We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for on World Down Syndrome Day 2015.
A year and a half ago my wife Alex and I decided that it was time to start our family through adoption. We dove into the adoption process head first and never looked back.
As part of the initial adoption application we got to "chose" our child. Race, gender, birth parent history, religion, abilities and on and on.
Of the many options that we could have ticked off, we had one single box checked. It was that one single box that described our perfect child to a tee.
Our perfect child has upward slanted almond eyes, and a little button nose that perfectly accentuates his flawless round face. He may have a single crease on the palm of his hand that will hold tightly onto your pinky finger.
He may be born with congenital heart defects, thyroid issues and chances are will have issues with his eyes or ears as he grows. That’s fine though, we can tackle those obstacles when we get to them. He will also have low muscle tone ('floppy baby'), which means when you hold him close to you his little body will just melt into yours. He will take longer at hitting his developmental milestones, but he will get there will a little extra help.
Speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy will give him the tools he needs to achieve these milestones. We know that we will also have to do lots of work at home outside an official "therapy" setting, we can handle that. Our child will go to school and be in a classroom with your perfect child. He will be friendly, caring, and compassionate, and I hope your child is as well! He has a lot to teach us, his siblings and the rest of the world about acceptance and unconditional pure love. He may drive a car, but maybe not, there's no rush to worry about that quite yet! He will graduate, maybe not with a GED, but he will wear a cap and gown and celebrate this huge accomplishment alongside his peers. He may want to attend some form of post-secondary education, we will definitely encourage it but at the end of the day it will be his choice.
We would love for him to experience living on his own, maybe with a bit of help. Then again, why worry about this so soon? He will have a fulfilling job that he is happy to wake up and go to every morning. He will get married if he chooses to do so. Most importantly our perfect child will be happy, and content with life. He will be loved and cared for no matter what.
We had checked the box beside the words Down syndrome.
When I was around the age of 5, my neighbor and best friend Mandy had Down syndrome. As a child this was something I never thought twice about. I knew that Mandy was different than I was, I didn’t know why, and it didn’t matter. Mandy was happy, she had an infectious smile and a zest for life. I loved being around Mandy.
My mom recently told me that I came home one afternoon when I was a little girl and declared that I was going to be a mommy to a little baby just like Mandy. What a self-fulfilling prophecy that turned out to be! I will forever be grateful to have found a partner in life that saw my dream and chose to share it with me.
Fast forward 25 years to the day we got the call to inform us that our perfect child was ready to join our family. We were in the middle of a vacation but had seats booked on the next flight home within an hour of “the call.” A whirlwind 48 hours later, we were sitting in a hospital room, rocking our son Jaxson, and totally head over heels in love.
Jaxson is now about to turn one, and I can’t even begin to describe the love, joy, comedy, and sheer delight he has brought to our family. Jaxson has been an easy, content, happy baby, and has made the transition to parenthood easy and seamless. Anyone that has had the opportunity to meet Jax can attest to his already infectious personality and the immense love that radiates from him.
Our days may not be filled up with play dates, swim lessons, and mommy groups like they may be with a typical baby. Instead we spend time at various doctors' appointments, and bouncing around from one therapy session to the next. However, we quite enjoy being a part of his therapies and we burst with pride when he learns a new skill and crushes a new milestone.
That is not to say that we haven’t had trying times this year. In July 2014 Jaxson underwent open heart surgery at 11 weeks old to repair a congenital heart defect. Followed by a couple more hospitalizations from minor complications and illness. We have learned to take everything in stride and deal with his health issues one day at a time.
We don’t know what the future holds for Jax. We don’t know what obstacles and trials will be thrown our way, but we do know that Jaxson is every single thing that we wished, dreamed and hoped for, and so much more.
He is our perfection. And he has Down syndrome.