Normally, when I think of October, I think of cross country season.
This year is different.
Recently I became aware that it is Down syndrome Awareness month. Here are a few things that I have learned so far:
- Down syndrome is characterized by someone who has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two.
- Always put the person first. In other words, I may say, “I met a new friend with Down syndrome.” Always, always the person first, the disability second. So, it is not okay to say, “They are expecting a Down’s child.”
- Some may say “Down’s” and that is technically not correct. It is Down syndrome (big D, little s) after a Dr. John Langdon Down.
- We refer to other people as “typical,” not “normal.”
- Down syndrome is not a disease and people are not “afflicted” by it.
- According to the Waisman Center at University of Wisconsin, “More than 400,000 individuals in the US have Down syndrome,” and, “Approximately one in every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome each year.”
- People with Ds can read, play sports, participate in their mainstream school, go to college, marry and live on their own. So basically, it does not define or limit who they are.
So, why the newfound interest in Down syndrome?
Yep, that’s right, Max is going to be a big brother. We are bringing home a three year old GIRL from China with Down syndrome next year.
If you were to ask my husband or I how we came to the decision to adopt again, adopt a girl (we currently have five, yes five, boys), let alone a child with special needs, we may not be able to give you a suitable answer.
But we don’t have to.
For those who know and love us well, this news will come as no surprise. For the rest of you, all I can say is that we knew she was meant to be part of our family. Whether she was born with a special need or not, we looked at this girl and knew we needed to do whatever it took to bring her home. And, really, it isn’t fair to limit or define someone by a syndrome. Just like we do not refer to or limit Max as the kid who needs extra medical care.
I know we have a lot to learn and a long way to go before we meet our new daughter next spring. And, I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t just a tiny bit freaked out by this whole thing. However, there are two things I have learned and know for certain from nineteen years of parenting: 1. She will be loved. 2. We will value her for who she is, not for what she can do.
I think of that quote by Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
This is how we view each of our kids and I know she will be no exception. I cannot wait to meet this little girl to find the richness and joy that she will bring to our lives. Each of our children are unique and amazing in their own special way. I am profoundly honored to be their mom, admiring each of their own brand of genius.
I know she will be no exception.
Want to know more?
Check out the National Down Syndrome Society website for more information.
The Waisman Center Down Syndrome Clinic here in Madison is available to children who were born with Down syndrome.
This month the Madison Area Buddy Walk will raise awareness and money for the Madison chapter of the National Down Syndrome Society.
The brand new Gigi’s Playhouse here in Madison- gigisplayhouse.org/madison is definitely a place to explore as they have many opportunities to connect with other families here in town.
My favorite blog: Enjoying the Small Things by Kelle Hampton who has also written a book, “Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected”
New favorite TV show: Born This Way