The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
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Albita, Our Sunshine
Albita on her 25th Birthday All Glitter and Glam
Albita on her 25th Birthday All Glitter and Glam
Albita, Our Sunshine

As the very protective eldest sister, I was quite upset that we couldn’t see my newborn sister in the hospital when we finally got there. I overheard them throw around words like “Down syndrome,” “mentally retarded,” “slow,” “fragile,” “sickly” and “institution” without really understanding what that meant. All I knew was that I had to meet her, we had already waited so long. While the adults were looking through the impossibly tall glass of the neonatal intensive unit, I snuck in to find her. Busy nurses were oblivious, after checking each baby’s nametag, I finally found her! She was ever so delicately little, laying in her crib, her tiny feet kicked and hands reached out, in response to my voice, just like when she was in my mother’s tummy. She looked perfect to me, beautiful even. I didn’t understand all the adult fuss and concern. My parent’s decided to name her Alba, after my mother, the name means dawn or aurora, and we call her Albita. As we got older, I learned that initially my parents were told that my sister, Albita, wouldn’t live long and would need lots of care my parents wouldn’t be able to provide. “Experts” even tried to convince my parents to surrender her to the state because they thought that with my parents' language barriers and lack of knowledge of Down syndrome they wouldn’t be the best caregivers. 25 years later I can tell you all those “experts” were very wrong. Initially things were a bit challenging, learning things like occupational therapy, speech therapy, exercises to practice at home, finding different ways of teaching Albita how to do things but then thanks to amazing teachers and therapist, it was just became our new normal. I have watched Albita the last 25 years of her life, grow up into an inspirational young woman, she graduated from high school and attended vocational school, she works five days a week, is an active member of her church by participating in their singing group and helps collect and count money from the offering plate. She assists with interpreting at school and at work in Spanish or English. She has been in a steady relationship with an awesome young man named Adam (and by the way gives great relationship advice). She is a caring, loving sister to me, Artemia and her younger sister Jessie, and breaks the stereotypes as a walking, living, breathing educational experience to our local community, especially the Hispanic community, about people with Down syndrome. Albita came into our lives labeled with all sorts of negatives, but instead we were given a treasure that has no end. Albita’s love has no boundaries, no limits to forgiveness, challenges our creativity, makes us appreciate the fun in life, turns our deepest frowns upside down, can always teach us a new dance step and sings with the most amazing joy. So I am thankful each and every day for that extra chromosome, because every day with Albita brings us sunshine no matter what the weather outside is.

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