A Solemn Mockery?

As we drove home the other day, my 12-year-old son Andrew wondered aloud which restaurant his brother Sam might choose for his baptism dinner. Sam’s eighth birthday is more than a year away, but it’s not very often that our whole family eats out together, and Andrew is already looking forward to it. We discussed a few possibilities, from McDonald’s to Sizzler to Famous Dave’s. In the middle of our conversation Andrew had a sudden thought: “Mom, I just realized something awesome. By the time Sam turns eight, Ben is going to be old enough to baptize him!”

“That’s right,” I said. Ben, my oldest son, will turn sixteen a few months before the big occasion.

Andrew paused in thought for a moment, and then his face lit up. “That means I’ll be old enough to baptize Thomas when he’s eight!”

I smiled, but my heart twisted a little bit. “True. You’ll be sixteen by then. But Andrew, we’re not sure if Thomas will be baptized when he’s eight. He might be a little older, or even a lot older.”

His brow furrowed. “How come?”

“Well, you know kids typically get baptized when they’re eight because at that point, they’re capable of knowing right from wrong and they can keep a promise to choose what’s right. To try to choose what’s right, anyway, and to repent when they mess up.”

He nodded.

“But we don’t know if Thomas will be ready for that step when he’s eight. We don’t baptize babies and little kids because they’re too young to understand the covenant, right? The Book of Mormon says we’re not supposed to baptize people who can’t understand for other reasons, either.”

“Like people with Down syndrome?”

“Sometimes. It depends. Some people with Down syndrome might get baptized when they’re eight. Some might need more time to be ready.” I didn’t mention that some never get baptized at all. Instead I explained that the atonement unconditionally saves people who are incapable of sin for whatever reason.

“But what if Thomas really wants to be baptized before he’s ready? What if he can’t understand why he’s not allowed?” Andrew started getting teary.

“I don’t know,” I said, my heart twisting tightly now. “That would be hard. We’ll just have to wait and see how things go for Thomas.”

Andrew thought for a minute. “Okay. But no matter how old Thomas is when he’s ready, I want to be the one who baptizes him. As long as Thomas agrees, that is.”

We both laughed. After four years with Thomas, it’s clear that he cannot be convinced against his will. We traded funny anecdotes about this very determined little boy, and by the time we got home Andrew seemed to be at peace. But I stayed knotted up inside for hours afterward, and part of me is wistful still.

When Thomas was born with Down syndrome, one of the first things Reed and I wondered was what would happen when our son turned eight. We ordered the Church’s “Guidebook for Parents of Handicapped Children,” a well-intentioned but in some ways outdated resource that has since been discontinued. The guidance therein regarding baptism is similar to the current counsel on the Church’s excellent web site, Disability Resources.

Q: What are the guidelines as to whether or not a child with an intellectual disability may be baptized?

A: This is a matter between parents, the child, and local priesthood leaders. If the child has a basicunderstanding of gospel principles and wishes to be baptized, then baptism may be possible.

Now, that’s as good as it gets. I’m grateful such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, that parents and the child himself are included, and that the authorities involved are those who (hopefully) know the child well. I trust God knows Thomas better than any of us, and that he’ll guide us in making the best decision, and that in the final sense, Thomas’s salvation doesn’t hinge on our decision anyway. And I’m hopeful that such a decision will be a moot point by the time Thomas is eight, or eighteen.

But I know there’s a good chance it won’t be. Thomas has multiple disabilities–Down syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that further complicates his development, and an auditory dysfunction to top things off. He is bright–eerily bright–in ways we never expected, but his capacity to communicate is profoundly limited. I will not write him off, not now, not ever. Nor will I bury my head in the sand and believe that if we just work hard enough, his disabilities will disappear.

I know it may seem pointless–even misguided–to worry about a baptism that might not even be necessary. For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have dno law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing. Mormon even calls the baptism of those who cannot sin a “solemn mockery” before God.

But I can’t help but think about the innocent children who partake of the sacrament every week, even my own children who ate the bread and drank the water from the time they could chew and swallow. We do not require them to understand, or even to believe. In this case, it is not a solemn mockery for the sinless to participate in a ritual designed for sinners–the ordinance beautifully signifies the salvation promised to them without condition, the salvation made possible through the sacrificed body and spilled blood of Christ. Watching little children partake of the sacrament reminds all of us whose children they are, and signifies their belonging in our community of saints.

