Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 for 21 -- Siblings (Day #4)

I know you can't see her shirt... but it says I {heart} DS, just like the famous I {heart} NY shirts. She got it at the NDSC Brother/Sister Conference in San Antonio this summer. Anna is one of John Michael's older sisters and has come such a long way since she first learned of his diagnosis.

I'm focusing on her, cuz she just sent me this awesome photo for my birthday today. She and Doug are in San Francisco getting ready to board the tall ship, Balclutha for the next 20 hours or so. It's going to be a long, cold night in the galley!

When John Michael was born, Anna was in shock. She told me she didn't love him and hated the fact that he had Down syndrome. Dealing with my own feelings of grief, it killed me inside and I didn't know how to fix her. As I quickly grew to love him unconditionally, I realized that only patience, love, and prayer would get her to see past his diagnosis. It was a journey for her, a painful one, but she got through it beautifully. She recently wrote an article for the Down Syndrome Information Alliance (DSIA) New Parent Guide about her experience and how she came to love John Michael over the course of about 9 months or so. Today, she is head over heels in love with him and wants the world to know how amazing kids with Ds are. She can't wait to go back to the NDSC Brother/Sister Conference every year possible.

John Michael is very lucky to have 4 fantastic siblings. Nic, the eldest, is really JM's best buddy ever, they share a room, and a special brotherly bond. Nic was at the Convention, too, (it was his 2nd time) and would love to go back again. Watching him dance with a girl with Ds just made my heart soar!

Greta is only 6, but she has a very large personality ;-) She is John Michael's biggest teacher and "coach" and dance instructor and cart wheel teacher and all-around role model. I expect great things from her. She, too, loves all the little kids in our Sisterhood group.

Luke is only 16 months old, but already a wonderful addition to the family. He and JM are very sweet with each other and enjoy rolling around, chasing each other and making music throughout the house. They also get into lots of trouble together. Oh... to be younger and more energetic! These boys won't let me grow old... that's for sure!

I know some kids with Ds will be only children. That's OK. But, I hope they have close friends that they can play with, learn from, and teach things to as well. John Michael's siblings are definitely more compassionate and open-minded toward those with differences than ever before and I'm thrilled to watch their futures unfold.
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  1. Happy Birthday! Oh this N. CA fall day will make for a cold day on the overnight ship trip for sure...but lots of fun memories too!

    I love the bond that my boys have now and I'm excited for the bond to continue to grow and change. Landon has no idea that Sutter is any different than any other little boy, but I know as he gets older that will change. The one thing I'm most grateful for is how it will mold him into an even more compassionate, caring boy (man) than he already is!

    Your kids are so lucky to have one another!

  2. I never knew about Anna's reaction to JM having Down syndrome. You would never know that from seeing her at the convention.....you could see she was just happy to be there, taking it all in and basking in the joy of being part of the Down syndrome community :)