Last week, I wrote about a case, reported on the CNN Belief Blog, involving a church’s effort to find parents to adopt an unborn baby believed to have Down syndrome. The biological parents planned to have an abortion if adoptive parents could not be found. After reading the church’s message on Facebook, hundreds of couples contacted the church with adoption offers.
While this outpouring of offers may have amazed some readers, Linda Nargi, executive director of the International Down Syndrome Coalition, was not surprised at all. A mother of four, Nargi of Colorado Springs, Colorado talked to me about children with Down syndrome and the public’s misconceptions.
Lynne: Why were you not surprised by the number of inquiries from people who were interested in adopting the unborn baby?
Linda: It doesn’t surprise me because the (Down syndrome) adoption community is small. We are very tight knit. We look out for each other. If a couple got a prenatal diagnosis and they knew they wouldn’t keep the baby, our community would rally. We saw that.
Sometimes the general public has a different view of people with Down syndrome because they just don’t know. We know their lives are precious and worth saving.
My 2-year-old girl, Lexi, is adopted. I found her on a Facebook post. She has Down syndrome. My 6-year-old, Lila, has Down syndrome as well. We got a prenatal diagnosis with her. She’s our biological child.
Lynne: Why did you adopt a child?
Linda: We weren’t looking to adopt at the time. It’s a very funny story. I was going through Facebook one day and saw a baby with Down syndrome who needed a forever family. I knew there would be a lot of people interested in adopting that baby. There are waiting lists of people waiting to adopt a child with Down syndrome. People don’t realize that.
A couple of months ago, our adoption attorney contacted me about a baby boy (with Down syndrome). All I did was make a Facebook post and I had 20 some people contact me (expressing an interest in adopting the boy).
Kids with Down syndrome are loved, cherished and wanted. That’s not just a cliché. It’s proven all the time when cases come up. People want to put their name in (to adopt the children).
Lynne: What do potential parents need to know before they adopt a baby with Down syndrome?
Linda: You have to be realistic and know raising a child with Down syndrome will have its challenges. It has a lot of joy and blessings. I also raised two typical kids and they were challenging as well. All kids come with challenges. (Linda laughed.)
Lynne: What are the misconceptions about children with Down syndrome?
Linda: I think it’s the age old, in-the-past idea, where when people with Down syndrome were born, doctors would say, ‘you have to put this child in an institution. The child has no potential.’ Now we know people with Down syndrome have lots of potential. They didn’t know that in the past. We’re starting to debunk those myths but it will take a long time.
That story (on the CNN Belief Blog) opened people’s eyes. The fact CNN grabbed on to that story gave it a lot of exposure.