And that is why I’m wistful when I think about Thomas’s baptism, the baptism that might not ever be. I want to see him lowered into the water and raised up again, alive in Christ. I want to see hands placed upon his head and hear him confirmed a member of the Church, and see my brothers and sisters raise their hands to welcome him into the fold. Would it really do any harm? And even if it availeth his soul nothing, wouldn’t it avail ours much?

________________________

A Solemn Mockery?

Comments

  1. davidvblack says:

    I’ve had a number of people tell me that my little boy with Down syndrome is Celestial. They ask, “Isn’t it great to have a child that is guaranteed the Celestial Kingdom?” I know that ALL little children are Celestial, as are those who for one reason or another never reach the age of accountability. My son may very well fit into both categories, but then maybe he won’t. I know people with Down syndrome who have not only been baptized, but endowed, served service missions and even been married in the temple. They’ve entered into covenants and it would stand to reason that they are not “guaranteed” the Celestial Kingdom unless they keep those covenants. That is, unless they received these ordinances like our little children receive the sacrament each Sunday.

  2. I don’t know Kathryn. I’ve thought along these very same lines, albeit more moderate, with my son’s autism.

    Thank you for sharing your tender musings on a sensitive subject.

  3. I don’t know Thomas, but basic gospel priciples are fairly easy to understand. Love God and Jesus, love your family and do your best to be obedient. My youngest daughter has a birth injury to her brain which has left her intellectually disabled (to use the pc phrase). Her IQ is measured at 60. She has attended church all of her life and, after speaking with our Bishop, she was baptized at 8. She is 22 now and may never be endowed or have a temple marriage, as those things require more depth of understanding than she may be able to manage, but she is as valiant a member of the church as any other young person I know. I am sure Heavenly Father would never consider her desire to be baptized and her efforts to live up to the covenant she made a mockery.

  4. The “mockery” only comes in, IMO, when people insist contrary to revelation that little children or other innocents *must* be baptized in order to be saved. I’ve known several young people with Down syndrome or birth injuries who were baptized at their own request when they probably didn’t understand any more about it than that it’s what their tribe does. Nobody is mocking anything in those cases by saying that, contrary to his word, Christ’s atonement didn’t extend to little children and other innocents.

    (Please forgive the potential offensiveness of this; I don’t know how to illustrate except by contrast to what I think you would really do:) It would be mockery if, say, Thomas were so uncomprehending that he didn’t recognize that baptism is somehow different from taking a bath in the tub, even if he couldn’t articulate the difference, or if he hated water and fought against going into the font, but you insisted on baptizing him because you were afraid he would be damned if you didn’t.

  5. StillConfused says:

    When my son turned 8, his baptism was scheduled with an 8 year old downs syndrome girl. She screamed bloody murder when placed in the water. She clearly thought she was being hurt. It was so horrific that I had to step out and did not come back until they came and got me and said it was my son’s turn. I thought it was pretty sick that the parents did that to the little girl who clearly was not capable of understanding what was going on. They kept saying that it was “what she wanted”. No, it was what they wanted. I have negative feelings associated with my son’s baptism which is a bummer.

    So I think it was right of you to let your one son know that his brother might not be ready.

  6. Kathy,
    My heart twists the same way. The little boys who are my son’s age will be baptized this year. His level of disability puts him with the innocents, and sometimes it’s tough to see where he “should” be in his development. Many hugs to you, Thomas, and your sweet sons for wanting to perform the sacred ordinance for their brother.

  7. “And even if it availeth his soul nothing, wouldn’t it avail ours much?”

    Great comment. I also agree with Ardis’s comment completely about where the mockery comes in. I don’t see any benefit to denying baptism to your son if he desires it, and if it would be special for your family. Baptism has many purposes; we don’t have to focus on just the accountability aspect. It’s a symbol; it’s a way of accepting grace offered by Jesus. Question: How else will his name remain on the records of the church, anyway?

  8. StillConfused, despite how “horrific” it might have been for you, I think it is a lot to call the situation “pretty sick”. There might be so much that you don’t know going on.

    Kathryn, my heart is with you. I really can’t presume to answer any of your questions. I think the thing I have learned the most from parenthood so far is that it is so unique between parent and child (and different children). I just don’t desire to make any judgements about anyone else. So, I pray that your soul is at peace with whatever Thomas and your family does or does not decide (whenever that may be).

  9. Mark Brown says:

    “If the child has a basic understanding of gospel principles and wishes to be baptized….”

    I think the desires of the individual should be the deciding factor. Most of us don’t fully grasp what we are getting into when we get baptized, we just have an idea that it is God’s will.

    Another thing to consider is that the church computer system automatically drops people after they reach a certain age and haven’t been baptized. I know that even at the age of 9 years old, a child who is baptized is counted as a convert baptism. At some point Thomas should probably be baptized just so he remains visible to the records of the church.

  10. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Thanks for these comments. Ardis, I really appreciate your input–very helpful, and sensitively put. And I love hearing from other parents of kids with disabilities, as well as others who are sympathetic to the complexities that can arise in these situations.

    #7, I love what you said about the symbolism of baptism. To answer your question, there’s a “not accountable” option that keeps adults in that category on the records of the church. It’s a wise and necessary feature in our record keeping, and I’m grateful for it. It makes me realize, though, how inadequate a black-or-white, yes-or-no categorization can be when it comes to describing accountability.

    #1, you made many important points. I was about to launch into a response, but maybe I should write a separate post on the topic. Thinking . . .

  11. I teach a child in Sunday School who has Down syndrome. I read on the church’s handbook about those with mental disabilities that they can participate in ordinances. He was baptized and received the priesthood and at age 12 passes the sacrament. I really appreciate that my ward allows him to do that and he is wonderful at it

    However, of course each child and family is unique and I’m sure you will be led by the Spirit in choosing your path!

  12. davidvblack says:

    p.s. to #1 – I should say “keep their covenants to the best of their ability.” (You know, like we all do.)

  13. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Thanks, Mark (#9). I agree–the desires of the individual are the most important concern.

    Which leads me to say: I certainly wouldn’t want to drag Thomas into the font, kicking and screaming, to fulfill my own desire. At the same time, I’m sympathetic to parents who might struggle to make practical choices for their disabled child, especially concerning such a celebrated milestone as baptism. Denial of limitations can (understandably) run deep and wide, and like all parents, those who have disabled children sometimes mistake their own dreams for their childrens’.

    But who knows–the little girl described in #5 might’ve eagerly anticipated her baptism day for some time, only to freak out when it actually came time to get in the font. If so, she certainly wasn’t the first!

    In any case, extra patience from peers is much appreciated by those who face extra struggles in parenting.

  14. Thank you for this beautiful post, Kathryn.

  15. I wrote a terrible short story about the dark side of this question some time ago, about coercive convert baptism of the profoundly mentally ill. The writing was bad, but I think the central problem is a rich and important one.

    Yours seems to me to be rather a simpler problem and rather brighter. I think the problem with the way you’re framing the problem is that you’re allowing the intensely individualistic American Protestant overtones of baptism to drown out the sweet, communal, adoptive tones. Sure, covenants are agreements between individuals and God, but covenants are also divine acts of connectedness, and this less typically American reading of covenants is perfectly consistent with having Thomas be baptized when he wants to be. Reading baptism as an outward, communal recognition of the adoption into the family of God allows room for the baptism of people who don’t meet traditional standards of adult moral agency.

    We have to be cautious about the fear of imputing evil to someone who is not evil, a narrative about baptism that I don’t find particularly ensouling for anybody. Baptizing Thomas need neither imply nor require imputation of sin. It could easily be read as the welcoming of the sinless into the family of God.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t consider baptism as the absolution of sin for the majority of people being baptized, but that the rich narratives of communal, interconnected salvation that undergird baptism provide room for those with typical cognitive development as well as those with atypical cognitive development.

  16. I know a woman who could probably be my mother who can’t be baptized — she has an open tracheotomy site and can’t go under water, even for the brief time it takes to be baptized. So she’s going to have to wait to have the work done for her after she dies — someone doing for her what she can’t do for herself, but definitely would.

    Sometimes there is no alternative to taking the eternal view that it doesn’t matter when these things happen, so long as it happens, and that the covenants are kept. And I can’t help but think that that’s where we need to go in preference to the cultural trappings we’ve added to them.

