Imagine being 23 years-old and expecting your first child. Jane says, “I will never forget the doctor’s words when he told my husband and me that our newborn daughter, Laura, had Down Syndrome, although he actually called it “mongoloidism.” Jane and her husband, Rob, were told that Laura might never walk or talk, and the doctor encouraged them to put her in an institution. Shock, disbelief and disappointment consumed them. But despite their fears, this special couple knew from the beginning that they would take her home and love her, and they have never looked back.
Jane said early intervention was key, and Laura started school at four months old. Her mother was always her greatest advocate for providing education and even served as her tutor and mentor throughout her education. She spent her preschool years in a Montessori School, early elementary years in a Catholic School for special needs children, and then later elementary through high school in public schools. As perhaps her greatest achievement, Laura completed a Teacher’s Assistant Certificate from a Community College by completing 30 semester hours. Laura has worked as a Teacher’s Assistant for 17 years at a local preschool. Simply put, Laura is amazing!
Six years after Laura’s birth, Jane and Rob took a leap of faith and had a son and he, too, loves and supports Laura. He realizes that he will be her caregiver if Jane and Rob pass away first. The family doesn’t bemoan the extra things they have to do, and Jane laughs that she is still a “carpool mom” for Laura.
Today, 41 years later, Laura has blossomed into an exceptional woman. She has exceeded every expectation that they had for her. While her development may have been delayed, her persistence to achieve goals has always been at the highest level. Laura went far beyond walking and talking, as she has won three silver medals in International Special Olympics Figure Skating and Basketball competitions.
Laura has come a long way since her grim prognosis at birth. God has been with her and her parents through each accomplishment – both large and small. The journey hasn’t always been easy, but their family has always felt truly blessed by their very special daughter.
What Has Helped Along the Way:
- Their unshakable faith that God would provide each step of the way.
- Their attitude: They realize that Laura’s pace is slower – they refer to it as “Laura’s speed.”
- Several excellent and compassionate teachers.
- The special poem, “Welcome to Holland.” See link below.
- Seeing a movie called, Kids Like These.
- Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
- Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.”
Dear Father, we never know where life will take us. Sometimes our disappointments turn out to be our biggest blessings. We thank you for the blessing of Laura and the tremendous joy she has brought to this family.
A lovely poem, “Welcome to Holland,” by Emily Perl Kingsley, (1987) talks about raising a child with a disability. Please click here to read this beautiful poem and learn more about Down Syndrome.