DAILY LIVING & MOBILITY

Our Million Dollar Family

Down Syndrome

Katie Carper

Family Life

Shortly after I gave birth to our second child--a boy--someone said to me, "Well, you've got the million dollar family now: one girl, one boy." While I understood the sentiment  behind that comment, it bothered me. It felt cliche--an assumption about our family that didn't ring true.

When my husband & I dreamed of our future, we never envisioned the stereotypical family with equal gender representation and matching brown eyes. We just figured we'd have a few kids (however they came to us) and that would be that.

Life Questions & Dreams

In the fall of 2012, when that second child was three years old, we began to rethink the direction of our lives. We wrestled through tough questions like, "What is God leading our family to do? Are we willing to parent more children in need of a home? Are we selfishly focused on comfort and raising 'easy' kids? What do we want our lives to be about?" The answer to some of those questions and prayers and conversations came from our 5 year-old: "I had a dream last night that we brought 4 babies home to the brown house." She even had them named. Then she asked a question that still stalks me, "Mom, who will take those babies if we don't?"

The Road to 3-21

In January of 2013, we began the home study process to adopt a child with Down syndrome. After researching domestic adoption, we learned that most kids with special needs live for years in foster care or are never born because their birth parents feel overwhelmed by a difficult diagnosis and choose to terminate. We wanted to offer a more hopeful alternative for these families.

In May of 2013, our home study was approved and we registered with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, an organization that matches birth parents and adoptive parents specifically looking to adopt a child with Ds. One tumultuous year later, just after Mother's Day, we were matched with an incredibly brave and kind birth family.

He's Here: Samuel Creed

The summer of 2013 was full of phone calls to lawyers, finalizing details with our adoption agency, making arrangements to be out of town indefinitely, maintaining contact with our son's birth family, and 'nesting'. In early August, we left our home state to meet our son's birth family. We are grateful for the time we had with his birth parents, to hear their stories, to hug their necks--to thank them for this precious gift.

Then we walked to the NICU to meet our Samuel Creed. He was perfect from head-to-toe. I marveled at his dark hair, almond-shaped eyes, his adorable tongue sticking out against his pouty lip, and his gorgeous mocha-colored skin. His chunky legs kicked at the wires and I noticed the characteristic gap between his first and second toes. I breathed a prayer of thanks for this tiny soul, so beautifully made by the One who led us to him.

Finally Home: We Did Win The Lottery

Less than 24 hours after his birth, Sam had surgery to correct an GI issue. We lived out of state for nearly a month while we waited for him to recover in the NICU and for the legal paperwork to be processed. Then that surprise phone call came from our social worker, "Guess what?! You can go home! This is amazing! Paperwork never moves this quickly across this state." Stunned but rejoicing, we packed up our bags, loaded the car, and left within the hour.

Here we are 3 1/2 years later: Sam is no longer a baby. Like many toddlers, he is full of mischief and wonder. He teases his siblings, shakes his booty when the music starts, splashes water outside the tub, and experiments with markers on his face. He is running and babbling, laughing and 'reading'. He attends preschool, works with his various therapists, paints and colors, and loves to be tickled and snuggled.

Sam is an absolute delight in our lives and though I'm convinced the 'million dollar family' is a myth, I do feel like we've won the lottery.

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