  17. Alan LeBaron says:

    Fwiw: #10 – Church Handbook of Instructions 2006, pp 147 describes the maintenance of membership records for members with disabilities. It also makes the point that these records should not be canceled.
    #9 – CHI 2006, pp 146. MSI doesn’t automatically drop the “membership” of the unbaptized members of record. If at age 18 the person refuses to be baptized, the bishop has to get written permission from the SP to cancel the record.

  18. KLS, I want you to know that even though your post made me cry, I forgive you.

    I have a friend whose child has multiple disabilities, and she struggled over whether to have her baptized but eventually came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter that her daughter didn’t *need* to be baptized–she *wanted* to be baptized, and she felt it would be wrong to deny her the opportunity. I’m sure you’ll have your own revelation on the subject when your time comes, and you’ll have peace with your decision.

  19. Aw, Kathryn. This is Mormon blogging at its very best–the thoughtful sharing of unique perspectives on the joys and challenges of the gospel.

  20. Kathryn:

    I believe that Ardis is correct and this corresponds to the understanding I have always had about Mormon’s discourse on infant baptism. He is not saying that the act of baptism itself is a mockery to God but rather those who in effect deny the Atonement of Christ by claiming that an infant who dies without baptism is damned to eternal torture in Hell, or otherwise would not be able to go to Heaven.

    If your son grows up with the desire to be baptized, I would think there should be no impediment whatsoever in letting him receive the ordinance and experience that event. Even if his development has been such that you are fairly certain he does not understand repentence very well, his desire to be baptized will be based on his having witnessed his siblings’ baptisms. In getting baptized, he is choosing to be adopted into the family of Christ and I would think that he would definitely be capable of expressing love for Jesus Christ.

  21. Last Lemming says:

    StillConfused raises a critical point. It is never about the parents’ wishes. If the child is at all resistant, the baptism shouldn’t happen, no matter how good it would make the parents feel. That is true for normal children as well.

    Another thing (which I’m sure all commenters understand, but which the people davidvblack interacts with apparently do not). Down syndrome per se does not make anybody Celestial. It is entirely a matter of development (or lack thereof). Nobody should assume that folks with Down syndrome who have been baptized, ordained, or endowed did not need those ordinances. The developmental scatter among them is such that some become fully accountable and capable of keeping all such covenants.

  22. Thank you, Last Lemming.

  23. I concur with what john f. said above. Well said, john!

  24. John Mansfield says:

    What of those whose mental development is sufficient to allow them to desire baptism, but not enough so to manifest by a godly walk and conversation that they could live up to it? At some levels of impairment, people are not held accountable by society for acts that otherwise would be terrible crimes. Can such a person meaningfully take on the role of discipleship? When I think of a few particular individuals of this sort known to me, I am glad they are members of the church, but I question how much such feelings should weigh in.

  25. My daughter who has down syndrome is 13. So far she has chosen not to be baptized. She is not afraid of the water, she swims like a fish, jumping in, going under, etc. Last summer we did some practice baptisms (without the prayers) in the pool. She had no problem with it. She loves to look at pictures of baptisms, talks about Jesus being baptized, will tell you which siblings have been baptized. But if we ask her if she wants to be baptized she says ‘no, no, I don’t want to’. So we will let her make her choice. Every once in a while we ask if she has changed her mind, but we will never force her.

    I believe that if someone with an intellectual disability desires to be baptized, why shouldn’t they be allowed? They may not understand all of their covenants, but if they have a desire to do as the Savior did, to be a part of his fold, why not be baptized.
    I’m glad it is up to the individual, the parents and their local leader.

  26. Karen, agreed 100%.

  27. I have friends with 2 disabled kids who are old enough to be baptized. This family has decided not to get them baptized.

    What factors play into this decision? To baptize or not?

  28. Well said, Karen. And smb and john f, I’m grateful for your words–that’s what I was getting at in the OP, a desire for Thomas to be baptized (if he wants) to symbolize his relationship with Christ and his church community.

    I should point out, though, that Moroni 8 is heavily slanted toward the remission of sins facet of baptism. A surface reading suggests that baptizing those “without the law” is not a benign practice (let alone a beautiful one, in terms of community building), but is actually blasphemous.

    22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—
    23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.
    24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.

