December 11, 2020

‘The ultimate moment’: Parents overcome challenges in pregnancy to see their daughter confirmed in the faith

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson places chrism oil on the forehead of Taylor Borden in the sacrament of confirmation during a Nov. 1 Mass at St. Paul Church in Tell City. Taylor is a member of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Perry County. (Submitted photo by Danny Bolin)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson places chrism oil on the forehead of Taylor Borden in the sacrament of confirmation during a Nov. 1 Mass at St. Paul Church in Tell City. Taylor is a member of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Perry County. (Submitted photo by Danny Bolin)

By Sean Gallagher

On Nov. 1, Ryan and Sheila Borden witnessed their daughter Taylor receive the sacrament of confirmation during a Mass at St. Paul Church in Tell City.

Such a milestone in a child’s life of faith is an important moment for any parent.

But, for Ryan and Sheila, this moment in Taylor’s life was especially moving, rooted in a courageous decision they made while she was still growing in Sheila’s womb.

“All parents are proud of their children,” Sheila said. “But I feel extra blessed because, looking back, we may not have had this opportunity.

“A lot of times in life we take things for granted. We just assume that everything is going to be picture perfect. But it always isn’t.”

‘The ultimate moment’

In October 2004, Sheila was five months pregnant with her daughter Taylor when blood test results indicated that her unborn child had trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that results in severe birth defects and often a life span of less than a year.

A subsequent ultrasound confirmed for Sheila’s doctors the blood test’s results. A later amniocentesis test showed no signs of the disorder.

But Ryan and Sheila were still faced with a choice that would put their pro-life convictions to the test.

After all, pre-natal diagnoses of trisomy 18 and Down syndrome have historically led to many abortions. But Ryan and Sheila held firm in their beliefs.

“We already knew what our decision was going to be,” Ryan said. “We weren’t going to have an abortion.”

Still, the future of Ryan, Sheila and their unborn child was shrouded in darkness and doubt. They needed spiritual support.

So, they asked their family, friends and fellow members of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Perry County to pray for them. Their pastor at the time, Benedictine Father Guy Mansini, said he would ask his fellow monks at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad to add their prayers.

“We asked the monks and family and friends to pray to give us strength, and to have God give us what he had planned for us with Taylor,” Ryan said.

For months, Ryan and Sheila waited to find out what that plan would be. Would Taylor be born with a condition that would cause her to suffer and live a short time? Or would she be born as a healthy baby?

As it turned out, the plan did not include trisomy 18. Taylor was perfectly healthy when she was born in February 2005.

Sheila had a terrific weight lifted off her shoulders when the nurses and doctor told her that Taylor was a healthy baby. It was a weight that had laid heavily on her and Ryan ever since they had gotten the results of the blood test and ultrasound.

“It was definitely a relief,” said Sheila of Taylor’s birth. “It’s one of those things that I look back on now and think, ‘How did I ever survive?’ ”

“That was the ultimate moment,” Ryan recalled with emotion.

‘Now when I say I’m pro-life, I speak from my heart’

As anxious as those months were for Ryan and Sheila before Taylor’s birth, their experience of that time had a positive effect on them.

Raised as a Catholic, Sheila had taken the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life for granted. Not any more.

“Now when I say I’m pro-life, I speak from my heart,” Sheila said.

Ryan was received into the full communion of the Church at the time that he married Sheila. The test he faced a few years later in the months leading up to Taylor’s birth helped him embrace the faith even more.

“It really strengthened my faith in God,” he said. “I knew he would lead us in the right direction.”

It also was a tremendous support for him when he didn’t know how he would go on.

“The Church has taught basically from the foundation of Jesus’ teachings that life is precious,” Ryan said. “It really kept me from breaking down at that point in time.”

In the 15 years since Taylor’s birth, the Bordens have put their pro-life beliefs more at the center of their lives.

Ryan became a member of the Knights of Columbus and has worked to promote its support of the pro-life movement.

“The Knights, being as pro-life as they are, have helped me to keep that going on in my life,” said Ryan, who oversees programs for the Knights’ Indiana State Council that strengthens families.

A few years ago, they also attended the March for Life in Washington with Taylor and her younger sister, Regan.

“The Church, the Knights of Columbus and our faith community has poured this into us,” Ryan said. “We try to push it along to everybody else in the archdiocese and in especially in the [Tell City] Deanery.”

Ryan and Sheila want to encourage parents who are told that their unborn children might have Down syndrome or trisomy 18 because the abortion rate in such cases is high.

“My mom has always told me that God gives you nothing that you can’t handle,” Ryan said. “So, ask God for him to give you what he wants you to have. Don’t ask for what you want. God will make it happen the way it needs to happen.”

“Pray a lot,” Sheila said. “Tell your story so that other people will pray for you also. We had strangers praying for us. We probably had more people praying for us than we’ll ever know or understand.”

‘I knew they already showed me so much love’

It was around the time that the Borden family participated in the March for Life that Ryan and Sheila told Taylor about the decision they faced when she was an unborn child.

“I wanted to make sure that she was mature enough to understand,” Sheila said. “It was hard. She and her sister were in tears, knowing what choice we could have made that we didn’t make.”

Taylor was grateful to learn how much her parents loved her when she was growing in Sheila’s womb.

“I knew that they already showed me so much love before any of this happened,” Taylor said of the time before her parents learned of the test results. “I know it [grew] stronger when they heard about it, and they were already so protective of me.”

Since receiving the sacrament of confirmation from Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Taylor now is thinking of how she might live out her faith like her parents have.

“That day [holds] a special place in my heart,” she said of the day when she was confirmed. “I was very blessed to receive this special sacrament [that will help me] keep close to God, always go to church and lead my kids to do the same someday.” †

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