The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network was formed in 1982. It was inspired when the founders of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati met and fell in love Martha, a 4-year-old girl with Down Syndrome. Through their journey of adopting Martha into their family, a desire grew to help other children with Down Syndrome find forever families.

Now the only domestic adoption program whose sole focus is Down syndrome, the NDSAN helps about 42 children a year find their forever homes within the United States.” And just like our family, these adoptive parents have found the magic of having a child with Down Syndrome. Stephanie Thompson, the director of NDSAN, shared some recent comments from adoptive parents with me. All of the parents commented about the great love they have felt and how much they have felt support from the community. One mom commented, “Seeing how the public responds to my kids. Most people are so nice and sweet. The kids are almost treated like celebrities!” Another mom said, “I have MANY more people coming up to me and giving attention to our daughter. I have had comments from people of how she just drew them in and they couldn’t help but come over!”

Stephanie Thompson, the director of NDSAN, also suggested that families who were considering special needs adoption reach out to their local Down Syndrome association and spend some time volunteering and learning about these individuals. I loved this quote from one of the adoptive parents: “I’ve been surprised by how well our biological kiddos have adjusted to Sam, especially with the extra attention that his needs require at times. We simply cannot imagine our life without him … I’ve been encouraged by their continual positive responses to him—no jealousy (yet) or feelings of frustration—they have nothing but fierce love and compassion for him. Our 8 year-old daughter has said, “Mom, our lives are better and funnier with Sam.” She’s right.”

And love continues beyond the adopted children. Many of the parents talked about how much they appreciated their child’s birth parents. One parent commented, “I also have such love and admiration for my daughter’s birth mom, she is the real hero in adoption. Society wouldn’t have blinked if she decided to terminate … But she didn’t and she choose use to receive the most amazing gift.”  I wholeheartedly second this comment.

Interested in learning more about NDSAN or in getting on the NDSAN Registry? Stephanie Thompson suggests you start with watching the following webinar, which will educate you on everything you should know about adopting a child with Down Syndrome.