October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and I absolutely love it. I pull out all my Down Syndrome awareness tees and wear them with pride. I mean, who doesn’t love a shirt that says I Love Homies with Extra Chromies? Or my new addition this year: Dinosaurs are Scary, Down Syndrome isn’t. You know you want one. And seeing as this is my favorite month and one of my favorite subjects, I wanted to share 3 reason you should consider adopting a child with Down Syndrome.
Reason number one is the love.
My son loves hard. He kisses you, he hugs you, he pours his affection out generously, and it is delicious. Most importantly, his love is not exclusive—and this is why love is my first reason.
Elliot does not see age, color, gender, angry faces. You could be holding a sign that says, “Bug OFF!” and he would still smile at you. He is an equal opportunity lover. It used to make me feel uncomfortable when he would work a waiting room. Moving from person to person, touching their knees, making eye contact and flashing them a big smile. Or when he would climb up on the couch next to the visiting neighbor and proceed to pet the poor man’s hair and shower him with hugs. But over the last five years, I have never once had a stranger turn away his affections; everyone soaks it up. He affects people in an incredibly moving way. My child improves people’s days wherever he goes. These acts of kindness have changed me, and have changed the way I interact with others. I don’t believe this is a lesson I would have learned anywhere else.
Secondly, our son sees the world differently.
We were walking the halls at church last week and he noticed that the texture of the carpet changed in one area, so he stopped, sat down, and rubbed one texture with his left hand and the other texture with his right. This discovery made him so happy, he clapped and ran his fingers along the line between the two.
After several minutes of this, curiosity got the best of me, so I knelt down and ran my finger along the seam. And in that moment I realized I couldn’t think of the last time I stopped to feel the texture of carpet, let alone even noticed such a small change. And I don’t think I have ever found happiness in that discovery.
Yet, this is the beauty of Elliot. He is a discoverer and he is not on any hurried or socially appropriate schedule, and so he takes his time learning and experiencing things. I have found that through his influence I stop more often to look at the beautiful flowers outside the doctor’s office, I close my eyes and enjoy the breeze.
That introduces the last reason: My son has taught me to find happiness in everything.
We call the Down Syndrome community the Joy Society in our home. Raising a child with Down Syndrome is not easy; we have spent many, many hours with doctors and therapists. Our son is five and still not potty-trained. However, ask a parent about their child with Down Syndrome, heck, ask any parent with a special needs child, and the first thing they will do is smile. The amount of joy that pours from these individuals is palpable. Our son manages to smile even in the hardest of moments, and his laugh is contagious. He loves unconditionally. He studies shadows and how they move across the room and plays within them in ways I never considered. He loves life, he loves me, and I love him.