Thursday, March 21, 2013

World Down Syndrome Day

It's been quite a while since I've thought of that first day in 1976, when I learned what Down syndrome was for sure, the day the pediatrician at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver murmured the words "mongoloid" and "consider an institution" all in one sentence. My third child had just been born six weeks prematurely and all I wanted to do was thank God for this creature who was fearfully and wonderfully made, regardless of the labels or warnings about life ahead.

And that's what I did. I put on scrubs, mask, gloves, cap and footsies and entered the neonatal intensive care unit to meet Hannah, to slip my hand into the incubator where this scrawny, 3-lbs, 12 oz. infant grabbed hold of my pinky with all her might as if to say, "Nice to meet you, Dad!" At that moment, regardless of her condition, I knew God had not made a mistake. She was exactly who she was created to be.

And that's the way I learned about Down syndrome, from a loving daughter who to this day has never met a stranger, who has always "loved her neighbor," and who now, despite the miles between us, has never let go of my finger or my heart.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day, Hannah!

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