Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introduction to Ceramics, Failure of Administrators

The DS-lovin' part of the blogosphere has been chattering this week about Eliza Schaff. She is a young woman with Down Syndrome that took an Introduction to Ceramics class and was removed from the class by school administrators - with just two classes left!

As more children are included in our schools as they grow up, we need to be prepared to offer them the chance to continue their education and pursue their interests as adults. So what do you think? There are several ways to think about this, and lots of points to ponder.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dreams & Opportunities

I dream of what the future holds for our family, of what paths each of the kiddos will choose. I've got to confess that I worry a bit about what opportunities will be available to Ainsley. I read about a young man who is working at a hospital. He's not a nurse or a doctor. But seeing him there, talking with families and showing them around may help ease some of their fears more than anything that is said to them during the actual appointment.

Hooray for Ben! I hope that more opportunities like these are available to our fabulous kiddos!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

21 Things about Ainsley

1. If you ask her what her name is, she tries to say "Bean." We've called her Beanie since before she was born.

2. Ainsley is a Daddy's girl. She will rush the front door when he comes in, yelling "Daaaaa!!" and demanding hugs.

3. Her favorite food is yogurt. Any flavor. She will open the fridge herself, get a yogurt out, then go get a spoon. So glad she can't open them yet!

4. A very close second favorite is cheese.

5. Ainsley knows how to turn on the iPod, unlock it, and go play "her" games.

6. Her cheeks get very, very dry as soon as the humidity starts getting low. Before the weather gets cold, she'll already have cheeks that look chapped. We've tried a crazy number of lotions & creams trying to find one that works well without multiple daily applications or greasy cheeks.

7. Beanie doesn't like having her hair done each morning, but seems to really enjoy it when people tell her how nice she looks. She understands compliments and loves to get them!

8. "Baby Signing Time" is her favorite thing to watch and she'll ask for it by signing it.

9. We're still teaching her how to drink out of a regular cup. She likes to put her tongue on the top and that can be pretty messy.

10. She was born with an AV Canal defect. Her little heart was repaired October 26, 2007, a day before she was 3-months old. When that anniversary came & went, and we didn't realize until the next day, it was an amazing feeling to not have to worry about her heart anymore. What a blessing!!

11. After baths, I like to turn on the radio & have a dance party with the kiddos. Ainsley is a great dancer and loves to show us her moves. And then she gets upset when she has to stop so that I can do her hair.

12. She likes to brush her teeth. On. Her. Own. Do NOT try to take the first turn or she'll get mad. So she brushes first, then we follow up.

13. While we're talking about baths, she HATES it when I have to get her hair wet. Even when we get her to tilt her head back so the water doesn't run in her face, she still gets mad and tries to climb out.

14. She's allergic to egg whites and tree nuts.

15. Beanie loves spicy food. Buffalo chicken pizza is one of her favorites.

16. She likes to go to bed with a book. She'll crawl up onto the sofa with a book & sit there and look at each page. We love that she loves to "read" already!

17. Bean knows her schedule at school and notices if something changes. She receives PT, OT, and Speech services. Luckily, she doesn't miss much in her classroom. And she's doing soooo well in school!

18. She wears a 3T or 4T top, depending on the length. Her pants are 24 month or 2T. Shoes are 7W.

19. Ainsley likes to play with puzzles, Little People, a mini tool bench, and tries to get to Gavin's Legos.

20. She does chores like feeding Abby, putting everyone's shoes away in the closet, and picking up the dirty clothes from the bathroom floor after their bath.

21. Ainsley is a local celebrity. Whenever we're out, people wave & tell her "Hi, Ainsley!" And these are sometimes people that we don't recognize. But we always knew that she's a pretty big deal!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hooray for Parents!

For the past 2 months, Parents magazine has run two great stories about raising a child with Down Syndrome.

Read them here and here.

I follow Kelle's blog - it is one of my favorites! Nella is beautiful and so very, very loved, as is her sister Lainey. The link to Kelle's blog is to the real beginning of her story: Nella's birth story. If you've never read it, it's amazing and brings tears to my eyes each time I read it. Yes, I've read it several times.

Thank you to Parents magazine for featuring two positive stories about real families that are raising a child with Down Syndrome. Hooray for our beautiful children, no matter how many chromosomes they have!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monica & David

Monica & David is a documentary showing on HBO about a wedding. Except the bride & groom both have Down Syndrome.

My mom DVR'd this for me, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Will keep you posted on how I liked it.

I've always prayed for God to have His hand on the children that will grow up to become my children's spouses. This gives me hope that there are other parents out there that will one day support their son's dream to marry Ainsley. As more children with Down Syndrome are included in society, supporting their dreams of love and marriage is part of that natural progression.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beautiful Anya

The Reece's Rainbow family is mourning the loss of a beautiful little girl that we knew as Anne Marie. Her real name was Anya and she was waiting for her forever family. She was in an orphanage, probably abandoned because of her diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

Her birthday was November 25, 2005. She was almost 5 years old. She spent most of her days in her crib. The workers at the orphanage wouldn't let her crawl or play, explaining that it was too hard on her heart. That poor little heart of hers never got the chance to know what it felt like to be loved by a mommy or daddy, brothers or sisters.

