Coincidentally, my son and daughter-in-law left for Hong Kong to pick up their new son on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21. Joining them on the trip was their other adopted child, now age 7, from Kyrgyzstan, whom they adopted with a severe medical problem that has since been corrected.
March 21 was the 9th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day, a commemoration created, according to Down Syndrome International, “to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.”
My son Nathan, his wife Amanda and daughter Anara returned from their journey with their 18-month-old son a week ago, and the rest of us have been celebrating his arrival after the expensive and tedious year-and-a-half process of making this international adoption.
Ezekiel Nathan Hubartt, born on Sept. 28, 2012, has been in the care of foster parents in Hong Kong throughout the process. He is a bright-eyed, loving little boy who still has to learn to talk and walk, as is often the case with Down syndrome children of his age. He's a delight and a joy to his family as he becomes their fifth child.
So is his 6-year-old cousin, aptly named Joy, adopted from South Korea by my oldest daughter Rachel and her husband Guy. She was the second adopted child of their five.
Some people struggle to understand why anyone would want to adopt a child with Down syndrome, considering, I suppose, the difficulties and expenses inherent not only in adoption but in treatment, teaching and permanent commitment.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition, not an illness. Having Down syndrome, according to DSI, does not make a person unhealthy, although some people with Down syndrome may have health issues throughout their lives.
My daughter-in-law Amanda expresses her heart in explaining why she and Nathan decided to choose Zeke for their next child: “We focused much on the 'why not' because we really wanted people to grasp that Ezekiel is a person and worthy of life and love,” Amanda wrote on her family blog. “It was not about the sacrifices to be made and it still isn't. This life is still temporary,” she wrote, “all life is still valuable, children with Down syndrome are still discarded and marginalized. We still have enough resources, faith and love to make this child our own.”
And they, like Grandma and Grandpa, love him just as much as all the rest.