Today is "World Down Syndrome Day" where across the globe we join together beyond cultural, geographic, and religious boundaries to celebrate every person who has Down syndrome. When people who don't know anyone or anything about Down syndrome hear about a friend or relative having a baby with Down syndrome their first response is often "Oh, I'm so sorry". Those were my exact words too. Before Hayden, when I still lived in a world where anyone born different was synonymous with epic tragedy. I think part of the journey of walking with God isn't just that initial "accepting" that there IS a God who loves us and taking Jesus into our hearts, it comes in the daily living-out of how God chooses to heal the dark places in our hearts, that are unknown even to us. I seriously didn't even know what love was before Hayden, but God knew. And He knew that this baby, better than other child (and we had already lost two in the broken and twisted foster-to-adopt system just months before Hayden was born) was the one to single-handedly change my heart and the direction of our lives.
The assumption of course is that having a baby with Down syndrome automatically means a life of unending complicated medical problems and having a child that will never achieve anything. Of course that's all rubbish. While some babies with Down syndrome DO have medical issues, many have none at all. And if by "achieve" you mean growing up to use their talents to make the world a better place, live independently and become tax-paying memebers of society, many do. Are those who don't live independently not "achieving" anything? Perhaps their mission here on earth isn't supposed to be out in the work force, maybe their jobs are changing hearts one at a time, closer to home in their own neighborhoods, churches and synagogues. Many "typical" kids also grow up, make some horrific choices for their lives, and the lives of others and live out their days in a six foot by six foot cement cell, for which the rest of society pays. I've never heard of a person with Down syndrome, stalking, killing or terrorizing another human being, ever. How's that for achieving something?
Now when I see a new baby born with T21 I want to run up to the parents and shout "CONGRATULATIONS!!" and "You have NO idea how RICH your life is about to become!!" I think of today as "Grateful For T21 Day" because the day Hayden was born was the day when I truly began to live. So for those of you fortunate enough to actually have a child with Down syndrome, congratulations!! I truly hope you enjoy each minute WITH your child and are not trying to make him/her conform to what the world says children with Down syndrome should be doing or learning. If you don't have a child with Down syndrome, I'm kind of sorry for you. You're missing out on an amazing journey of pure love, unbridled sweetness, and true independence of thought and deed. Hopefully you're getting the message from somewhere out there that every life is a treasure, every day is a gift and just being human is achievement enough.