March 21 is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, internationally recognized as a day to celebrate individuals with three copies of the 21st chromosome. There are more than 400,000 individuals with Down syndrome in the United States alone, and their families celebrate this day and continue to make efforts to make the world a more accepting place for individuals with special needs. Joining that celebration, here are 10 things parents have learned through raising a child with Down syndrome.
"Since having Addison I have learned to slow down, smell the flowers and celebrate all the small victories."
"I've learned that sometimes life doesn't go exactly as you have planned... sometimes it's even greater."
"I've learned that true beauty cannot be confined to limits—not to a number on a scale, a body type or specific facial features. Physical beauty exists in every human and shines through in our uniqueness. Oh, and almond eyes? They're gorgeous."
"What has Millie taught me? That there ain't no hug like a hypotonia hug!"
"Eli's given us the opportunity to learn compassion for others by experiencing hands-on. We are able to see the value that God sees in every person—a gift of clarity."
"I have learned as much about myself as I have about Sarah since having her."
"I've learned not to underestimate anyone—not myself, not my children, not people around me. All of those scenarios where we think 'I could never...'? Yes we could. We are all so very capable of accepting challenges. As parents, we have so many hidden reserves of strength and love. And our children? They will constantly surprise us in incredible ways."
"Having Quinn has taught me to expect greatness. And hugs really should be a social requirement."
"Since having JJ I have learned what unconditional love really is."
"I've learned that my daughter's personality can't be confined to a stereotype. Lily is precocious, mischievous, engaging and connected. And she makes us laugh."