A few years ago, I made an immediate decision that I was unprepared for, and quite frankly, unsure of. I spoke of something I had no knowledge of, but was sure of deep within my heart.

On the day our daughter was born we were told, in an abrupt manner, that she has Down Syndrome. We were shocked and had no idea how to process the information, let alone how this would affect our family.

As the days passed, I cried. Not tears of sadness, but tears of confusion. My love for this child was born of my soul, so pure and unwavering that nothing could change it. My precious gift from God was going to be uniquely beautiful; diagnosis or not.

When I spoke to my mom a day or so later, she asked me why I was crying. Without thinking of how to answer, I immediately said “because I don’t want the world to treat her differently”. I knew that no matter what I would ensure that she was treated for who she is.. just a girl. That a diagnosis would never define her.

My heart was full. Our family was complete. I may not have known at the time what our world would look like, yet I knew that God had his hands on us and we would live as normally as possible. This has been a decision that I’ve never questioned.

As the years have passed our family has stood by her; learning together, enjoying our differences, and celebrating our similarities.

There has been bumps in our road, many that I’ve written about, but not one that has ever led me to feel burdened or saddened by our life. On the contrary, we are insanely blessed!

A family dynamic is a glorious combination of personalities and unique perspectives.

As Ingrid grew, we were faced with an aspect of life that we weren’t used to. Advocating. As something I had little experience with, I knew I had to follow my instincts.

Being that I had made a very deliberate decision to not have Down Syndrome be what defines Ingrid, I had mixed feelings regarding advocating.

Of course, my daughter, my precious little girl would know that she was created by God to be special, but not in a way that is conventional.

She, just like each one of us, has a story that is all our own. No two people are the same and our differences should be celebrated, not shunned.

Alongside much controversy, I made the decision to decline all advocating. This will never be who she is. She is Ingrid. I am raising my children to see the value in human life, not because one person is this or that. Each child needs to feel honored, loved, and supported for who they are, not what a piece of paper says about them.

I fight for my kids. I speak up when necessary. And I make it known that I will always be there for them no matter what the situation is. As with any parent, my kids are my life. I will always and forever be their person.

On that note, I refuse to accentuate a negative image upon my child. I refuse to paint a picture of a difficult life for her; her life is her creation – however big and beautiful she chooses to create it! I will not glorify a life of struggles and hardship, when she is capable of amazing things. I will not create dramatic scenes of displacement to regard her as incapable. And I will never allow anyone else to imply that she cannot do anything she chooses.

Recently, I read a quote by Mother Theresa and it reminded me of exactly why we feel this way..

I want to create a world of love and peace for our children to grow and learn from. By advocating, I would be calling upon more judgement, darkness, separation, and sadness. A path I cannot be part of.

Sure, life has changed. It’s gotten better!

Our family is constructed of love, hope, peace, abundance, and adventure.

We choose to live life in light. To celebrate our differences, to be proud of who we are, and to love one another for our own special qualities.

We have taught our kids what Down Syndrome is. We have also taught them to treat others how they want to be treated.

They have not, nor will ever be taught to value (or otherwise) anyone based on differences, race, color, or anything that is not of a pure heart.

Each human being, no matter how big or small is a valuable part of our world, and deserves to be loved for who they are.

Enrich our lives with love, peace, unity and compassion.

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