Monday, January 18, 2010

Finding Home Away From Home

Awhile back we went to Disneyland with the kids and I remember posting how shocked and sad I was to report that I did not see one child with DS in all of Disney. I was shocked by that.

Well, I'm happy to report, I saw not one but THREE children with Down syndrome on our recent trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. All three were very "normal" and happy families and the kids were absolutely darling. Two of the kiddos were babies Joaquin's age or younger and one boy was about 9 or 10 years old traveling with his American family.

It was such a joy for me. Two out of the three families, I wasn't able to make a connection with as they were either passing by or busy doing their own thing. But one family in particular I was able to not only meet but really connect with.

I had the pleasure of meeting Iliana and her parents and we spent some good quality time together. Mom was Romanian and Dad was from Argentina. Their daughter Iliana was born in Romania but was flown quickly to Italy to have heart surgery when her diagnosis was made because, as Dad put it, there was "no way in hell they were going to have her surgery done in Romania." Iliana is now 15 months old and they have a new baby boy who is almost 3 months old who was born in Veracruz, Mexico where they live now.

We spent a lot of time talking about how amazing it is to have a child with DS and we also did a lot of comparing on the services provided for a child with DS in the States vs a child in Mexico or in Eastern Europe. Dad is an international engineer of sorts and moves every 2-3 years so they are really hoping to move to the States in the near future to take advantage of the services. Mom is a psychologist and also had such great and deep thoughts to share about the joy of raising her daughter. We had so much in common as I think all of us parents do when we have a child with DS. I just loved it. I loved meeting them, playing and visiting with their family and watching Joaquin and Iliana play together.

It was like finding home away from home. And I think we'll have these experiences more often than not for the rest of our lives. I really feel fortunate.

11 comments:

Heather said...

Blessed and lucky are we .. only wish everyone felt that way for us.No pity please,how about envy instead?

What a wonderful vacation you guys had.Beautiful place.Beautiful people.

Lisa said...

I love that story :)

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

great story - I am happy to hear Iliana is doing so well and that her surgery in Italy was a success.

stephanie said...

Awesome! Where ever we are we will always share that common bond. Strangers are no longer strangers, but welcome faces.

Marcy said...

I'm surprised you saw none while at DS-it always seems like we see at least on when we are there. I'm glad you found some on this trip-and to connect so well is such a blessing. I have really enjoyed the pictures and stories of your trip. It looks like Juaquin just loved the ocean! Courtney always loves the sand.

Emily said...

Aren't we so lucky! It is so nice to have "family" no matter where we go! I love that and always will!

mlfont said...

when we were in Disney in Sept/Oct we saw LOTS of family with kids that had DS. It was interesting to me, we saw them with all ages and even many adults with DS. I knew it was God reminding me that I am not alone in this journey! I find myslef looking at kids everywhere I go these days..wanting to find someone else to share in the joruney! BTW, we love Playa, we honeymooned there! Blessings! Lara

Monica Crumley said...

Great story, Jennifer. I, too, feel that connection with so many others whose lives are touched by an extra chromosome.

sheree said...

how cool is that?! Where's the pictures?

Cheri said...

Don't you just love those moments! :)

Chrystal said...

Same for us at DL in November.

And also in Mexico in December! We met the most amazing Canadian family. I look forward to writing about that experience sometime soon.