The Pattersons have welcomed nine children with Down syndrome into their family. James, now 32, Alice, 28, Molly, 26, Riley, 10, David, 35, Timothy, 28, Isabel, 4, George and Tomas, 3, have all have their own unique attributes and talents. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that results from an extra chromosome 21. It can cause a wide variety of developmental delays and physical disabilities. Although caring for a family with the chromosome disorder can be challenging, the Pattersons wouldn’t have it any other way.
Alison Pike from Mencap, a learning disability charity, has a deep appreciation for the family. “It’s easy to focus on the disability rather than the child, and so it’s fantastic to see stories like this that show the positive impact adopting children with a learning disability can have on families,” she said.
Their story is one of hope and love that started as a seed planted in their hearts many years ago. Former nurse, Pam, and former police officer, Gerald, were childhood sweethearts. The pair volunteered at the Gateway Club in Birmingham for children with special needs. While there, Pam met Leigh who she introduced to her brother Roger.
In 1984, Roger and his wife, Leigh, adopted 5-month-old David, a child with Down syndrome. The couple had a biological daughter, Jenny, and then in 1990 adopted Timothy, who also had the disorder. Later, their biological son Matthew was born. They are currently fostering 4-year-old Marie.
Pam and Gerald had two biological children, Emma and Chris. Feeling inspired by her brother’s first adoption, Pam went to social services and requested to adopt only children with Down syndrome. She couldn’t bear the thought of them being stuck in foster care without a permanent home. In 1995 they adopted James, then Alice in 1989, Molly in 1996, and Riley in 2012.
Roger’s daughter, Jenny, shares the rest of her family’s passion. She adopted a daughter, Isabel and twin sons, George and Tomas. The families all live close together and spend lots of time together. The kids keep them all busy, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
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