You all have heard my testimony and reasons on why I chose down syndrome adoption (if you haven’t read it click here!), now I wanna share another families story!
Why down syndrome adoption, A guest post!
Diana and Andrew are in the process of adopting a little one with down syndrome from Eastern Europe, here is their story WHY! You can follow along on their adoption journey HERE!
Why do you want to adopt a child with Down syndrome?
It’s a question we get asked often. Sometimes it goes unasked, but I often see the question in people’s eyes after we tell them our plans.
The short answer is, why wouldn’t we want to adopt a child with Down syndrome?
But to be fair, I’ll give a long answer too.
Growing up, I was rarely around individuals with Down syndrome. In school, most children with disabilities were in separate classrooms from their peers, and I don’t remember interacting with them much. On the occasion when I saw any of them, I felt nervous and embarrassed and I didn’t know what to say or how to act.
Before starting college, I decided to major in Deaf Education. I had been fascinated by Sign Language my entire life, and as a child, one of my cousins and I even pretended to be Deaf and to “sign” to each other. When I attended my college orientation, I heard about a new program where I could earn a dual degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Since schools for the Deaf were shutting down in many areas, I decided a broader degree would be beneficial.
So I signed up.
But I was terrified.
I had ZERO experience working with, or even being around, people with disabilities. Other than seeing someone with a special need in public and trying not to stare rudely, I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know if I would be a good fit for the program, and I didn’t know if I would enjoy it. In the end, I figured I could always change my major if things didn’t work out well.
I’m so glad God’s plans are better than mine. Because while I had NO idea what I was doing signing up for that major, God knew it was exactly the right place for me.
My first internship began the Spring semester of my sophomore year. My placement was with a third grade teacher at an inclusive school. What this means is that almost all of the students with disabilities were in a regular education classroom with their peers, rather than being placed in separate classrooms.
The class I worked with had about 30 students. Two of the kids had Down syndrome, one child was on the autism spectrum, and several children had learning disabilities. The children with special needs spent the majority of the day in the classroom with their peers, and would sometimes work with an assistant in a small group setting. Some of them went to therapies like speech, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, and they received services from their special education teacher as well. But, they were as much a part of their class as the rest of the children.
Over the course of my internship, I ended up spending a lot of time with the two girls who had Down syndrome. All of my misconceptions, fears, and expectations were completely blown out of the water by these two incredible children. They were sweet, stubborn, silly, fun, hard-working, challenging, and absolutely precious. They challenged me in ways I didn’t know I needed, and I began to see that they were just kids. Just two girls who were born a little different, but that did not make them scary or strange.
After college, I was incredibly blessed to get a job as a special education teacher at the same school I had interned. I had many children on my caseload during those two years, but I especially enjoyed working with the children with Down syndrome. I know one misconception about people with DS is that they are “always happy.” I can tell you from experience with many different kids that this is definitely not true! One of the most challenging students I ever taught was a little boy with DS who was incredibly stubborn and strong-willed. He was also one of my very favorite students I ever taught, and I worked really hard to help him be as successful as possible.
Through working with many different children on my caseload, a desire grew to be a mother to a child with Down syndrome some day. Whether that would be biologically or through adoption, I didn’t know. I just knew I had an overwhelming desire in my heart.
Andrew and I always knew we wanted to adopt, the main question was when to start the process. During one of our many conversations, I asked him what he thought about adopting a child with Down syndrome. At first, he had no idea what to think because he had never considered it. He wasn’t against the idea, but he also didn’t have any experience with people with DS. God worked in his heart, and soon after he became really enthusiastic about the idea! When we started the adoption process last fall, there was never a question for either of us – we knew we wanted to adopt a child with Down syndrome.
We do not know exactly what the road ahead of us will look like, but we do know that it will be an amazing blessing and a wonderful journey.