If They Had a Voice

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Video Created by Kaymee Ladas for iftheyhadavoice.org

      Right now a mother has been asked to make a choice.  She must decide to either keep or abort a child that is different from her original plan.  This baby will always be different and there is nothing she can do to change that fact.  What has the doctor told her about this unborn child?  Will she choose to take a different path or listen to society that says a Down syndrome child is already broken at birth?  The hardest day of her life has suddenly been filled with everyone telling her that aborting this child would be best for her family.

      I believed this lie for an entire year.  An entire year of fatherhood was taken from me because I could only see my daughter as a disabled child that I had created.   The happy moments I should have been enjoying the first year were masked by a deep depression that included thoughts of divorce and suicide.  For 30 years I had believed a lie that special needs children were nothing more than a burden on their families and society.  BUT my wife and daughter did not give up on me.  My one-year-old daughter refused to stop loving me.  She appeared to be like every other child but that voice kept telling me she was different.  Finally after a year of depression something happened that spoke to my soul.  My daughter leaned over and gave me a kiss suddenly without any warning.  At that moment I knew my daughter needed a father and not another doubter.

jack barr copy      Every mother must make a choice and I respect that difficult process.  BUT I want every expectant mother to hear both sides of the story.  Raising any child is difficult.  BUT I can promise you that it makes me sick to think what beautiful moments I would have missed these past two years if I had taken a different path than staying with my daughter. 

– Jack Barr Jr.

 Save A Life By Sharing The Movement!


  1. Beautiful testimony. Thanks Jack.

  2. I love the testimony .im proud of you .and i can tell you that the closer you are to God the harder the devil will try to manupulate you .much love from Eric n Lil Macie Barr

  3. You guys rock!! I love this.

  4. Sarah Faulkenberry says:

    I am so proud of the road you’ve taken and the man you’ve become! I always knew it was in you -
    Sarah Young Faulkenberry

  5. I assure you Jack and Jana are seeing your comments and appreciate your support. They will respond soon. ~FaVe Mom aka Webmaster~

  6. This is a beautiful God-story. Thank you for opening up your lives!

  7. valerie says:

    Y’all are really strong !!! Keep up the good work raising that beautiful baby girl :) – val:)

  8. Thank you for being so honest and open. I hope your testimony reaches far and touches many hearts, as it did mine. God bless your family.

  9. Allison says:

    I just read your story on CNN. Beautiful story, sitting here at work with tears in my eyes, and what a gorgeous daughter.

  10. Thank you for the comments and interest in our story.

  11. You are a brave soul to be truthful about your feelings. Your daughter is beautiful !! Children are a blessing and bring so much joy to our lives. I hope this gives hope to all other families going through such difficult times. God bless you all.

  12. Truly a beautiful little girl – you are more than blessed…thank you for sharing your story.

  13. I love this. Thank you

  14. This is amazing…thank you for sharing Marley with the rest of us and showing us how incredible children can be and what an impact their tiny little bodies can have on everyone of us!!!

  15. Beautiful story, so glad you have come to accept your adorable daughter. Since kindergarten my soon-to-be 5th grader has had a girl with Downs in her class. She has taught the kids, teachers and parents so much. She is loved and accepted by the entire school. She even did a solo dance in our school talent show, she stole the show! As we live in Quebéc our school is bi-lingual French/Eng and she learns in both languages just like everyone else. All this to say your daughter is a blessing and a gift. Enjoy her!

  16. I’m a man that cries at nothing. No weeping when I hurt, no tears when I watch a sappy movie, no sobs when a pet dies. But this, this slideshow of words brought me to uncontrollable tears. I want to thank you for your story and thank you for giving me a new outlook on my children (who have nothing wrong) and my unborn, that the consideration of aborting due to money and time constraints passed my wife’s and my mind… I will never look at my children with anger or regrets, and thought of aborting will never cross my mind again. Thank you! Your daughter is beautiful and you are a man, when even at his darkest hour, decided YOU were needed for the little one looking at you know! My children are 5.5yrs, 2.5yrs, and 4 months with my fourth on his or her way!

