Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Adopt a Child With Down Syndrome?

I think the question Chris and I get most frequently when people find out that Katie is adopted is, "Why did you adopt a child with Down syndrome?"  My first reaction is that I want to ask why the person asking cares, or why it is any of his/her business.  I stifle that reaction.  I think we are curious by nature about things that are different, and knowingly choosing a child with special needs is "different" to most people. Most people hope, pray, beg and barter NOT to have a child with special needs.  We just jump right in, spend tens of thousands of dollars, and fly 30,000 miles in 90 days to add a "different" child to our family.

Here's the answer that will probably disappoint most people. . . we didn't have a real "reason" for adopting a child specifically with Down syndrome.  

There.  I said it.

We didn't feel like we were "lead by God" to adopt a special needs child, which is something I so often hear in the special needs community. 

We didn't feel like we had to try to solve the orphan crisis in the world.  

We don't feel like we're special people.

We wanted another child.  Katie needed a family.  End of story.

Here's how the whole thing went down:  Chris and I had always joked when people would ask us if we would try to have a girl, "If we have a girl, she's coming on a plane from China."  We've always talked about adoption, and it's been something we were open to from the start of our relationship.  Last year we were introduced to Reece's Rainbow by a family I met who had adopted a little boy with Ds.  I started stalking the website like it was my second job.  I started showing Chris the photos on the site.  He immediately saw Katie's picture and said, "That's my smooshy."  We talked about it every day for about a month.  One morning when I was getting ready to leave for work Chris said, "Send the email today and ask about her.  Let's do it."  

And that was it.  A lot of paperwork, a lot of money, and a little under a year later, she was ours.

Of course we had a few other reasons we knew we could parent a child with Ds, but really, we just wanted to.

Having a special needs child is not something I ever anticipated doing.  Does anyone?  Having two special needs children?  Seriously, that's for crazy people.

Or so I thought.

However, when I think about our family, I don't consider us crazy or any different.  We just have a few more kids than average.

I am so not an expert, but I really feel like the "special" part of special needs kids is totally what you make of it.  I am a big lemonade out of lemons person.  As a parent, you get the kid(s) you are meant to have, and it doesn't matter to me where the kid comes from.  David has his own special issues (sensory processing disorder, apraxia of speech, and Tourette's Syndrome - for those of you new to us) and Katie has her special issues (Ds, non-verbal....that's about it).  Henry has his special issues (or not . . . he's the easiest child ever) and Jack has his special issues (wild, so curious about everything, exceptionally selective listening, and a propensity for disaster).

All of the diagnosable special issues are no biggie around here.  I cannot get so caught up in a list of diagnosable, IEP eligible, specialist referral, EOB posting things that I miss what is right in front of me - four incredible little people.  They are special because they are mine, not because of a code used in their medical files.  The therapies, schedules, doctor's appointments, tutors, and everything that comes along with it is just periphery junk.

When Chris and I set out to adopt Katie, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  And I don't mean with anything related to Down syndrome.  I mean we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into with Katie.  

She has changed our family, immediate and extended, in ways we could never have anticipated.  She has brought us more joy in the last five months than I thought we had room for.  She oozes love and excitement and it's contagious.  She is excited about everything she experiences.  She is everything we never knew we were missing.  And that, my friends, is why we adopted a child with Down syndrome.  We thought we would bring Katie home and teach her about life and about love and about being a family.  We were wrong.  

She has taught us.    


  1. Still can't figure out why you would adopt a child with ds. Hahahaha!
    LOVE this post and love your sweet family!

  2. Love your post and words! Katie was meant to have you as her family. That is obvious from the way she has bonded, settled and become one of you. It must be hard to remember life without her. Her sweet little being would put a smile on my face everyday!

  3. I adopted my lil one with Ds domesticly. Did not "set out on a mission" It just happened to be that the child that needed a mom and the mom that needed the child matched and Ds was an afterthought...I wouldnt change a thing! She is my world...your lil one is a beauty, no matter how she came to be yours...I hate the questions sometimes as well...but the, "Why?" Is always the one that plucks my nerves...Why?....because a mother knows her own child...and she was mine the minute I saw her...God bless!

  4. This is so great. Your family is just precious :)

  5. ooo heck Kim you got me in tears here! Love this post, love your words about your kids, your love oozes throughout! love the viewpoint on all our kids special needs regardless of whether it is diagnosable or not! Just love it that Kate got with you guys! love love love xxxx


We love to read your comments!