  29. John Mansfield says:

    D&C 20:70 gives us another ordinance connecting our children with Christ and His church. Sandwiched as it between verses regarding the requirements for baptism, it may be intended as an answer regarding those who are not capable of repentance.

  30. Thank you for the beautiful post (as always!). I agree with Cynthia L.: this is one of the strengths of the internet, to be able to share experiences and thoughts on a topic such as this one.

  31. Kathryn, I read Moroni 8 the same way as John F. #20 and Ardis #4. It most certainly isn’t a mockery to baptize those who have a desire to follow Christ but not a full comprehension of the ordinance. Some understanding is essential of course, but even now, how many of us “non-disabled” fully understand baptism?

    We know that children advance in different things at different ages — they don’t all know right from wrong to the same degree simply because they turn eight. Yet, at eight they’re eligible if they have a desire to follow Christ.

    Baptizing someone unwillingly is definitely a mockery, imo. Even if the kid is simply throwing a tantrum that day, I’d rather wait a month than go ahead anyway.

    Let the little children come unto Him. Don’t stop them when they want to, and don’t force them if they don’t.

  32. Kathryn:

    You wouldn’t be “putting trust in dead works” (v. 23), so it’s legit.

  33. John Mansfield says:

    If a five-year-old wants to be baptized now, and her bishop does not allow her this, is he preventing a little child from coming unto Jesus, or trying to?

  34. This is a great post. You last point/paragraph is really great and something I had never thought of. I do not think it would do any harm if he was willing to do so.

    Thanks for the post. So well written.

  35. –John Mansfield Says:
    December 15, 2009 at 1:37 pm
    If a five-year-old wants to be baptized now, and her bishop does not allow her this, is he preventing a little child from coming unto Jesus, or trying to?–

    I think there is a difference here. My daughter is over eight years old. She may not have all the mental/physical abilities that other 13 year olds have, but she does have many age appropriate abilities. She attends young womens on Sunday and goes to mutual each week. She goes to school and spends a lot of her time being a regular kid. She should be able to participate in meaninful rituals of our religion if she is able to do so in a respectful and appropriate manner.

  36. Sam Kitterman says:

    #25
    The thought they not understand all of the duties or obligations surely apply to all whether it be baptism or the endowment. For example, I thought I was prepared for my endowment (sole convert from family at age of 14),BUT find years later I an only really beginning to comprehend the ceremony.
    Yet, if one has the desire and can express that desire,why say no because of the issue of one not having a full understanding?
    If that was the requirement, I as a parent would have said no for my children until I knew they fully understood all the ramifications…but faith dictates otherwise.

  37. John Mansfield says:

    Karen (#35), perhaps your daughter can live up to the covenants of baptism; I hope to not be audacious enough to do more than guess. But supposing a given mentally impaired person is qualified for baptism, it is easy to postulate another with more severe impairment, and so on, until we find one who can’t live the covenant but still wants to experience the ordinance.

  38. #28, remember that specific scritpures are elements in specific conversations. a polemic against infant baptism does not mean that baptism cannot also contain the communal reading. There’s that old parable about the blind men and the elephant, trying to extrapolate to the whole body from the ears or the tail or the trunk. I’m not denying the importance of the individualist narrative of baptism, I’m suggesting that baptism is bigger than that and that part of what guides our interactions with other narratives of baptism is our specific situation in life. For those for whom this issue of moral absolution burns less urgently, the communalist narrative of baptism seems exactly the right way to understand it.

  39. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    But Sam, if they’re eating the elephant they’ve got to start somewhere.

  40. Years ago when I was Bishop this situation came up with an autistic child. (He would now be classified as Asbergers.) The child was listed as “Not accountable” but as said above, the handbook clearly indicated this was an individual matter. I knew the family well and we met and decided their son was not ready at 8. I kept an eye on him and, in this case, he seemed to really begin to comprehend things I thought an 8 year old should know before being baptized. With permission, I began to meet with the boy for a little while during the primary time and “talk about Jesus”. In this case it worked out that I had his “category” changed and he was baptized at 9. It was a very choice experience. He is currently 15 and is a teacher. Again, this is a very individual/family decision to be guided by the Spirit.

    I am still “tight” with the boy and his family.