  17. she’s gonna make you guys proud someday

  18. I read your story on CNN and just wanted to say it takes a brave and strong man to admit his own failings and take steps to do something about them. Marley is a lucky child to have such has a good dad to teach her about how to be a good adult. Best wishes to you and your family on the journey.

  19. Christine says:

    Dear Jack & Jana,

    I came upon your website via CNN. Although I am a pro-choice Christian who has two friends (that I know of) who terminated pregnancies due to the Down Syndrome diagnosis, I very much value what you are doing with this site. It provokes a lot of thought and inner turmoil, but I think that’s what God wants for us. I don’t think Christians all need to agree on every issue, but stories like yours are beautiful because they are honest and true, and they may shape the decisions of people (even someone like myself) in the future.

    Most of all, thank you for introducing your daughter to us. A lot of people on the CNN site who left comments could not comprehend why/how you could say that God gave your daughter to you as a gift, but a Christian can understand that paradox and that particular mystery. You are blessed to have Marley as your daughter. And we within Christ’s church are blessed to have people like you who are open & vulnerable & real about your life story.

    Christine, from California

    • Thank you. We truly believe that Marley is a blessing and a gift and she has made our lives better. Thanks for visiting our site via the CNN article!

  20. Just A Mom says:

    One of my employees has an adult brother with Down Syndrome. He lives with her and attends a supervised work site and spends the last hour of the day in our office lobby waiting on her to get off work. Because we live in a small town, he knows almost everyone and shakes hands or hugs everyone who comes in. He visits with all of us and has special nicknames for everybody. He always has a story to tell or something to show us that his sister is going to order him off the computer. Right now, he’s eagerly awaiting his new Chicago Bulls hat she has ordered for him, getting ready to go to camp, and to spend a week with his sister in Dallas so he can swim in her pool everyday. I can tell you that the end of a hard, stressful day, to see his smile and get a hug…it makes me leave the office everyday with a smile and thankful that his mother made the choice to have him and keep him although her doctor recommended he be put in an institution. Your daughter is beautiful and I am so inspired by you and your wife and your efforts to tell “the other side” of the story. Keep up the good work. May God continue to bless your great family!

  21. I’m glad CNN brought me here. Thanks for sharing your story and creating this web site and ministry.

  22. I’m so thankful you made this video. I am 37 years old and am pregnant. I have been debating whether to go through the risk of having amniocentesis to check for DS and was seriously deciding what I would do if I found out that I am going to have a baby with DS. After watching this video today and reading the story CNN posted on Facebook a while ago, I know that I was led here for a reason. I have just cried like a baby watching this video, and there is no way that I will even have the testing done now. There is really no need in it because I know what I would do in the end anyway if the testing came back positive. Thank you so much for creating this site and making this video because without it, I would still be in the dark.

  23. marie helene says:

    I am glad it helped you go through the hardship but I find this video moralistic and judgemental. I had to make a choice and it is never easy to get an abortion. I think this is the best decision I made in my life! Let people judge what is good for them. And leave God out of it.

    • Our goal is not to pass judgement on others, but instead to encourage others to seek out families who have a child with Down Syndrome and hear both sides. We feel that we were not given a fair assessment of what our life would be like when we received the diagnosis. So we are just hoping that expectant mothers can hear the good along with the bad. Thank you for sharing your comment.

  24. Thank you for the tears of happiness and for truly being a FATHER and a MOTHER

  25. Just read about your family’s story on CNN.com and your feelings really do run the gammut. My son is now 32 and amazes me with what he knows. He is an eagle scout, graduated high school in 2000, and has worked for
    over 12 years. In many ways he made our family what it is today. My son is the middle child and it is very apparent that he taught them a thing or two about work ethic, compassion, and family. Hang in there. I know it has been tough, but believe me, it is worth it. Just think, God really does have a sense of humor. take care.

  26. I just read your story on CNN, it’s a moving and inspiring story. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share. My sister has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, and I’m happy to say that at the age of 26 is a productive member of society working to deliver food for meals on wheels, working on a farm, and being an active special olympics athlete. Her birth changed our entire family, and allowed us to grow in ways we never could have imagined. She is truly blessing in our life.

    Marley looks like such a sweet girl! Good luck keeping up with her!

