Karl Emil was diagnosed after he was born. Grete remembers how fragile he felt in her arms and how she worried about his health, but mostly, she remembers, "I thought he was so cute." Two years later, in 2004, Denmark became one of the first countries in the world to offer prenatal Down syndrome screening to every pregnant woman, regardless of age or other risk factors. Nearly all expecting mothers choose to take the test; of those who get a Down syndrome diagnosis, more than 95 percent choose to abort.
His notebooks are full of poetry written in his careful, sturdy handwriting. He loves music – his gold-rimmed glasses are modeled after his favorite Danish pop star’s. He gets cranky sometimes, like all teens do.
He could tell he was different. "He asked me, if it was because of Down syndrome that he sometimes didn’t understand things." As he’s gotten older, she said, he has found his peace with it.
The Atlantic, № 10 / 2020
Text: Sarah Zhang
Director of Photography: Luise Stauss
Photo Editor: Christine Walsh