Da da! Da da! She turns her head toward the front door, drops her toys, stands up and makes her way quickly to greet her Daddy before he can even close the door. It will be difficult for me to sum up in 500 words the description of the love and the indescribable bond between my husband Chad, and our firstborn three-year-old daughter Maddie, who has Down syndrome.
He believed in her from the moment we found out she existed, the moment the doctor told us she had that magical extra chromosome and the moment I called him, hysterical after the news she was also hearing impaired. He truly knew Maddie would be everything we ever wanted in a little girl, even in the early days of her life when I kept asking the question "why us?" I heard someone once say that there is a difference between being a father and being a dad. I never fully understood this until I watched this man I loved so much before we had children together become a father.
Every day, Chad walks in from his 10-12 hour work day, he and Maddie greet each other with huge hugs and kisses. Her baby sister Presley is next and then mama. Her first word was "Dada" and she can spot him a mile away. When she first started walking she would roam the house saying "dad", and of course our two bathrooms were the first places she would look for him. She took her first steps the night before her daddy's 34th birthday so he would be home to see. Chad plays babies with her, reads her books, taught her how to dunk a basketball and even sings and dances to Justin Bieber with her! He isn't afraid of poopy diapers and has frequently been the one to get up with her in the middle of the night when she is sick.
He dedicates what little spare time he has to helping to enrich the lives of other people with Down syndrome. Chad has played an active role starting our local Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome (DADS) chapter in Orlando, FL, a support group for men who have a loved one with Down syndrome. It’s been an indescribable experience to witness his positive outlook empower other men who might not otherwise have hope for a bright future. Yes, Chad is Maddie's father in literal terms but I believe with all my heart my husband has been put on this earth to be Maddie's dad.