  27. That was brave, so many times in our lives we look back on how God changed our hearts and we notice the journey He put us on BUT we don’t share with those around us due to fear. I am glad God gave you the strength to stay with your beautiful family. When your daughter is older, she will be thankful for your honestly and that you stayed true to your commitment to your family and God. I am sure you have changed a lot of lives with this video – in so many ways.
    God Bless your family!

  28. Thank you for sharing this amazing story Jack. Marley is a beautiful little girl and although there will be struggles down the road there are going to so many more blessings and fantastic moments that will outweigh the tough times.
    I am so happy for you that you decided to stay and receive the love that Marley can give you.
    Hugs to you all.

  29. As a Special Education Director I work with children with many different types of disabilities on a daily basis. Over my career I have learned that each child brings with them unique gifts and a heart full of love. I understand the challenges of raising a child with a disability as well. My husband and I are parents to an 18 year old Down’s Syndrome son. Ray plays drums in the school band, is on the yearbok staff and loves action figures. He is a joy and he can be a typical teenage boy. Thank you for sharing your story. Take one day at a time, seek support systems and remember, you are not alone. These children are given to us for a reason and I have found that they teach me lessons everyday.

  30. Beautiful video! Yes, our children with Down Syndrome are gifts from God, but just as important is that God chose you to be the parents. We felt blessed and honored that God believed in us and loved us so much that we would be great parents to take care of his child while he was here on earth. It is a honor that we cherished everyday.

    (Another organization, if you have not heard about them, is Reece’s Rainbow. This organization is an adoption agency for children with Down Syndrome, from other countries, who were born and given up.)

    Blessing to you and your family!

  31. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to publically address such a hot button issue like abortion. However, the sad statistic that 90% of babies with Downs Syndrome are aborted goes beyond the typical abortion debates. It is a sign of our culture and how we view the disabled. There is great value in the life of a disabled person (as my beautiful son shows our family). I hope your video reaches many people. Thanks.

  32. Marie Peeters-Ney says:

    Dr. Marie Peeters-Ney I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your testimony. May God continue to bless your little family and may He grant you other children. I had the privilege of working with Professor Lejeune who discovered Down’s syndrome (the chromosomal basis) and of living in a L’Arche Community (Jean Vanier). People with a disability are essential in our world and our world would be a sad place without them and all that they give and teach us…. of course being a parent is never easy! So thank you again and again! Marie


  34. Elwyn Williams says:

    I am a devout Christian who believes that God made us the way we are so that we can make our own choices. Your endorsement by National Right to Life casts doubt on your commitment to giving families a choice on whether or not to have a child who is disabled as this organization seeks to force women to produce children they do not want for whatever reason. That’s not choice — that’s coercion. I ask anyone who believes women should be forced to bear children: would you want to be FORCED to abort? I don’t think so. So please follow Christ’s teachings and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s the Christian way.

    • Thank you for your comment. We have no “agenda” other than to encourage moms to hear from others who have a child with Down Syndrome before making their decision. We are just thankful for anyone who wants to share our message.

  35. Hi Jack, we are the proud parents of a five year old with Cerebral Palsy. I can tell you honestly that i remember very little from the first two years after we found out something was wrong. Our lives became a whirlwind of tests and therapy, meeting with different doctors including a neurologist, kinetics doctor, and a geneticist. I think we all bounced between wanting to change the way things are and accepting the way things are. I had people tell me , as some have told you, that “God gives these children to special parents”, but then i had other people tell me that she was the “product of a terrible sin that i am hiding”. I have had people tell me that “everything will be alright” and “you are doing a great job”, but also “wait until you get to the minstrel cycle stage” and “why are you not doing this or that”. It has been a roller coaster to say the least and for a couple of years we were just stumbling around in the fog. She cannot sit up, or talk, or walk, but she puts her little arms around my neck and hugs with such a vice grip hug, and still kisses my check with her mouth open as babies do. I marvel at some of the things that make her such a typical five year old and so human. My little girl will choose pink every time over any other color, she does not like the taste of squash, but we tell her she has to eat it because it is good for her, her favorite princess is Cinderella and she loves “My Little Pony”, she loves to swim, she loves to be outside, she likes looking at babies, but wants to play with the older girls because it makes her feel older, she likes dressing in pretty outfits, but wants to wear her prettiest dresses to go ride her adaptive bike or some other activity where she might get them dirty, but she does not care because she is only five and does not understand yet the reason she cannot get what she wants. I have even come to marvel at her differences: yesterday she learned how to sign “bath” and “crazy” calling her teen sister crazy and then laughing about it. She is so determined, just so determined to keep pace with the world around her, she does not understand “quit” or “i can’t”.
    I have felt sadness, and anger over my daughter, but i have also experienced a powerful love. Maybe this is just what i needed to be more humble in the world, to see other people not for their differences and what they can’t do, but to see the world at a different angle and look for ways that people can relate to each other and see their worth and what they can contribute to this world. i have also seen my own disabilities, my own short comings, but see that i too have something that i am required to give back to the world.
    Congratulations on becoming the father of a perfect human being, as i have now come to realize that “perfect” is just a matter of perspective.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. I have been amazed at my own transformation through this process and have been greatly humbled through it all. Congratulations on your journey, as well.

