What makes a Family?

Lily Barreto’s world seemed to crumble upon learning of her unborn child’s terminal illness. During the interval between this sad news and her son’s death, her family discovered the singular importance of a mother’s love in the family.
by Peter Mullan, LC | Source:
Given the choice, how many mothers would prefer to have a blind, deaf and completely unconscious child who was certain to die within hours? Not one; every mother longs for a sound, healthy infant.

But how many would turn down the offer to abort and go ahead with the birth? More than you might think.

Such was the case for Lily Barreto from Peru. She was four months pregnant with her fourth child when the unborn baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a malfunction in the neural tube’s development that results in the absence of a significant part of the brain.

The life expectancy of their child was a maximum of three days. To add to their suffering, a number of acquaintances and friends ridiculed their decision to go ahead with the pregnancy.

For their peers, it was incomprehensible that, in a society whose principal value is to avoid all types of pain, anyone would go ahead with a birth that would only end in a loss.

The Barretos discovered what it means to be a family, by ushering a new life into the world, albeit for a brief time.

As always, only a mother could express such a profound lesson in words: “I began to calm down and feel the same longing as during my other three pregnancies. I was bearing a life within me and I had to be grateful for it. I began to stop being afraid of what my baby would be like, and worrying about if I would be able to love him as much as my other children.”

Pedro José Barreto was born and baptized on August 30, 2003. The little guy was a fighter, and he hung on for 62 hours, “three days filled with giving, love and pain. I enjoyed him for such little time, but at least I can say that I had the blessing of holding him in my arms.”

The Barreto family grew more united as they stood by and watched their newest member slip into eternity. At least Mrs. Barreto could rest assured that she had loved her son, not for how he looked or what he would do for her, but simply because he was her child.

Pedro’s time on this earth was not the most pleasant, but at least he was born into a family that loved him. In the end, isn’t that what really matters?

-Information taken from ACI Digital, Nov. 23, 2005

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