what some may consider unfathomable circumstances end up simply embracing their children for who they are. And championing their kids at times when society is going to be quick to judge.
In any case like this, or when a child is born with any sort of disability or characteristic that sets them apart from others, there are sure to be tongues wagging. In this situation, surely there is already clucking about whether the parents should have said yes to the surgery, if they still should, how they're going to raise the boys this way, what sort of challenges lie ahead, etc. But what society says and thinks about this isn't what matters in the end at all. All that really does is that parents accept and value their children's uniqueness, as it appears Van Horne and Stancombe are. That in itself is going to go far to keep them strong through the hard times.
How do you feel about these parents' decision? Have you ever had to champion your child's differences in the face of social norms?