  36. I could barely read the precious story in your video because of all the tears! Very well said. We have felt those same words too. We have a 4 yr old girl with Down syndrome. Also, Sevenly.com is selling beautiful t-shirts to raise $ for a Ds book to give out to new families in the hospitals. Go see them!

    • Thanks! We will certainly check that out. When parents receive the diagnosis, they need to hear how great things will be instead of just only about the challenges they will face.

  37. Paula M-B says:

    I just wanted to say that I’m not only an atheist but am also strongly pro-choice. However, I think what you are doing here is truly amazing. What a beautiful gift you have given your daughter — to let parents see all of the positives of raising a child with Downs. Both sides of the coin should be looked at in any important decision. Thank-you for so openly sharing your struggles and shining light on such an important topic. Your message is shared without judgement or criticism.

    • Thank you! That is our hope. Our only “agenda” is that parents faced with this choice hear voices other than the “doom & gloom”. We wanted to share how Marley has made our lives better, not worse!

  38. What a beautiful video. Thank you.

  39. Thank you for having the courage to share your story…I am moved to tears. How amazing that you realize that your daughter, with all her imperfections, was an incredible gift given to you by God. And your life will never be the same. Aren’t we all like that? …made with imperfections and yet God, who made us sees us as precious not disabled. God has used you to be her voice… well done.

  40. I love my sister with Downs Syndrome. She is a union member, working at Alberson’s for 13 years. She is a multi-medal Special Olympic champion, including taking gold in track and field in the World Games in Athens Greece. She is in the Silicon Valley Sports Hall of Fame, she is a Special O ambassador, and she is is a performer in the group The Rhythm Makers. She is funny, and loving, and moody, and emotional. She is a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a woman. She was born in 67. My mom was told to leaver her at the hospital, that she’d never have a life. My mom took my sister home, scared to death, had her husband leave her, and then started a life of assertive advocacy for Stacey. My mom pushed, and still does, for all Downs kids, and other kids with “special features” to have a full life. These people…of all ages, aren’t disabled…they are uniquely-abled. Great story, lovely little girl, and brave parents. Love to you all!

  41. Jack, I got tears when i read your story. Later on going towards end of the story i felt how dumb i am and a man like you doing such a good wonderful thing for a lovely kid and to others. Marley, she is adorable. I got a result for my baby DS 1 in 101 chance. The moment the doctor called and told me i felt i was no where in the world but me and my wife prayed god and later diagnosis thought he was ok, I can’t say now what if it would have happened to me but you are role model to many parents who have DS baby.

    God bless you and your family.

  42. Jack, you are a REAL MAN. We have a very special place in our hearts for these beautiful children, don’t know why, but always brings me to tears. You, my brother, are a real, authentic Christian man. God bless you on this beautiful journey with Marley. She is someone the Lord specially knit together just for His pleasure and yours…. You are blessed. WOW.

  43. Todd Hurd says:

    I was embarrassed by a stray tear as I watched the video. When I turned around my son and wife were staring at me. Thanks a lot. Amazing that CNN is putting out such a story of consequence.

