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Bellas Gift As a lifelong Pennsylvania resident Rick Santorum's name is familiar to me I remember his first win for the House he stood out to me as a great candidate for families with his Pro Life stance obvious moral compass After reading 'Bella's Gift' I see my initial opinion of his character was rightWhether or not you back the Santorums politically all will agree that their family doesn't just talk the talk They live their faith Beautifully honest Bella's life journey is told with integrity While maintaining a family of eight children the Santorums brave the ups downs of parenting a special needs child This darling little angel was born with a condition known as Trisomy 18 or Edward’s Syndrome Very few of the children born with this illness make it to age one Doctors informed them that they needed to prepare for her impending death They believed otherwise Fighting for Bella's rights they navigate the often complicated medical system Relying on God to guide them in their parenting Rick Karen are not just role models for special needs parents they're role model for parents of every child Beating the odds just seemed to come naturally for themFollow the dynamic story of a family overcoming the odds to celebrate their miracle girl It is a must read for every parent of any faith If you aren't yet a parent their story will give you a total new respect for those who are parents I highly recommend reading it You'll be very glad you did It's absolutely a 5 star piece What I learned after pushing through 200 pages about Trisomy 18 was marginal Hence my disappointment What the reader learns about Bella can barely fill one chapter The remainder of the story is repetitive political script and redundant scriptures These parents capitalize on their child's genetics; yet barely delve into Bella's life Instead they repeatedly chastise the medical professionals with whom they initially meet and in what feels like a paid advertisement sing high praise for the staff at CHOP The one redeeming aspect of the Santorum family story is the close relationship and bond the children have with one another and Bella Save your money; read your Bible Story of this nearby Northern Virginia family with 8 children one whom they lost when born too early and one who was born with an extra 18th chromosome called Trisomy 18 This book especially Karen’s sections spoke to me as a mother referencing all of the hard work wear and tear and just pure grunt work that you put in trying to create a supportive and healthy family life for your children and how you often feel like you are just not doing enough or not doing it right I had not previously known that Karen had been a NICU nurse as well as a lawyer before having children; truly her medical training sounds like it saved Bella’s life than once I know I myself often feel overwhelmed when sent home from the hospital after my children's surgeries; sometimes I feel that a basic 6 month medical training course should be a prereuisite before you have to become a mom I took away the reminder to lean on God to realize that these children were given to us by Him and He is helping me – it is a team effort here – it’s not just my husband and I here in the trenches by ourselves and to nurture my relationship with my husband What if the death sentence of Trisomy 18 was not in the condition but in the diagnosis? In this modern age of medicine who gets to decide what conditions and people are compatible with life? What do those with disabilities who will never be able to do anything for anyone have to teach us? And what does the way we treat them have to say about our society? These are the uestions asked and answered in this compelling and mostly well written memoir It was a fascinating and brisk read mostly well edited and told with a lot of raw emotion I know it's just a memoir but I would have loved some statistics on Trisomy 18 children born with disabilitiesand hospitals that excel at treatment besides the few mentioned With a bit careful editing a few stories and sentiments were repeated redundantly this would have been a five star review If I could give it 4 12 that would be the most accurate Highly recommend Writing wise could have used a bit editing down but it was encouraging to read about a child with t18 who has lived well beyond the odds Loved the family’s story and their love and dedication to their daughter A really needed light in a world that often sees people’s worth as directly related to their abilities and “contributions” to society I would give the content stars but the format was a bit difficult to read I wish it was chronological Due to some chapters written by Karen and some by Rick there ended up being a lot of repeat of stories and thoughts and at times it was either confusing because if wasn’t at first obvious a story was about the same incident mentioned earlier or redundant The writing was also a bit awkward at points Review of Bella's Gift by Rick and Karen Santorum From On May 13 2008 the Santorum family welcomed their eighth child into the world Isabella Maria was born with a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18 or Edward's Syndrome Only 10 percent of children with Trisomy 18 are born alive and 90 percent of those children do not make it to their first birthday Faced with these bleak statistics doctors told the family to prepare for Bella's death Instead they chose to celebrate her lifeOver the next six miraculous years the Santorum family adjusted to life with a special needs girl—and watched her transform the lives of everyone around her In many days of sickness and joy she became an inspiration to her community and ultimately to the nation Bella’s Gift details the peaks and valleys the joys and sufferings and the incredible value of life with a special needs child In a world that often measures worth according to usefulness Bella’s story is a reminder that our real value lies in our capacity to loveAUTHORSKaren SantorumKaren Santorum is a former neonatal intensive care nurse and attorney She is the author of two books Letters to Gabriel and Everyday Graces A Child's Book of Good Manners Karen and her husband of almost twenty five years Rick are the parents of seven wonderful children Elizabeth John Daniel Sarah Maria Peter Patrick and Isabella Her greatest role and love in life is being a wife and motherFACEBOOKTWITTERRick SantorumRick Santorum a native of Pennsylvania was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2012 He