Anya was placed in a low-stimulation room. And that's where she stayed. To families that visited to pick up their angels that asked about her, the workers waved her off as if she wasn't worth their time.

She is now with her Heavenly Father that has more love for her than she's ever known. He will hold her close and give her the love that she was never shown here on Earth. Please pray for the children in these and other orphanages, that their families will find them quickly and bring them home to shower them with the love and hugs that they have been missing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Down Syndrome Adoption

I am reposting this article because it's something that we believe that more families could consider supporting, even if they are unable to adopt a(nother) child.

Down Syndrome Adoption Q & A in Down Syndrome Adoption

Today we continue our visit with Andrea Roberts, executive director of Reece’s Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Ministry (to acquaint yourself with Reece’s Rainbow, please read my previous post, “Adopting a Child With Down Syndrome”).

Laura Christianson: Reece’s Rainbow helps families adopt children who have Down syndrome. Your focus is on international adoption. Do you help with domestic, U.S. placements, as well?

Andrea Roberts: There are almost 200 families who are “paper ready” and on a waiting list to adopt domestic children with Down syndrome. Robin Steele, who works with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, is the point person for all domestic adoptions. She is also in touch with a lot of attorneys who can facilitate private, domestic adoptions of children with Down syndrome.

LC: Why does Reece’s Rainbow focus exclusively on international adoptions?

AR: In Central and Eastern European countries alone (including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, etc., but not Russia), there are more than 1.5 million children who have been abandoned by their families for one reason or another and are living in “public care” (that’s the nice way to put it). If statistically, 1 out of every 733 live births results in a child with Down syndrome, that means at any given time there are 2,046 children with Down syndrome who need families. And that’s just in Europe! Some do not survive because of serious medical complications, lack of medical attention, lack of food, and/or lack of love.
In many of these countries, there is no place in society for children born with Down syndrome. They get dumped in orphanages out of shame and fear. The children with special needs go to the same baby houses until they turn 4; they are then sent to special orphanages for children with physical or cognitive challenges – whoever isn’t perfect gets dumped.
In Russia, these orphanages are closed; once the child is transferred, he or she is no longer eligible to be adopted. In Ukraine, however, children living in those orphanages are eligible to be adopted until they are 16. It’s important that we get these children out of the orphanages before it’s too late. When people become aware of the future they can prevent by adopting one of these children, it motivates them.

LC: What are some other reasons people adopt children who have Down syndrome?

AR: There are two different kinds of people who adopt:
People who have fertility issues and want healthy newborns.
Parents who have a biological child with Down syndrome. They have lived and learned the blessing that these children are.
These children bring more joy than I can describe. Like any child, each child with Down syndrome has his or her own personality and challenges. Families who have had experience with children who have Down syndrome often say, “Give me more of what we’ve got.” We have a family who is in the process of adopting their fourth child with Down syndrome from Colombia.
We are working with three other families who do not have a child with Down syndrome. They simply have a heart and a calling, so they are taking a leap of faith.
Some families are special education teachers. They spend a lot of time with these kids and say, “I want one of my own.”
So there are lots of different scenarios, but the families who adopt have the same heart—they understand what these children bring to the world.

LC: What are some of the challenges of parenting a child with Down syndrome?

AR: Down syndrome is a condition also known as Trisomy 21. It’s caused by an extra copy of all or part of chromosome 21. That causes different issues, in varying degrees, with different children. Yes, you need to get therapy for your child and find special ed classes. You live a different lifestyle, but you adjust.

LC: How are you working with social service agencies in other countries to make it easier for families to adopt children with Down syndrome?

AR: More people would adopt if they could afford it and if they didn’t have to spend six weeks in-country. Most people who adopt children with special needs already have multiple children at home, with or without special needs. The travel requirements prohibit many from making the choice to adopt internationally. We’re reaching out to social services in these countries to encourage them to modify the adoption process or the required time parent has to spend in-country.

LC: Explain your Child of the Month project.

AR: On the first day of every month, one child who is in exceptional need of a family is featured as the Reece’s Rainbow Child of the Month. People can donate $10 a month to go into the adoption grant fund of each child of the month. $10 may not seem like it would make a difference, but collectively, it does.

LC: Tell us about your Yahoo! Group.

AR: The Reece’s Rainbow Yahoo! Group currently has 108 members and is used to keep people abreast of new waiting children and to make announcements about new programs. Many wonderful supporters have joined our Yahoo! group.

LC: How can people contact you for more information?

AR: Visit, donate by check to Reece’s Rainbow, PO Box 2055, Dacula, GA 30019-9998, or e-mail Andrea Roberts at

For more news and information about adoption, visit, andcheck out my ExploringAdoption bookstore.