  41. #39 I would start with a flank steak. I hear it’s pretty gamey though.
    If I’m correct in reading you as serious, I would suggest that divine concepts don’t necessarily require the reductionistic approach that has become so central to our current worldview that we no longer recognize it as being something that could be set aside. Logical or temporal anteriority aren’t absolutely necessary here. Maybe this silly metaphor of the “cloud” of computers is relevant here, a sense of integration and aspatiality and atemporality. Within the “cloud” of baptism are multiple narratives that may not even merge in any one life at any one time. but they are part of that cloud.

  42. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    I hear you, Sam. I just wanted to solemnly mock elephant jokes.

    Seriously, though, these are very helpful thoughts. Reed and I were talking last night about the counterintuitive dynamic in seeking truth: the more you insist on pinning it down and affixing a tidy label, entymologist style, the less you understand.

  43. KLS and smb, I appreciate the latest exchange very much.

    I believe we FAR under-value the conceptual and symbolic beauty and power of ordinances when we constrict them too narrowly within absolute literalism – and that Mormonism’s uniqueness as an alternative theology loses much within such constraints.

  44. Many years ago when I was a stake mission president and faced with a similar dilemma, I contacted the then mission president and he gave counsel I’ve never forgotten. In effect, he said, “Go ahead and baptize the young man. We wouldn’t want to deprive him of the tender mercies of the Savior.” And we did.

  45. Kathryn, thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I don’t have any profound thoughts on this myself, but you have stirred the feelings. Wish we could post colors rather than thoughts as comments, in which case I’d send some bold splashes of blue, green, and yellow and a comforting ray of peace and hope.

  46. My friend’s daughter is mentally retarded and she was baptized at 8 years old, by my husband. She wanted to and so she was. It was no big deal, it was important to her, and there were no roadblocks. Now she’s 34, if my memory serves me right and she’s getting ready to go to the temple. I don’t think it matters either way in terms of her salvation, but it’s important to her.

  47. Sinless Christ was was baptized – not a mockery.

    Priests in the Orthodox Church always tell parents that if a child dies without being baptized he is going strait to hell, forever. That is a real mockery of the mercy and justice of God, and this must the kind of thinking that Mormons refers to. I don’t think it could possibly apply to your situation and your earnest incentives.

  48. Thank you for sharing so tenderly, Kathy.

    You are a blessed mother, IMHO, to have such a blessed soul as your son. I find, as you seem to have, that children who have what we call learning disabilities can be wise beyond our years. At least, that has been my experience, especially with some of the young men in Church as well as my little brother who has developmental delays.

    Sometimes I just look into his eyes and wonder aloud what he is thinking about. It is clear he is cognizant of something.
    I think he’s got it all figured out. Of course, as time goes on, we forget that pure knowledge we had in the life before in the mansions of our Father.

  49. What a beautiful post. I hope, when the time comes, your son can communicate his desires clearly, so you are not left to wonder what role your own desires and cultural norms have played. I don’t see any mockery in allowing a child to be baptied even if they don’t express their knowledge of the gospel normally, or function similarly to their peers. What would Jesus say looking at your child?

    My daughter just turned 8 last friday and I have gone through this nervousness of wondering whether she will chose to be baptized. It would be unique, given how she was raised, that she would buck all that, yet we still feel nervous when we actually ask.

    i suppose there will be moments of mourning the boy you imagined you would have, all along the way..as you see his peers pass those hallmark life events tha may never come or will be so different. It is hard to maintain hope and optimism in his potential, while preparing for reality. You appear to have a great sense of humor and ability to observe him as he is.

  50. I so appreciate these comments. Thank you, everyone. Parenting a child with complex needs can feel lonely at times and it means a lot to have your support, even from a distance.

    britt, you are spot-on about the mourning. It surprises me again and again, no matter how much progress I think I’ve made in the adjustment process. Thank you for that validation.

  51. Sorry if this was addressed in an earlier comment, I skipped them:

    Does the church discourage Thomas from taking the sacrament on account of his not understanding the covenant it entails? If not, and I don’t see why anyone would try to stop him, I don’t know why any person that understands baptism enough to wish to be baptized, even if it’s essentially to be like the rest of their family, should be denied baptism. I suspect the vast majority of children get baptized primarily because they want to be like the rest of their family.

    There’s no harm in his being baptized, just as there’s no harm in his partaking of the sacrament and covenanting to keep the commandments and to remember Christ. He surely does both to the best of his ability.

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