March 21. 3-21. To some, today is just another day; but to our family and many others its a day to celebrate those with Down syndrome. So today to celebrate, I (Jaxson’s other mom) am going to share my story. Holly has shared hers before, how she has always known she wanted to parent a child with Down syndrome, but my story is very different.
I can remember a time early in our relationship when Holly mentioned she wanted a child with Down syndrome. Honestly, I thought she was joking. When I came to realize she was serious, I brushed it off as something that would actually never happen. Now don’t get me wrong, its not that I didn’t want a child with Down syndrome, I just thought it would be very financially and time consuming. Eventually, I told Holly that we could think about it later in life, once we had older kids and were at a mature spot in our careers and lives. November 2013, that all changed.
In November 2013 I went off to Texas for a few weeks to finish off my practical portion of my firefighter certifications (NFPA 1001s). It was an amazing few weeks that I knew would change my life, bringing me that much closer to my dream job as a firefighter. What I didn’t know is exactly how my life would change. During my first week of training in Texas, one of our instructors approached our class and asked for some help. One of his Lieutenants has a daughter with Down syndrome. Her name is Madison and she is 8. She is also autistic and non-verbal. A few months before I went to Texas, Madison had a medical emergency and ended up in a diabetic coma. She had been unable to communicate that she wasn’t feeling well (due to unknown low blood sugars). By the time I was in Texas she was making a full recovery at home. Her doctors had recommended that she get a service dog to help detect her insulin levels so that this wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, this service dog was going to cost her family close to $20,000.
This is where my instructor came in. He had asked us to come up with a plan to raise some money to help the cause. If we raised $500 the school would match. I was a class Captain during training so I sat down with my other officers and we started to brainstorm. We were a class of 25 people, so $20 each was $500 no problem. But we knew we could do more. We got permission from the school and the local fire departments to do a boot drive at the local Walmart. We did this over the weekend for several hours each night after training all day. When all was said and done we had raised just over $6000 for Madison’s family! Because I was Captain, I got to meet Madison and her dad and tell them the good news. Madison was very shy around strangers but luckily for me, I was wearing purple eyeliner and thats her favourite colour! The family was over joyed with the news.
I called Holly that night and told her all about our success. It was right about that time that I knew something had changed in my mindset. I got to spend some time with Madison and her dad and I saw something between the 2 of them I had never seen before. Here we had this beautiful little girl with so much against her, medically speaking. Life had been hard. But she had this beautiful smile that never faded and the way her dad looked at her, it was so special. I knew then that this was a bond that people with “typical” children didn’t have. I honestly still don’t have the words to describe what I saw, in fact I think felt is a better word, but it was pure magic and it changed my heart.
Right before I left Texas I told Holly that I wanted a child with Down syndrome. We had already been trying to start a family and we decided right then that we would pursue adopting a child with Down syndrome. I guess the rest is history. A short 6 months later we were parents to the most perfect child ever, Jaxson.
So now you know my story. Happy World Down Syndrome Day.