Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy WDSD!!

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!!

Maybe you are thinking, "why on earth would anyone celebrate Down Syndrome?"

Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21, occurs when there is an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Only very rare types of Trisomy 21 are inherited. The extra genetic material affects each individual with DS. Heart defects are common, but not universal. Muscle tone is often affected. Distinctive, and beautiful if I may say so, facial features are often present.

Even though people with Down Syndrome have extra genetic material on the 21st chromosome, they have all the other chromosomes that people without DS have. They are as unique and different from each other as any other two typical individuals.

If a few key moments of my life were erased I might not be celebrating 321 today. I would never have given it a second thought. I might have thought it was strange or odd to celebrate a "disability."

You may not believe me but my life is infinitely richer today because of Down Syndrome. And while DS can have disabling effects, I don't consider it a disability.

I'm thankful for my son Ralph who introduced me to the blessings of parenting a child with Down Syndrome. Because of him I take a little more time. I'm in less of a hurry.

Because of him I love a little bit better, even those people who require extra grace.

Because of him I care less about appearances and more about substance.

Because of him I fight harder for what is right and I let go of the petty things.

Because of him I fear less and hope more.

Because of him my eyes were opened to the genocide of babies with Down Syndrome in the western world and the warehousing and neglect of individuals with special needs in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Because of him our family took the opportunity to bring two more children with Down Syndrome into our tribe.

Here are my three boys with DS and their brother and sister without. We are sitting on the front porch waiting for the school bus. All five children are as unique and as special as can be. Each has a hope and a future. Each one is something to celebrate.

Will you celebrate with us?