  44. Thank you Jack for your heart touching story. I normally don’t read CNN news but I felt the need to today. Thank God I did and I luckily found your story which I cried all through and more so when I saw the pictures of your gorgeous Marley. I am sharing your page so many others can enjoy your beautiful story.

  45. I’m an expectant father and my first child- a girl, is due this September. The doctor asked us whether or not we wanted to test for DS, but we declined because we knew we would keep and love our child no matter what.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  46. I am in tears right now. So beautiful. My little girl just turned one and also happens to have Down syndrome. She is the most amazing little girl and I wouldn’t change her for the world. I wish all women that were given a prenatal diagnosis had to watch this video. So powerful. Thank you!

  47. linda Lovenstein says:

    God knows how to place things and people in your life at just the right time. I needed to read your story and your testemony and will be sharing it with a very dear friend. She is waiting for her genetic testing to come back. She is already in love with her “Sophia” and has decided to move forward regardless. EVERY CHILD is a blessing…Thanks for sharing

  48. Jasmine says:

    I read your story on CNN. You are exceptional parents to a beautiful little girl. How proud you must be of her!! I have taught children with exceptionalities since 2002…I’ve been taught a lot by my students as well. :) Enjoy the love and laughter!

  49. patricia says:

    Like someone who replied earlier, I never go to CNN, but did today. I’m so glad I did. Your story moved me so much. Thanks for the life lesson.

  50. Melissa Broadhurst says:

    I just read your story on CNN and clicked on the link that took me to this page. Although I don’t have a child with DS, I have a cousin that is now in his 20′s with it. And he is the MOST loving and MOST generous person I have ever met. My daughter use to babysit a little girl with DS and would send me texts with pics of them reading, playing, etc. I would absolutely bring tears to my eyes. And when I read your story, I just couldn’t stop crying. Your daughter is so beautiful and precious. She is such a wonderful blessing.

  51. Go Bucky 773 says:

    Thank you for the courage to post these messages. It takes so much humility to share your story and your struggle. You are an inspiration to many—as I believe God intended you to be! May you, your wonderful child and your patient wife, be blessed beyond measure. And may we all realize that life is always a gift, regardless of whether our society views it as ideal or “perfect”.

  52. Cried towards the end of the video. It’s a beautiful tribute to some really special souls, one of them of my little boy. Your emotional anguish is real and the simple joys a cause for celebration, making life with a child with Down syndrome so bittersweet. I too asked God “why” but from the moment I held his little hand, I told myself that I will love my little boy with Down syndrome just like my other kids…maybe even more so, actually! And yes, I do need to believe that I need God, because only He can help us be more than ourselves, help us with the “impossibles” in ignoring the standards of the world and help these special children live happy lives, just like any other child.

  53. What a beautiful story…I was born with deformities on both hands and both feet. I was adopted by great people that I love dearly. I can relate a lot to what its like to be different. And how essential it is to have someone to love you and treat you like anyone else. I didnt ask to be born like this , as your daughter didnt as well. We may be different but all we want is love and acceptance. Your story brought tears to my eyes…the love you have for your daughter even though she is “different” according to the outside world not only fills your heart up..but it makes hers overflowing. Growing up was hard for me and it still is at times ,but with the love that I have around me…none of that matters…Bless your amazing family..

  54. Jack, this is an amazing video. I would like to share it on my Son’s website. He too has DS and is almost a year and a half old. His name is Hunter. I went through many of the same emotions as you did, and I felt like an utter failure as a mother. It took me almost 8 months to develop a bond with him, and I feel like I cheated myself out of some amazing things. He is a wonderful little boy, so sweet, happy and thankfully, very forgiving. Bless you and your little Marley! If you are on Facebook, please come over and see Hunter! https://www.facebook.com/HelloHunter

    Thanks for everything you are doing to raise awareness about how wonderful these kiddos are. Hunter is NOT a burden. He is my son, and I love him. I would love to be able to show him to every mother who has to make this decision. One of his beautiful smiles and giant kisses would melt even the most frozen of hearts.

    • Thank you for the email and feel free to share our video and site with your video. I am on Facebook and will check out your page later today.

  55. I’m happy that you realize your daughter is a gift. My ex did not and left. I am still raising my twins (one with Down’s one normal). If someone asked me if I would do it again, I do not know what the answer would be, but I would not judge unless I had lived it, and I have.