served in the House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 and in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and is the author of several books including the 2005 New York Times bestseller It Takes a Family Rick's most important role and love in life is being a husband and fatherFACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAMPATRIOTVOICESPATRIOTVOICESPATRIOTVOICES Contributor Elizabeth SantorumElizabeth Santorum graduated magna cum laude from the University of Dallas During the 2012 Republican presidential primary she spent a year campaigning across the nation on behalf of her father Senator Rick Santorum Appearing on CNN Fox News NBC and many other news outlets at twenty years old she became one of the campaign's most reuested speakers Elizabeth has spent time doing mission work in Uganda is currently a John Jay Fellow and absolutely loves being a big sisterENDORSEMENTSMax Lucadopastor and best selling author of Before AmenLife takes sudden turns The horizon brings unexpected storms The road we walk is prone to go from smooth to rocky in a matter of steps No one is spared the difficult path Rick and Karen Santorum weren't The birth of their daughter Bella was a birth into a life they never asked to enter Their faith was tested their futures were rerouted And as a result of it all they are different people You know the Santorums as public figures in the halls of Congress and on the trails of a presidential campaign You are about to know them as parents of a special girl Their struggles fears faith and fortitude it's all in these pages I urge you to read this book Life takes sudden turns for all of us And we need wisdom from a family who has kept their balance and stayed on the roadJim Bob and Michelle Duggarparents on TLC's 19 Kids CountingWe love the Santorum family and the way they love children like God loves children Rick championed the bill to end partial birth abortion in America The Santorum family has tirelessly fought to return our nation back to the Christian values our country was founded upon Bella's Gift will inspire families and marriages to draw close to God through the joys and the hard times of lifeSean Hannitytelevision and radio host author and political commentatorI have gotten to know Rick Karen and their family really really well over the years This book is a love story from two parents who walk the walk as husband and wife father and mother In typical Santorum style they pull no punches but they will also pull at your heart and your soulGreta Van SusterenFox News Channel personalityBella’s father was a Fox News Contributor so I have known about this little child since the day she was born She is nothing short of amazing—she has beaten all odds This book is a touching love story about how this very challenged child enriched her family and anyone who meets her You will be enriched—and inspired—by reading her storyArchbishop Charles ChaputOne of the joys of being alive is to see love in action and the indelible mark it leaves on the world Karen and Rick Santorum have written the kind of extraordinary book about their daughter with special needs that moves the heart and stays in the memoryMichael G Lamb MD and Kathleen G Lamb MDBella Santorum's story is one that all medical professionals should read and profit from Her and her family's struggle besides being inspiring is also medically enlightening Too many members of her medical team assumed that her situation was hopeless This was not so much from a lack of caring as it was a lack of knowing A detailed careful reading of the medical literature on children with Trisomy 18 reveals that these children do not have the dismal outcomes that some so called experts claim In rare disorders like Bella's there really are no experts The ideal professional will yearn to become the expert seek the truth know the facts and assess the entire situation He or she needs to know in detail all about the child the medical condition and the family situation Only then is one able to really offer good care Unfortunately the tendency to 'write off' children like Bella is all too common in modern American medicine with its bottom line dollars and cents mentality Hopefully this book will help to change some of thatMark Levinlawyer author and host of The Mark Levin ShowBella’s Gift is a must read I've had the privilege of enjoying family dinners at the Santorum’s home with the entire family including Bella I've witnessed the love that she has for her family and they for her Bella’s story reminds us that love reuires sacrifice an idea that is becoming increasingly lost in our selfish society Read it You’ll be moved inspired and encouraged by the story of this little girl and her heroic familyGeorge F Willsyndicated columnistThe radiant truth about special needs children such as the Santorums’ Bella is that they give to those around them something that we all need This gift that suffuses every page of this marvelous book is the reminder that every life is sanctified by the capacity to receive and respond to love MEDIA INUIRIES For press inuiries regarding Bella's Gift please contactEmily Lineberger at emilylinebergerharpercollinscomCopyright © 2014 HarperCollins Publishers All rights reserved Privacy Policy | Terms of Use Leona's Review First no matter what your political views are this will touch the hearts of all A moving book about a little girl that has stolen the hearts of those who meet her and the ones who have seen her on TV or read her storyI knew that little Bella had this disease as she was in the news when her father was running for president He uit the race for his familyI lost my husband of almost 57 years of marriage in January and maybe this is one reason this book touched me so deeply Life is precious at any stage of life before and after birthThe descriptions of Bella giggling and her smile was visual The reader follows the struggle and tears of the family as well as the family fun times The Santorum have much faith in God even with the trials they have with a child who needs constant care Every other chapter is written by the parents of Bella When reading you want to reach out and give them a hug Each chapter begins with the word LOVEThere are pictures in the book which add to the feelings of the bookThe other children play an important part in the lives of their parents each other and Bella I saw this book offered to read and review on booklookbloggers I almost did not read it because of my stress at this time but I am so glad I did I really