Down syndrome- (also known as trisomy 21), is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. The condition was clinically described earlier in the 19th century by Jean Etienne Dominique Esquirol in 1838 and Edourad Seguin in 1844. Down syndrome was identified as a chromosome 21 trisomy by Dr. Jerome Lejeune in 1959. Down syndrome in a fetus can be identified through chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis during pregnancy, or in a baby at birth. (c0urtesy of Wikipedia)
The article goes on to highlight the impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth, along with the physical features that mark a child with Down syndrome. It brings up the importance of proper medical care, therapy, education, and family support to help a child with Down syndrome thrive and succeed in life.
What it doesn’t tell you is that life with a child who has Down syndrome is beautiful. My children with Down syndrome bring something to the family that no one else can. They are children. Capable of loving big, caring deeply, laughing hard, playing well, and learning so much. They are children who are capable of teaching lessons that no one else can teach. They are children that can stretch my heart like no one else can. They are children who can look into my eyes and speak volumes without a word. They are my children, my sons.
My sweet Aiden came into our lives 3 years ago. My brother in law Derek was the first to hold him. This will always and forever be one of my favorite photos ever!
Derek and Renee traveled to Ukraine just a few weeks before we did to bring their three boys home. While they were there, our sweet Aiden snuck in to visit them almost every day! Almost as if he knew they were his family.
Silas and Ethan are two of my nephews, they both are blessed with an extra chromosome.
Derek with Ethan and Silas.
One of my favorite pictures of Aiden and I just weeks after his homecoming. I love this boy with all my heart.
And then, with the entry of Aiden into our family our hearts were changed forever. Though it wasn’t time for us to adopt again, the Lord opened my eyes to see what a great need there was for me to get involved in helping children here in the US with Down syndrome find their families. I started dreaming and praying about becoming a resource for adoptive families willing to pursue domestic special needs adoption, as a branch of the work I was already doing.
I got my first phone call from an agency in April of 2010 asking if I had a family willing to adopt a child with Down syndrome. I replied, “Give me a few minutes, I will find you one. If I can’t fine one, I will come get him.”
Jonah’s family was found, and this sweet one will be my special little friend forever.
Four months later, I got another call, and this time WE were the ones who said yes. We welcomed Mattie into our family with great joy.
And then just last year I got a call from an agency asking for help placing another little guy with Down syndrome, thanks to a quick facebook post, a family was found.
They said YES to their little guy and then 3 months later got a call from the same agency and welcome another son with Down syndrome!
And the calls keep coming, and families keep saying yes!
In the midst of it all, we fought hard two see two special orphans find their way home from Eastern Europe.
You might remember Kirill’s whose momma and daddy went all the way to the Supreme Court of Russia to fight for his life just a year ago! He’s home and thriving.
And many of you generously helped us celebrate Derek’s birthday this past year by giving funds to help bring sweet Liam home to his family.
And just weeks ago, our dear friends Chris and Mary Malone, moved their family half way around the world to Ukraine, where they have set up their home and ministry. They will be raising their family there (4 of their children have Down syndrome) and working to education Ukrainian families about raising children with Down syndrome, helping to serve and teach in orphanages, and helping as a resource to adoptive families traveling to Ukraine.
This is Chris with their son Ethan. (I will be sharing more about the Malone’s in the days to come!)
This is a drop in the bucket, but these are some of the beautiful faces of children with Down syndrome who have touched my life and changed me forever. I expect my photo album to grow in the years to come.
These are children.
They are lives worth celebrating.
In a world where some see these lives a disposable, I see them as irreplaceable.
One of a kind. Just like me. Just like you.
Ready to love and be loved.
Ready to make an impact on the world.