Friday, March 16, 2012

Chromosomally Enhanced

This is the eighth post in a series about the new prenatal tests that detect Down syndrome in the first trimester of pregnancy. It is our hope to bring awareness to concerns regarding the test, as well as bring a call to action. 

Elizabeth and Leanne

Today I've asked my blogging friend Elizabeth, from Confessions of the Chromosomally Enhanced, to post for me. Her blog is one of my favorites, because it is one of the few I read that features a glimpse into what life as an adult with Down syndrome looks like. Elizabeth writes about her older sister, Leanne, as well as her first daughter, Josie, who also has Down syndrome and was welcomed into their family through adoption.

I think it's important when considering this new test to be aware of what Down syndrome looks like later on down the line. Leanne is just one example of thousands of adults living in the United States who are contributing, compassionate members of our society. If you have the time, take a look at this impressive list of businesses owned by people with Down syndrome...and if you haven't already, go become a follower over on Sarah's blog. Both Sarah and Leanne are shining examples of what a beautiful future Lily has, and I am so thankful to have had a window into that future through the words of their loved ones.  


Josie and Aunt Leanne

On more than one occasion I have been asked the audacious question, "Why would you want to adopt a baby with Down syndrome?!"  The inquiring party is usually looking at me as though I have three heads - all of which need to be examined by a mental health professional - and I am suddenly put on the spot and forced to defend my decision to voluntarily welcome a family member with an extra chromosome.   
So why did I choose to adopt a baby with Down syndrome?

Leanne and baby sister Elizabeth
Our decision to adopt Josie was inspired by my big sister, Leanne.  Leanne has Down syndrome and she is the single most influential person in my life.  She brings me greater joy than anyone else.  She is honest, sincere, loving, generous...and the funniest person I've ever met! 

Does Leanne have some cognitive delays?  Absolutely.  Does that degrade her value as an individual?  Absolutely not.  Down syndrome is not a burden that weighs down Leanne and everyone around her.  To the contrary, Leanne's presence is uplifting!  Leanne reads and writes.  She graduated high school and proudly earns a paycheck at her job.  Leanne contributes to the household by putting away groceries, emptying trash cans, wiping the table, and handling numerous other domestic chores.  She has many friends, hobbies, and extracurricular activities and a far more active social life than I do!

Since I was little, I loved being around Leanne and her friends with Down syndrome and other disabilities. In those moments, I am reminded of what is truly important. Leanne doesn't care what race or religion you are. She doesn't care what your SAT score was or what Ivy League college you attended.  She doesn't care what kind of car you drive or what type of handbag you're carrying. She values people for who they really are and she goes through life with an open heart and a genuine kindness.

When I am around Leanne, I am truly comfortable being myself because I know she only sees the content of my heart.  I firmly believe that God creates people with disabilities to offer the rest of us a prism to view life as He intended us to view it; stripped of all materialism and superficiality. Those of us who are lucky enough to get to look through this prism are forever changed. 
Our family was chosen to receive this extraordinary gift when Leanne was born and because of this experience, we felt blessed to be able to welcome Josie through adoption. I hope (and truly believe) that anyone who encounters Leanne or Josie are relieved of ignorant misconceptions about Down syndrome and that those misconceptions are replaced by an appreciation for the value Leanne and Josie bring to this world. 

Make sure to hop over to Confessions of the Chromosomally Enhanced to learn more about Leanne and Josie !


Education: Exploring Online Learning said...

Oh, I love the "Confessions" blog and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!

Anna Theurer said...

I LOVE this post. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your story with us.

Sarah said...

This is a beautiful post and the pictures brought tears to my eyes. the power of LOVE!!

Kellan's momma said...

Thank you for sharing this on here! You have a new blog follower!!

Rochelle said...

Oh we love Leanne and Josie! Great post Elizabeth!

Shannon said...

Beautiful Elizabeth :) so many people claim to worry about the negative impact welcoming a baby with ds will have on their other kids, but you are such a strong example of how false that theory is. Not only did you feel blessed by a sibling with ds, but then you also purposefully added a daughter to your family that has ds. You beam how positive t21 can be

Looking Up said...

I love Elizabeth's blog! Thanks so much for sharing :)

Regina said...

I love this post. Elizabeth's words are so beautiful to read!!

Leah said...

You know why this post meant alot to me being a sibling to someone with ds. Thanks so much for sharing Elizabeth! This post has been one of my favorites due to that reason. I shared with my sister & heres the comment she left on my fb wall:
Thanks, leah, that's a beautiful post!

cara said...

Thank you for sharing Elizabeth!! I am always SO interested in adults with down syndrome. That special extra chromosome they are born with and shine with as babies clearly continues to radiate through their lives as adults. We are SO blessed to have a baby with down syndrome and are thrilled to watch him grow.

Norm Wakefield told me that this will be a child that will not have the cares of this world as we do, and I love that. He is an author and speaker that I admire. His daughter has down syndrome. God used him to give me a beautiful glimpse of down syndrome after we had our Benji.

Thank you for adding this to the posts Patti. It is SO important to show adults as well. But I am sad that we have to prove that these people with down syndrome are worth life and are special, special people. It breaks my heart as I look into the eyes of Benji that anyone would not think he is worthy of life. It breaks my heart that people kill babies like him simply because they have an extra chromosome.

Unknown said...

Beautiful! I too read Elizabeths blog! Love love love her outlook! Love that you are doing this! Thank you! Katie

Katrina said...

I love this post. When I first felt impressed to adopt a child that has DS I had many people look at me as if I was crazy. God knew I might start doubting myself and so one day while attending an adoption picnic with my daughter we adopted from foster care I cautiously brought up the fact that I was thinking of adopting a child with DS. When these wonderful woman jumped up and hugged me. She said "you know what I do for a living don't you?" I had only met her one other time so I really had no idea. Then she said "I am the house manager for a group of men that have DS. They are my second family. Please stop by anytime and visit us so you can see the potential that really does exist in all of us."

I felt so blessed that day to have that conversation with her. I have found that a lot of the time when I bring it up I now run into so many people who have someone in their family that has DS. And all of them have always said what a wonderful blessing they are to their families. Never once has someone who has a loved one with DS in their family told me I was crazy. Only those who have no idea what they are talking about.

Carlene's soon to be momma :)

My name is Sarah said...

Thank you for linking me.

Susanna said...

The "Confessions" blog is one of my favorites! Thank you for this great interview, Patti and Elizabeth!

Leah said...

Great post, Elizabeth. I want to copy some of your words into my head permanently!

Mrs. K said...

What a fun blog (CCE) I really liked visiting. Will go more often. Kiss my Lily Bug for me please.