“John is 5 years old and he is the youngest of 5 children (21,19,15, and13 yo). Joel and I elected to have amniocentesis to be sure John had Down syndrome. By the time John was born, we had had time to adjust not only to the diagnosis of Ds, but also, the idea of having a baby at 47yo. John has opened a whole new wonderful world for the entire family. We have enjoyed him and the gifts of silliness he brings to our lives. Having John has humbled us. We realize that we were so wrong about what our life would be like and how a child with Ds would be, it makes us think, “What else do we have wrong opinions about with no direct, or accurate experience?” We find ourselves becoming better listeners and less likely to ignorantly chime in.
Like many, when John was born, I turned to Facebook to explore the people, places, and stories of Ds. I discovered Reece’s Rainbow and would often look at children, like John, who were orphaned. It took 4 years to accept our calling, but in Jan 2017, Joel and I began the process to adopt an 11yo orphan girl from another county. Reece’s Rainbow refers to her as “Eloise” and she also happens to have Ds. We expect to meet “Eloise” soon, and are fundraising now that all our paperwork has been submitted.
We embrace the challenges raising John with a pretty good attitude and keep any comparisons at bay. John is John, and he only really needs to progress within his own potential to be successful. This will go for our “Eloise” also. And by the way, it goes for us and our other children too! (Potential does not equal comfort zone.)
John’s current kindergarten activities show he has the potential to read, play on a sports team, and be a caring and fun friend. So, these are the goals we focus on for now. I’ve been fortunate to witness the “zig -zaggy” paths of my other children and I can see now that worry is a wasted emotion, but flexibility and understanding are really good gifts.
On Facebook in the days of pregnancy, I found advice that was simple and sound: “When that baby is born, all they need is for you to love them. To commit to love them.” It was an epiphany, “I can certainly do that!” At the end of the day, after concerns of medical stuff, schools stuff, behavior stuff, it is calming to think John is going to be okay because he is loved by us. Here are pictures of us soon after committing to love him forever.
I would say that because I don't live in SW CT, 21 Strong is more of a Facebook presence for me. It is a place where I can go to read about all types of topics relating to Ds. It is a vibrant, active group of people who are on the cutting edge of information. 21 Strong work to enhance the efforts of the CT Down Syndrome Congress and helps to distribute information coming from other groups.”
For more information about their journey of the adoption of “Eloise”: https://reecesrainbow.org/118104/sponsorsefransky