In recognition of Down Syndrome Acceptance Month, we are sharing one of our GiGi’s Families International Journey of adoption to bring McKenzie home from the Ukraine to the United States. This is an incredible testimonial of Generation G; acceptance, kindness, and generosity.
“What Makes You Different, Makes You Beautiful”
“As a family, we have always had a special connection to children and adults with special needs or different abilities. We have always been believers in “inclusion” and that every person deserves an opportunity no matter their differences. For years now, we have felt that we were meant to do something bigger, give back, volunteer, foster children … just make a difference in people’s lives… what we didn’t know until the moment we saw her face and read her story, was that we would be adopting a baby! Not only adopting a baby, but going to Ukraine, to adopt a baby that was abandoned at birth due to the diagnosis of Down syndrome and heart defect. Internationally, the people don’t yet believe that every child deserves a chance. They don’t have inclusion in schools. They don’t have the resources to help people with different abilities. And worst of all, most believe that if you are not “normal” then you are worthless. And that alone, is just heartbreaking.
She deserved a real chance at life, like every other child. But with a diagnosis of Down syndrome, it meant potential medical issues that were beyond intimidating. We were coming from a typical busy lifestyle with 3 healthy biological children (18,16,10) so what we were about to encounter was stepping out of our realm of knowledge and experience. We had underlying fears that naturally go along with it … what if she is very sick and we couldn’t nurse her back to health? What if it is more than we could handle? What if our other children come to resent us for bringing home a sick baby? What if she never speaks or never walks? Our minds filled with fears… but that didn’t stop us. Life takes you on unexpected journeys, with no explanation, and this was one of the journeys that we were meant to be on.
We spent time learning everything we could about Down syndrome. We talked to local Down syndrome organizations, met other families that had a child with Down syndrome, talked to doctors, and more. We educated our family about Down syndrome to ensure that they understood the ups and downs, the potential medical issues, but most of all … that a child with Down syndrome was like having any other child and shouldn’t be treated differently. We strongly believe “what makes you different makes you beautiful” and we wanted everyone to feel that way too!
6 months after signing commitment paperwork we are off to Ukraine to meet our new baby! We experienced such a rush of emotions! Meeting this baby that we fell in love with through an on-line picture was an unreal feeling, something that cannot be put into words. However, the poor thing was sick, underweight, malnourished, dehydrated, emotionless, but the cutest little baby you had ever seen. Her world was about to become bright. And so was ours!!!
Today she has been home with us for 11 months now and is the light of all of our lives. She has this special spirit about her and incredible determination. She loves like any other child and she throws tantrums like any 2 year old. She has a special glimmer in her eyes and strength like no other.
Kenzie may have had a late start at life and a diagnosis of Down syndrome, but that will never hold her back in life.”
By Kenzie’s Mom, Diana.