“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.”
~A.A. Milne, from "Winnie the Pooh"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Are Family

How do I explain what it is like to have a child with Down Syndrome? How do I completely make someone who doesn't have a child as amazing, as beautiful, as mine understand the changes that having Liddy have made on my heart, on my entire life?
How do I make someone see that breathtaking beauty that is this community?
A very dear friend of mine wrote a blog post today that made me stop and think deeply about just what it is about being given a precious 47 chromosome wonder does to a mama's heart that gives her the strength, the passion, the compassion, to worry and to cry and to rejoice over children that she will probably never meet, never know personally, whose only link to her and her child is that tiny extra chromosome. 
For me, this is one of the greatest wonders of my daughter and her presence in my life. I never gave abortion a second thought. I never realized that there are children in the world who are so neglected, so abused, all because their societies consider them unworthy of life. I lived within my safe little bubble and almost purposefully closed my eyes to the horrors which exist outside of it.
No more. 
My eyes have been opened. My heart has been changed.
You see, having a child with sparkly, almond eyes and crooked pinkies gave me the perspective to see my baby's beautiful face in the faces of every child with similar features. Yes, she looks more like us, her family, yet there is no denying the similarities between her and so many other children who share her chromosomal makeup. And I find that simply by that fact alone, I can not turn away from others like her in need, because to me, it's tantamount to turning my back on her, which is something I can not conceive of doing.
I am drawn to other children with eyes like hers, faces like hers. I have cried great sobbing cries and pled passionately to God on behalf of angels gone too soon from this world. I have hit my knees more times than it is possible to count during the last 11 months, and more often than not, those prayers are lifted, not for us or for my daughter, but for others...the lost, the broken, the forgotten. 
There are those who believe that we, the mothers from across the world who constantly push, who constantly thrust our children out for the world to see, who raise Hell about high abortion rates and lost children, are at times taking it all a little too far. And all I have to say to those who doubt, who turn away from our passion, our overabundant love for children not our own, is no. We aren't taking it too far at all. If anything, we're not taking it far enough.
I wrote a post a while back about the conditions in mental institutions in Serbia, and the likeness to the mental institutions that children like mine were condemned to not so long ago, right here in the good old US of A. Shortly after, I was friended by a mother on Facebook, who has an amazing 50 year old son who shares the diagnosis of Down Syndrome with my daughter (btw keep an eye out for a special guest post from this mama after the holidays!). I am honored to be this woman's friend. And I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life to have been able to thank her personally for everything she has done to open doors, not just for her own son, but for my daughter and thousands like her. In her own words, when knocking on doors didn't work, they simply kicked them down. I praise God every single day, as I play with Lydia, that mothers (and fathers too) like her exist. Parents who were completely unwilling to turn their backs on their children, who fought tooth and nail for their right to be included in society, to have a very real chance to become all they are capable of becoming and to show the world what they are capable of. Without those parents, the horrible life our kids faced is indescribable, unfathomable.
THIS is why we advocate. THIS is why we pepper our blogs, our Facebook pages, and anywhere else we have a voice with pictures, with words, with our beliefs. We CAN make a difference, even if it is in a small way........
One life saved is well worth the effort.
And all it takes to see the results of all of those prayers is a glimpse of these pictures, which provide the most visible, in your face proof that miracles happen for a lost child, finally coming home and basking in the sunshine of simply being loved, being wanted. 
I have watched Katie's story unfold throughout the last several months. I was shocked, sickened, and heart broken over the pictures of her mama meeting her for the first time. She was shockingly small for a 9 and 1/2 year old (weighing over 5 lbs less than my one year old and being just slightly longer than she is now) and her refusal to smile, to laugh, to look her mama in the eyes ripped my heart into tiny shreds. Less than a month in her new country, surrounded by people who love her without reservation, and that tiny fragile bird is blossoming. This is a testament to what love is capable of doing. 
And THIS is why we love every child who rocks an extra chromosome, why we fight so hard to try to save them all. 
Some of you may never understand. I get that. Had it not been for one small angel named Lydia Anne, I probably would have never completely understood either. 
We are family, despite the lack of blood relation. We all hurt when the least of us is in pain........
Please consider giving a little to Reece's Rainbow this holiday season. Not because I'm asking, but because you have listened to the whispers of your heart and know that you have it within your power to change the world, one child at a time. Do it in honor of one precious Bug, who is already changing the world one gorgeous smile at a time.......

Thankful beyond words for the children who now know what Christmas means....and praying without ceasing for those who still wonder, "Where are you, Christmas?".........

1 comment:

  1. I cannot look into those little faces on RR and not see my son staring back at me. That is what makes it so painful...Children who need unconditional love, acceptance and protection the most, are the very children being tossed away. It breaks my heart.

    And how do we thank the parents who came before us and fought for our children to be accepted, to not have to live in Mental Institutions, to be allowed to go to school with other children?
    We fight for those who will come after us...And for those in Countries where they still do not see these childrens worth. And talking about it or posting about it...Is the least we can do!

    Great post Heidi!


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