I am totally floored. The playwright Arthur Miller had a son with Down Syndrome in 1966 who he never publicly acknowledged and all but wrote out of his life. [What an odd choice of words, under the circumstances.] The boy, Daniel, was sent to an institution when he was one week old. He's 41 now, and doing remarkably well.
Vanity Fair has an article about the story:
Miller loved his older children, his sister says, "but Rebecca [his daughter with his third wife, photographer Inge Morath] was special."I can't figure out what to think; part of me is outraged, part is gut-wrenched, and part of me thinks its none of anyone's damn business, especially if Miller's other children don't want their family discussed in magazines.
Daniel was born four years later [in 1966], in a New York City hospital. The Broadway producer Robert Whitehead, who died in 2002, would tell Martin Gottfried that Miller called him on the day of the birth. Miller was "overjoyed," Whitehead said, and confided that he and Inge were planning to name the boy "Eugene"—possibly after Eugene O'Neill, whose play Long Day's Journey into Night, which had won the Pulitzer in 1957, had awed Miller. The next day, however, Miller called Whitehead again and told him the baby "isn't right." The doctors had diagnosed the infant with Down syndrome. Born with an extra 21st chromosome, children with Down syndrome are often recognized by their upward-slanted eyes and flattened facial features. They suffer from hypotonia—decreased muscle tone—and mild to moderate retardation. Many are born with heart problems, and in 1966 they were not expected to live past the age of 20.
"Arthur was terribly shaken—he used the term 'mongoloid,'" Whitehead recalled. He said, "'I'm going to have to put the baby away.'" A friend of Inge's recalls visiting her at home, in Roxbury, about a week later. "I was sitting at the bottom of the bed, and Inge was propped up, and my memory is that she was holding the baby and she was very, very unhappy," she says. "Inge wanted to keep the baby, but Arthur wasn't going to let her keep him." Inge, this friend recalls, "said that Arthur felt it would be very hard for Rebecca, and for the household," to raise Daniel at home. Another friend remembers that "it was a decision that had Rebecca at the center."
Within days, the child was gone, placed in a home for infants in New York City. When he was about two or three, one friend recalls, Inge tried to bring him home, but Arthur would not have it. Daniel was about four when he was placed at the Southbury Training School. Then one of two Connecticut institutions for the mentally retarded, Southbury was just a 10-minute drive from Roxbury, along shaded country roads. "Inge told me that she went to see him almost every Sunday, and that [Arthur] never wanted to see him," recalls the writer Francine du Plessix Gray. Once he was placed in Southbury, many friends heard nothing more about Daniel. "After a certain period," one friend says, "he was not mentioned at all."