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Happy World Down Syndrome Day!


Five years ago we sat in the office of a maternal fetal specialist and heard the news that our first child, our little baby boy, most likely had Down Syndrome.



Five years ago our life changed, our perspective shifted.


Also, five years ago (unbeknownst to us) our little Miss Y was born across the ocean.



Five years ago I gave birth to a little boy who did not have Down Syndrome but had brought us on an unforgettable journey.



Fast forward a few years.


Today, because of that journey, because of Reece’s Rainbow, because of so many amazing people, because our hearts were open to a child with Down Syndrome and then with other special needs, we now have sweet Y. A child once considered un-perfect, damaged, unwanted, is now loved immensely. Funny how five years ago as she was being born across the world, the love that would lead us to her was just being planted in our hearts.



As if all that were not enough….Today, because of that journey, our hearts and eyes were opened to a little girl we hope to soon have home in our arms. A tiny little bundle of cuteness, likely abandoned at the hospital simply for having an extra chromosome. An adorable child, just a baby, now alone because of something so simple. But, five years ago, before she was born, we started walking toward her. That blows my mind.



Thank you Lord for this journey.


And with all that, I say…..


Happy World Down Syndrome Day! Open your eyes today. Open your heart today. You never know where it will take you.


I love this video.

I love this video because it educates, because it shows love and because it’s true. But I also hate that it needs to be made, that stating the obvious in necessary. I hate that the statistics say that 90%+ of those who find out prenatally that their baby *might* have Down Syndrome choose to abort that baby. Wow. I hate that those parents don’t know what I know. I got that diagnosis. I sat in that chair. I was told my baby likely had Down Syndrome. But I already knew. I knew about the perfect life God makes. I knew about the chromosomes He chooses. I knew about chance and luck and how it played no part in this. I knew. I wish they knew too. And beyond that, I wish they knew that things that look scary from the outside, are often kind of amazing and wonderful once you get past the fear.

March 17, 2014 - 1:49 pm

Susan Hostetler - I love the video too! When my daughter was born I was scared I was not up to the task of raising her. I was, though, and now 8 years later she brings me so much joy. She has rearranged my life in the best way possible. And has also shown me my own strength.

March 17, 2014 - 1:52 pm

Fly Like A Bee - Thanks for sharing Susan! Awesome to hear stories of fear turning into total joy! <3

A New Kind Of Happy

Remember this girl??

She’s kind of gone. See the pain and uncertainty in her eyes? That seems to be MIA. You see, we’re dealing with an overload of happy here. A plethora of giggles. A big ol’ load of love. We’re dealing with mornings that start with “Oh! Good morning mama! Did you have a good sleep??” (insert adorable accent) and nights that end with “Y is mama’s baby? Yes? Oh, I love you soooo much mama!” We’re dealing with days of learning how to sign “hang loose”…

and willing little hands and encouraging words to guide each other.

And it’s all just amazing.

It’s not that miss Y was overly unhappy before. It’s not that she was in a horrifically terrible place. Her caretakers loved her and cared for her as much as they could. She wasn’t shut down completely. She wasn’t starved. But an orphanage is no family. Sure, she was often the silly, smiley girl that we now see every day…

(this was the first time I heard her true giggle instead of a forced laugh. I will never forget that moment). BUT, she was also hard, constantly on alert, and ultimately, she was alone. (Or so she thought.)

We’d have an hour of giggles and laughter and goofiness, and then she’s retreat to a seriousness that a child shouldn’t know. She needed that seriousness to keep herself together. It was her protection.

And then we’d break it away again. Laugh again. Hug again. Hope again. And the little girl I knew was inside would come out for a while. She’d relax and let down her guard for a while. She’d try to love for a while (even if it was sometimes a little floppy-ish:))

And then we were home. Those first few weeks were long. There were hard days. Days when this child seemed so closed off, so shut tight, that it seemed we might never open her heart. Days when we were sleep-deprived and emotionally exhausted. Days when the stimulation of a new home and so much change were just too much for her to process.

Then something funny happened. The days ran together into weeks, and the weeks into a few short months. And I don’t remember each day, each struggle, because they started to become normal. Normally happy. The stuggles faded. The locked up little heart of a five year old opened. I started to notice that her hugs were tighter and her body melted into me instead of remaining stiff. Her eyes looked to us for guidence and her feet followed wherever we would go. And then it just hit me one day. We were living in a realm of happy. Just straight-up, overwhelming happiness. A kind of happiness where this girl smiles more often than not, where we go days without tears, and where I see less and less impact of a hard beginning and more and more impact of a solid kind of love. A love we could have never displayed on our own, but only with the strength of a great and merciful God who first loved us.

And so today, our day was filled with lots of happy normalness and a carefree girl who fits perfectly into that kind of day. It’s a new kind of happy for her. A solid, this-ain’t-going-anywhere, I-don’t-have-to-keep-this-in-check kind of happiness. And I absolutely love it.

And I absolutely love her.



Little Miss Gianna Natalia….

I can’t forget their tiny faces. Their innocent smiles. The daily shouts of “mama? papa?” The pain in a 4 year old’s eyes pushed aside for the hope of a hug.  I’ll never forget the confusion in the eyes of a girl who has laid alone in a room for years. Confusion because someone finally is talking to her, touching her hand, making her laugh.

I’ll never forget the sinking feeling as my eyes frantically scan the room, searching for two precious sisters and slowly realizing that they were gone. Six years old and transferred to an adult mental institution. Six years old.

I’ll never forget watching a tiny baby through a window. A baby kept in a room as big as my closet. I’ll never forget his smile and constant gaze. The way his eyes were glued to me and my heart longed to scoop him up if just for a moment.

I’ll never forget the nannies who love with all their hearts. Who work for close to nothing but work hard. Who stood outside as we left the orphanage to see a girl they had watched grow for 5 years drive away forever. I’ll never forget the nannies who sing, count, feed, diaper, and hug. I am forever grateful for women like that, but I’ll never forget that it’s not enough. It’s not a family.

And so I’ll move. When it’s not easy. When it’s not comfortable. I’ll move. I’ll care. I’ll go.

In the words of my friend, “One life to live. Lord, use me all up.”

Meet miss Gianna Natalia :





Our girl is HOME! We could not thank you all enough for your prayers, love, and support throughout our journey. I know I neglected this poor blog but I hope that those of you who donated, prayed, and cared for our sweet girlie will see that she is home! She is silly, smart, determined, silly, beautiful, kind, and did I mention silly??? She is adjusting well, enjoying her new siblings, learning tons of English, and teaching us plenty of Russian. She is amazing and so loved. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those that helped us bring her home….words could never express our gratitude.



November 16, 2013 - 4:53 pm

Sandy - She is cute cute. What wonderful picture. I can’t believe how much she has changed from her RR picture