I think living my life in suburbia with my two "healthy" boys driving my minivan to and from all of their activities, I was sheltered....I was in a bubble of sorts. Yes, I knew of the world around me. I watched the news, read the paper, cried through news stories of people with hardships, but none of that had touched me.
No....I am NOT saying Hailey having DS is one of those hardships. I wasn't aware of the statistics in regards to the number of pregnancies terminated when DS is diagnosed prenatally. 9 out 10 are terminated. That number hit me hard. Granted, not all children are diagnosed prenatally. There are a lot, like Hailey, that were diagnosed at birth.
There was something else that shocked me. I wasn't aware of what was taking place in other countries with the children born there with a disability. In many countries, children born with Down syndrome and a number of other disabilities are put into orphanages. After several years, they "age" out and are moved into mental institutions. These children are viewed as outcasts with no ability to learn or be functional members of society. They are hidden away from the world in shame.
There is a fabulous organization, Reese's Rainbow, that works to get these children adopted. Many people are not in a position to adopt a child but can make a donation to change a child's life by helping adoptive families afford the costs of international adoption. A wonderful blogger is on a mission this October (Down syndrome awareness month). Patti, mom to adorable Lily, is asking everyone to donate $5 to help Artem find his family. Her goal is for his grant to get to $10,000 by the end of October. You can read about it here. His adoption grant is up to $8270! I looked at pictures of Artem, then Lily and finally looked at the precious face of Hailey and had to donate myself. You, too, can help Artem find a family!
I recently was told a story about a couple living in southern Ohio who came to the United States to attend school. While they were in the US, they conceived a child. Once the child was born, they found out he had Down syndrome. Their student visas are now up and they are returning to their native country. Unfortunately, the couple and their child will be disowned when they return. They felt they felt they had no choice but to put their son up for adoption. I can't imagine living in a country that wouldn't accept Hailey. I can't imagine my family disowning me because my child has Down syndrome. Fortunately, before they left the United States, parents were found for this precious little boy.
I honestly had never heard of Reece's Rainbow until a few months ago. Having Hailey has made me so much aware of the world around us. Every day life that I didn't see because it didn't affect me, I was uneducated and I was unaware. The United States has come a very long way with the way people with disabilities are treated but even we could work harder. What happens in other countries, though, blows my mind.
I pray that as Hailey grows up the United States (and the world) continue to move toward total inclusion not only in education but also in society. That Hailey is seen as an equal and a valuable member of society.
Here are a few pics of Hailey "reading" her book "I Can, Can You?" A wonderful board book filled with pictures of beautiful children who also have an additional chromosome.