My daughter, my angel... This is my personal story of what it is like having a child with Down syndrome. Before Angela was born, I had no idea that she would have Down syndrome. The joy of having my first baby was soon overshadowed by the news that my daughter was not going to be "normal" and would face many challenges in her life. My family and I decided that whatever challenges this little girl would have, we were going to take her home and love her and help her all we could to reach her full potential as a human being. Those first few weeks and months were a roller coaster ride of emotions for my family and me especially. Most dads go to work and have other things that occupy their time, but us moms are the ones that face the challenges day in and day out with our kids. Sometimes I would be able to go about my day caring for the needs of Angela like any mother would do with a new baby, but at other times I was filled with sadness and disappointment and even a little scared of what the future would hold. During the nine months you wait for your child to be born, you dream, plan and envision what your child's life will be like, who they will become, what accomplishments they will achieve. It seemed as though all those dreams and hopes had died with Angela's diagnosis. With the help and support of family and friends I tried to focus on the positive and being the best parent I could be. One of the first things I did was to educate myself about Down syndrome. I drew strength from sharing with others who had children with Down syndrome and I also learned what to expect in the various stages of my daughter's development. My daughter Angela is now 15 years old. She doesn't go to the movies by herself, take the bus or accomplish many of the things other young girls her age have done, but she has far exceeded the expectations I was given those 15 years ago. Angela bowls weekly and has an average score of 120. She swims with the Special Olympics, she rows with the Row NY program in Flushing Meadow Lake every Saturday, she goes to our local church, movie theater, she attends summer camps, dances and other social and community events. Every year we go to Colombia, Florida, to the beach, parks, amusements parks, etc. Contrary to what some people say about the poor quality of people with Down syndrome, you could never convince Angela and her friends that they do not have fun and fulfilling lives.
Angela and her friends have taught me some very valuable lessons like learning to love and accept people unconditionally, patience and realizing that individuals with disabilities have feelings and emotions just like other people do. My life has been blessed in many ways by my daughter Angela. Angela, I love you.