Choosing Naia by Mitchell Zuckoff
A Family's Journey

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A powerful story, based on an award-winning series of articles, about a modern family and Down syndrome

Halfway through their first pregnancy, Greg and Tierney Fairchild hear the news all expectant parents dread: their baby isn't perfect. A routine ultrasound reveals that the fetus Tierney carries has a major heart defect. Making matters worse, the nature of the defect leads doctors to suspect it might be a symptom of Down syndrome. With those events as its starting point, Choosing Naia examines the exploding world of prenatal information—and the emotional maelstrom that ensues from an unwanted test result—through the prism of the Fairchild family's experiences.

Rapid advances in prenatal testing are enabling doctors to diagnose with great certainty a wide assortment of problems inside the womb. But that's where certainty ends. As they struggle with grief and confusion, would-be parents have only days or weeks to make choices—abortion, adoption, or continuing the pregnancy and keeping the child—whose reverberations are bound to alter the course of many lives.

In the Fairchilds' case, those choices are further complicated by race. Having married across racial lines, Greg and Tierney can imagine the discrimination felt by the disabled. Ultimately, that understanding informs their decision about whether and how to parent a disabled child. Once the choice is made, they face a difficult delivery, where Tierney's vigilance literally saves her baby's life, and high-risk open-heart surgery before the baby they name Naia can celebrate her first birthday. After clearing those hurdles, the Fairchilds face new barriers they must tear down on behalf of their beloved child for all the days of their lives.

Mitchell Zuckoff won the 2000 Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors for his series "Choosing Naia," which also was honored by the National Down Syndrome Congress and the American Association on Mental Retardation.

About Mitchell Zuckoff

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Mitchell Zuckoff received a master's degree from the University of Missouri and was a Batten Fellow at the Darden School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. He is currently a professor of journalism at Boston University. He has written several books including Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II, Robert Altman: The Oral Biography, Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, and Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders with Dick Lehr. His work Choosing Naia: A Family's Journey received the Christopher Award. His articles have appeared in several publications including The New Yorker and Fortune. He use to work as a special projects reporter for The Boston Globe. He received the Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Livingston Award for International Reporting, the Heywood Broun Award, and the Associated Press Managing Editors' Public Service Award.
Published October 21, 2002 by Beacon Press. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A meticulously researched, empathetic account, expanded from a series Zuckoff wrote for the Boston Globe, about a young couple’s decision to continue with a pregnancy after they learned the baby had Down’s syndrome.

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Publishers Weekly

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After Naia's birth, the Fairchilds struggle to keep her alive and fight to strengthen her for heart surgery, while working to develop her social and mental skills to the best of her abilities, which turn out to be great indeed.

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