  56. Shirley Perona says:

    Jack & Jana – On Dec. 6, 1962 [my birthday] my son Paul was born with DS and at that time there weren’t the opportunities that are available now. Last Dec. he turned 50 and is loved by everyone who knows him. He works as a greeter at the local Walmart, has his own apartment, is a Deacon and head usher in our Presbyterian Church, and can do simple addition and read the printed words. He has been blessed with a terrific personality and is on Facebook. He has his limitations but is a blessing to everyone who knows him. Enjoy your gift from God!

  57. hola me llamo xochitl y tengo un nene con síndrome esta muy malito dos infartos un derrame pulmonar parapléjico parte de su cuerpo lo amo y temo por su vida necesito platicar con alguien que me entienda este angelito es lo mejor de mi vida

  58. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story! As a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, I know first hand that our children are gifts from God! My son is 14 and has taught us so much about love, life, faith, and perseverance! At times the journey has been difficult, but never once have I doubted that it was worth every moment! Our children need us to be their voice so that the world can see them through eyes that aren’t clouded with misinformation and fear of the “what ifs”. Thank you for starting an incredible movement that I hope will educate and teach.

  59. Children are a gift From GOD…..I am so happy you all gave her a chance to live!!!! She is aBlessing To You & your family!!!!!!! Continue to be ENCOURAGED!!!!

  60. The video brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. I always feared having a child with Down syndrome before, that is less now.

  61. Gracias por este precioso video que va a hacer mucho bien. Tengo un hijo con sindrome de down y quiero hacer lo mismo pero en español. Les mandaria una copia para que lo vean y me gustaria saber el titulo y autor de la cancion.

  62. My mom’s younger sister had Down Syndrome. They grew up in the 60s and 70s when there were still a lot of misconceptions about it and people back then would say ‘mongoloid’ and ‘retarded’ to describe people like her. Luckily our aunt was able to grow up in a supportive environment and we all considered her our little angel. She was always the candid one, saying out loud things we just silently thought. She loved to laugh and dance. She would throw a quick tantrum and then get back to what she was busy with. She had a funny nickname for everyone. She lived until her mid-fifties and we, all the nieces and nephews that she left behind, still miss her a lot. She was a happy part of our growing up years.

    Blessings to your family and your little one.

  63. Robin black says:

    Whenever life gets little harder please keep in mind there are millions who r inspired by you and rooting for you. A chance at life, that’s the greatest gift in this world. Who r we to deny anybody that opportunity ? We r proud of you Jack . Light up ur life and millions around the world.

  64. I just saw a blurb of your story on a cnn.com feature story on unforgettable Personal Essays of this past year. I was so intrigued that I had to look up your story. I have just viewed your video and, as with other commenters, was moved to tears. I have a 17 year old daughter that lives with Neurofibromatosis (NF1). It is a wide ranging genetic condition, but in a nutshell the chromosome that controls the growth of cells is missing resulting in the growth of external and internal tumors. In addition to health issues, it can be quite disfiguring and a large number of people also have learning problems. My daughter has a more pressing form of the disorder (she just had spinal tumors removed in October that we’re robbing her of her mobility by the incomparable Dr. Allan Friedman of Duke University) , and she is on the autism spectrum as well. I was recently asked by another new found friend living with NF if I blamed God for her condition. My response was this: I had to be honest and admit that I did at one time question God, but it was a purely selfish ask based on the fantasies of the child I thought I would receive. I had to come to terms with the fact that I did not create her-He did. And anytime I have particularly challenging moments with her, who she is, and who I “wanted” her to be, I refer to 1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with Thanksgiving.” We prayed for a daughter and got one. The package of the gift may not be what I expected, but when I consider the treasure she is on the inside, this genuinely kind and gently spirit with a smile to rival the sun and who loves her mother unconditionally, I can’t help but be thankful to Him and take care of the gift I’ve been given.

    It seems you’ve come to this same epiphany as well. Your daughter is an absolute beauty. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your story and her voice. You have put any spur in my side to be a greater voice for my daughter and those living with NF.

    May God continue to cover you and yours in His love and grace in this new year and beyond-

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