Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A special family ...

One of the most amazing things that has come from having a child with Down syndrome is the friendships that I have made. Meeting other families that are similar to ours that are on our journey ... it is really hard for me to put into words just how special of a bond we have with them. It is instantaneous. It is different than a regular old friendship ... we get each other. We are experiencing the exact same things in life. We understand what the other is going through. When can talk to each other about PT, OT, ST, AAI, EI, IFSP, DS, IEP {and the list goes on} and know exactly what all those things mean and why each one of them have such a huge impact on our lives.

One of those friends that I have made is McKenna. Even though we live half way across the country from each other, we talk on the phone every day and we have been lucky enough to meet up a few times. I think she is my long lost twin ... it is pretty scary actually. She is amazing ... equally amazing is her little girl, Darah, who happens to have a little something extra in the chromosome department.

Not only are McKenna and I on the Down syndrome journey together, we are on the road to adoption together. McKenna and her husband are adopting a little girl from Eastern Europe ... everyone, please meet Reese ... isn't she sweet?


Tell me about yourself and your family.
DJ and I have been married for 5 1/2 years and have two children. Connor is almost 2 and Darah just turned 4. Darah has Down syndrome. We are pursuing the adoption of a 9 month old little girl who also has Down syndrome and a cleft lip and cleft palate.

Tell me why you decided to adopt a child with special needs?
Having Darah has opened our eyes up to a world we didn't know much about. Having a child with special needs brings so much reward and joy to our lives. We also know that around the world, so many children are abandoned because they have special needs. We feel that adopting a child with special needs will not only enrich our family, but save a precious child in the process.

What special needs does she have?
Reese has Down syndrome. She also was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. In Reese's country, she is not eligible for the very simple procedure to repair her cleft lip and cleft palate. While it may look shocking, she will have surgery to repair her cleft lip and palate when she comes home. She will be in the hospital probably only overnight for the lip repair and probably only two nights for the palate repair. She is able to eat right now with a special bottle and we are very encouraged at how chunky she is because that tells us her caregivers are taking the time to make sure she is nourished! Neither Down syndrome or cleft lip/palate are a scary thing! While Reese will have to have surgery and will probably have delayed development and some extra developmental therapy a lot of children do not need, we know that our every day lives will not be that much different than anyone else's. We can't wait for her to come home to our family!

What would be your advice to anyone wanting to adopt?
The main thing I want to tell people is that we are not special people. We are making a big decision to adopt a child, but we're not any different than any other family. We were afraid of the adoption process and the fundraising and now that we are in the process I'm learning it's not as big and scary as I thought it would be. If you are wanting to adopt, I encourage you to spend a lot of time in prayer. I also encourage you to find some people who have been through the process and start asking all your questions! That was the best thing I did before we committed to Reese. I also encourage you to consider adopting a child with special needs. These children are at the biggest risk of being sent to institutions around the world. 80% of them die within the first year of being transferred to an institution. A lot of countries are not accepting of individuals with special needs and it is important to send the message to these countries that these children ARE WANTED and ARE LOVABLE and more important to save these children from dying in awful institutions! Find someone who has a child with special needs and spend some time with them. I truly believe that every family should know the joy of raising a child with special needs. Having a daughter with Down syndrome has enriched our little family in so many ways and made us all better people! I am an open book with our adoption process and happy to share anything about our journey with anyone!

If you would like to follow their journey to Reese, click here to be redirected to their blog. If you would like to help them in their fund raising efforts with a tax deductible donation, click here. I'd like to leave you with The Starfish Story, a favorite of this family ...

The Starfish Story
Original Story by: Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.

”Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”
I made a difference for that one."


  1. I need to go get a tissue....Bethany, that was so sweet! I love you, too and am so excited God has brought you into my life to share this very special Trisomy 21 / adoption journey with me!! XXOO

  2. What a sweet post, Bethany! Isn't it amazing the people we meet due to our circumstances? I can't imagine my life without so many of the wonderful people I've met because my eyes have been opened to this world of special needs. And I don't agree with McKenna when she wrote that she is not special. Both you, Bethany, and McKenna are special people... not because you have a child with special needs or because you are adopting, but because that is just who you are. I am so glad that I know you and I hope that we continue to get to know eachother more and more.

  3. Thank you for sharing. What a sweet friendship! I found your blog from the RR yahoo group. We aren't adopting - yet - though I pray about it all the time.

    The stat on survival in the institution has me crying. My heart is already breaking for these beautiful children. I'm thankful for people who are making a difference.

    I'm praying daily for these children and praying for your family as you journey to adopt your sweet little one.