made the decision after I saw the Santorums and Bella on FOX than once I had to read a chapter of at a time but that Is OK It is a good family readThis would make a wonderful gift for parents who have a special need child I received a complimentary copy of Bella's Gift to read and review The opinions are my own Leona Olsonhttpwwwmnleonablogspotcom Rick and Karen Santorum's inspiring story of life with Bella their special needs youngest childFour days after At its best Bella's Gift is a remarkable story of how much work can go into the care of a disabled child Rick and Karen Santorum who mostly alternate writing the chapters are very open and direct in relating the struggles that they've gone through in caring for two children with disabilities They've seen both ends of the odds their son Gabriel was born prematurely and died in two hours; their daughter Bella diagnosed with Trisomy 18 and facing a literal 99% chance of death before her first birthday turned eight years old this month The parents' struggle is physical emotional and spiritual Karen an experienced pediatric nurse describes the logistical details that are necessary to care for Bella from tubes and a feeding button to the need to have someone available at all times to deal with a possible emergency The surprising emotional struggle comes in part from the uncertainty of Bella's condition and in part from medical professionals' freuent inability to deal with it While we might think of doctors as trained experts who know what to do the Santorums often encounter doctors who don't know enough about Bella's condition to know how to treat her or perhaps have seen so many of the 99% who die early that they have been conditioned to discourage all hope as false And the Santorums who experience an increasing interest in their Christian faith must juggle all their responsibilities and fears along with raising six other children and pursuing Rick's political career all the way to a serious run for the PresidencyIt is not all struggle for their family however Bella proves to be one of the few children with Trisomy 18 who survives and even thrives and between Rick's career Karen's nursing experience and their wide social network they have the resources to care for Bella By the Santorums' account including photos in the middle of the book Bella is a happy child and their family is a loving one The book's candor includes the moments of love and even humor along with the struggles and the mood is not darkNot all is uite well with the Santorums however Unfortunately their book reveals that both parents Karen even so than Rick have difficulty accepting that someone can disagree with them without being an enemy sometimes even each other At one point they even expressly divide their doctors into allies and enemies Karen is uick to see any doctor who is not supportive of Bella's chances as malicious giving them nicknames such as Iceman and Dr Grim It's understandable why she would feel that way at the time as she faced an uphill battle even within her marriage to fight for Bella against the odds but even in hindsight she accuses the doctors of having a callous attitude toward life without asking whether maybe the doctors have just seen so many children die young that they have become wary of encouraging false hope as Rick later admits of himself in Bella's first few months of life And of course as Rick is a politician he can't get through the book without claiming that people who disagree with him politically are creating a culture of death with disregard for any human life that isn't useful Politics are the dark cloud hanging over this book The Santorums manage to avoid politics for most of the book and when they keep the story personal it's at its strongest But to a reader like me who is not a conservative Republican or a liberal Democrat for that matter the Santorums' politics seem out of sync with their personal experience and values For example they mention that most parents with children like Gabriel and Bella choose abortion but instead of being grateful that the government didn't force them into abortions against their will they support laws to put the decision into the government's hands They say that human lives shouldn't be judged on usefulness but they've been part of a political movement that demonizes people who are in need of help And after the Santorums recount the obstacles placed in their way by the American for profit health care system they rail against the Affordable Care Act ACA the most significant recent attempt to reform the system to make health care available to all Americans Thanks especially to the Medicaid expansion millions of Americans can now see a doctor for the first time in years yet the Santorums who you would expect to be among ACA's most fervent supporters cite opposition to it as their primary reason for Rick to run for President It appears that the Santorums are just temperamentally unsuited for politics They do not handle disagreement well even uestioning their own marriage if briefly when they disagree about Bella's care And while they are happy and lucky to have the freedom to make their own decisions on Bella's behalf they do not respect that same freedom in other people and do not believe that people who make a different decision are even taking it seriously In the end the most insightful comment in the book comes in the Introduction by their adult daughter Elizabeth My shallow understanding of love was challenged and deepened when Bella was born I initially feared this dependency of Bella's partially out of selfishness and partially out of unfamiliarity It appears that Rick and Karen Santorum still struggle with this problem they love their daughter Bella as a family member but they have difficulty extending that selfless love to people outside their inner circleWe all have flaws of course and if the Santorums aren't really made for politics there are other ways to serve And to their credit while they may not have perfect self knowledge who does? they are as honest about themselves in this book as anyone is able to be And that honesty lifts Bella's Gift above mere inspiration into a genuine look at human struggle and reward Bella was born into the right family For anyone who has a child with special needs or wants to know what life is like inside that world and desires to gain compassion for the parents and children who are affected by living daily with special needs this book is a delight and a gem

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