On World Down Syndrome Day, One Mom Shares Her Journey to the Perfect Child

This couple only checked one box on the adoption form.

ByABC News
March 21, 2015, 4:13 AM
This fall family photo was taken when Jaxson was five months old. He is pictured with his parents, Holly and Alex Graham.
This fall family photo was taken when Jaxson was five months old. He is pictured with his parents, Holly and Alex Graham.
Holly Graham

— -- 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.

PHOTO: Holly said, this photo “sums up” who Jaxson is.
Holly said, this photo “sums up” who Jaxson is.

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.

PHOTO: A family photo taken when Jaxson was 10 months old.
A family photo taken when Jaxson was 10 months old.

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.

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.