World Down Syndrome Day 2013, RAISE YOUR FLAG
Today is World Down Syndrome Day 2013 …
And I have no idea what to write, let alone the message I want communicated in the words I type.
Why is this?
I’ve been advocating for my daughters with Down syndrome for seven years. Even in the beginning, after my daughter Polly was born, as I grieved the child I expected (mostly out of ignorance), I still picked up whatever flag I could and waved it vigorously for Down syndrome.
That first year, when my eyes were still rimmed red from crying, and my hands shook a bit when I talked because I couldn’t get this feeling of dread out of the pit of my stomach when I considered my daughter’s life and the effects of that extra chromosome, I still wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper about World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. I still joined my voice to countless others fighting to help the world see their children as they should: children. Normal children who may need a little extra help in certain areas, but who have so much to offer, who are productive members of society if only those around them would take the time, and provide opportunities for them to display it.
I guess this year I’m just tired of convincing the world of my children’s worth.
As a special needs mom, my life is filled with advocacy, and fighting, and working to help my girls reach their God-given potential, and making sure they get fair shakes at life.
My friend wrote this great post the other day about how Down syndrome must lead to action. To paraphrase (and you really should go read her post, because it puts much, much better), it is nice when kids with Down syndrome are acknowledged, and even appreciated. But what they need, what WE as their families need, is for society as a whole to pick up the flag of advocacy.
If you are reading this post today on World Down Syndrome Day 2013, and you like, or love, or appreciate Polly and Evangeline, then I ask you to raise your flag. Appreciate my girls. Love my girls. And please, stand up and fight for my girls.
I ask you to act on what you now know, what you are aware of. The next time you are in your child’s classroom, look around. Do you see any children with Down syndrome or other Neuro or physical differences there? No? Ask the teacher, ask the principal, “Where are they? Why are they not with my kids?” Tell them that you believe in the equality of all people, and the rights of children like mine to be educated in regular classrooms alongside their peers (your children).
What I love about my two daughters with Down syndrome, and what I want others to know about them is simple:
They are normal little girls, made of the stuff other little girls have, flesh, blood, love, laughter, selfishness, wonder, mischief, curiosity, impatience … When Polly was born I ignorantly assumed she would not be a typical little girl. I made the mistake of thinking she would not be the little girl I wanted. But her presence in my life and the God-ordained appearance of her sister Evangeline through international adoption from Ukraine daily eradicates my pre-conceived notions about individuals with disabilities. Sure, my girls have special needs. But they also have what I call “special powers,” the ability to love without limits, to smile at a new day without drudgery, and to teach this Mama over and over what really matters in life.
On World Down syndrome Day, I ask you to remember that regardless of a child’s ability or disability, she is a child first, and should be empowered and celebrated all the days of her life. If forced to point out differences about my girls, well then, they have ample supply of the good parts of the human heart, gifts from God himself to reveal his glory: joy, love, kindness, courage, endurance. Pay attention to my daughters, and to what they have to offer, because these are the things that most of us find wanting in ourselves.
Want to read more about WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY? Here’s more: