The news reports about volleyball coach Tricia Roos and her personal struggle touch the heart because of the example of her young family during a very trying time. Roos coaches the girls’ volleyball team at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, Texas. This young woman, pregnant with her second child, was advised to abort her preborn baby girl when doctors found that the baby was affected by a severe chromosomal defect. But Roos, her husband Jonas, and her three-year-old son will fight for the life of their baby girl.
The baby has a chromosomal disorder identified as Trisomy 18—a condition that is terminal. According to medical wisdom, this little girl cannot live. One in 5,000 babies is born with this rare condition and most of those are female children. WebMD explains that, since there is no cure or effective treatment, less than 10 percent of those babies surviving birth with the condition live to see their first birthday.
So intense was the pressure from Roos’ doctors to abort her child that she didn’t even know keeping the baby was a possibility until mutual friends connected her with another local mother who had given birth to a Trisomy 18 baby against her doctor’s wishes. That baby lived six months, and her mother, Alison Stubing, told the Dallas News that the time she spent with her daughter was “a blessing.”
For Roos and her family, this is a challenge to be met, not ended with the intentional termination of the life of their little girl. According to the Dallas Morning News, “Roos, her husband, Jonas Roos, and her 3-year-old son, Cameron, are taking this difficult time day by day. But she is also choosing to share this personal struggle with others, taking the platform provided for her as a state champion coach to raise awareness about Trisomy 18.”
But perhaps the most remarkable part of this mother’s story is the message she shares with the girls she coaches as she presses on, having given her daughter the name of Annabelle and praying for a miracle. According to the local ABC affiliate news report on Roos, she is teaching and coaching even as she and her family confront the pain and heartache of the fate that most likely confronts their preborn daughter. “I’m teaching these kids to fight and never give up. . . . Why would I choose the easy road or to give up on something when my life is being challenged?”
This poignant human interest story teaches us one simple lesson: God does not promise that everything in this life will go according to OUR plan. Rather, He provides us with the ability to trust in His will and accept His gifts, even if we can hold on to them in this life for only a brief moment in time.
When we read of the courage exhibited by heroic people like the Roos family, each of us who profess our love and respect for the gift of life are reminded of the compassionate words of Saint John Paul II,
It is therefore a service of love [to] which we are all committed to ensure to our neighbor, that his or her life may be always defended and promoted, especially when it is weak or threatened.
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We are asked to love and honor the life of every man and woman and to work with perseverance and courage so that our time, marked by all too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love.
We praise God for Tricia Roos and her family. We thank her for coaching each of us by her personal witness that a culture of truth and of love begins with respect for the dignity of every single human being.
Please pray for the Roos family. May their courage continue to be a living witness to Christ and His gifts of selfless love and life.