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 Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story

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Number of posts : 3585
Age : 41
Registration date : 2009-01-26

PostSubject: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:23 pm

Before my husband and I were married, we discussed adoption. My husband was adopted, so it was something that was dear to his heart (you can read his adoption story at: ). After we were married, our “plan” was to have a child together (we already had 2 from my previous marriage) and then *if* that child was a girl, we would look into adoption. If that child was a boy, then we’d wait and see what happened (meaning we’d be open to just trying to have another child). So, of course, when I got pregnant, we ended up having a girl. That was a pretty good sign that God agreed with our plan to adopt! We had always discussed international adoption. For many reasons, a domestic adoption just didn’t fit with our life or what we wanted for our family. We NEVER discussed adopting a child with special needs.
In December of 2006, I began researching international adoption. Looking through all the agency sites, I began to notice a trend. There was always a link on every agency site to view “children with special needs”. Honestly, that was the first time I even thought about adopting a child with a disability. So there I was, sitting at the computer late at night on December 23, 2006. I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t know why. I was once again browsing adoption websites, trying to figure out exactly what it was I was looking for. On a whim, I went to google and typed in “Down syndrome international adoption” and with a click of the mouse, my life changed forever.
The website that I found on my screen was In December of 2006, this organization was small, it had only been around for 6 months. I sat at my computer that night and looked through profile after profile of children with Down syndrome all over the world. I had tears running down my face and suddenly I knew that I had found what I’d been looking for. I want to say again that my husband and I had NEVER discussed adopting a child with special needs. I’m pretty certain that the words “Down syndrome” had never even been said in our marriage. I did have some experience with children with Down syndrome from my days as a special education teacher. I also had a family connection that you can read about here:
That night, I emailed the director of Reece’s Rainbow and asked her to send me information on any little boys that she had information on. I thought for sure that since it was Christmas, I wouldn’t hear back from her until after the New Year. She emailed me back on Christmas Eve. That was the first time I saw the face of my son.
I did ask Robert that night what he thought about adopting a child with Down syndrome. He, of course, said, “What???!!” and then told me he needed time to think about it. He asked me several questions about Down syndrome and asked me to give him time to think about it. Over the course of the next week, I showed him the information from Reece’s Rainbow and I shared my heart with him. I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this is what we were supposed to do.
In the middle of January 2007, we committed to adopt a 3.5 year old little boy from Ukraine. In addition to having Down syndrome, this little boy also had bilateral clubbed feet. We didn’t know how severe his foot deformity was or if they could ever be fixed. All we knew was that come August, when he turned 4 years old, if he didn’t have a mom and a dad, he would be sent to a mental institute to die. I can’t tell you how we “chose” a child, because we didn’t. God chose him for us. As I looked at the children available for adoption, I just knew. I knew with not one single doubt in my mind that the child I was looking at was my son.
In July of 2007, we traveled to Ukraine and met the little boy that is now our son, Xander. In August, we took him out of the orphanage. On his 4th birthday, he weighed 16 pounds and wore 6-9 month clothes. He could not eat solid foods and he was developmentally at the level of a 3-6 month old. Our journey with Down syndrome had begun.
Xander went through intensive feeding therapy and countless doctors’ visits. In October of 2007, he had a 5 hour surgery to straighten his feet. He was in casts until January of 2008. We watched Xander literally come alive before our eyes. His life…this journey…has been the greatest blessing.

In January of 2008, we decided to adopt another little boy with Down syndrome. This time, God led us to Serbia and a 4 year old little boy with big brown eyes and the cutest smile! Our son, Grifyn, came home from Serbia in April of 2008. He was the first child with Down syndrome to ever be adopted from the country of Serbia. He has added so much laughter and so much joy to our family and we are so blessed to have him!

In January of 2009, we once again started the process to adopt a child with Down syndrome. That journey took over a year and led us to a mental institution in a tiny little village located on the Black Sea in Bulgaria. In April of 2010, our son, Kullen, walked out of that mental institution for the last time at the age of 7. His journey was very different from our other 2 boys and he's come into our family with some unique challenges as an older child who lived in an institution. Yet, in the year that he's been with our family, we've watched him grow and learn and progress in ways that never would have been possible in Bulgaria. His story has been different, but the blessing remains the same. We are so blessed to now have THREE boys with Down syndrome.

While visiting Kullen at the institution, I met a little girl, quite by accident. Now, in 2011, we're on a different journey. This journey will take us to a DAUGHTER with Down syndrome, who's currently living in the same institution where Kullen spent 4+ years of his life. We hope to have her home in late 2011 or early 2012.

We did not add a child with Down syndrome to our family the way that most people do, but I know in my heart that God chose us to walk this path just like he does with parents who give birth to their children with Down syndrome. We continue to support the ministry of Reece’s Rainbow and we are so very thankful that God chose us to parent these amazing children!

You can read about how Down syndrome first impacted my life at:

To read about each of our adoptions, go to our adoption blog:


mom to Jakob-12, Olivia-9, Emmett-9/Ds, Kullen-9/Ds,
Grifyn-8/Ds, Xander-8/Ds and ASD, Zoie-6 and Annikah-6/Ds

Last edited by shele337 on Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:58 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Number of posts : 95
Age : 46
Registration date : 2009-01-27

PostSubject: Re: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:37 pm

I have followed your story right after you brought home Xander and it still amazes me to read your story again. God has truly blessed you and you continue to bless others with your story. Thank YOU Smile
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Age : 37
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:13 am

I love your story! I will have to read the post about your husbands adoption.
Thank you for sharing Smile
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David's Mom

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:42 pm

I had never read your entire story. I think it is truly amazing how God spoke so clearly to your heart about adopting both Xander and Grifyn. Thanks for sharing!
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Age : 53
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:14 pm

Shelley, I have never read your story before, and I am amazed at how keenly aware you are of God's voice in your life.
My heart is filled with peace and renewed Hope, because this is exactly what I want to do and yet I cannot convince my husband. Perhaps I haven't been praying correctly, and now I see maybe I haven't.
Thank you so much Shelley...I have such a profound respect for you.
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Humor : lowbrow, juvenile, scattalogical, slapstick ;)
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:00 pm

Your story is beautiful and very touching! Thanks for sharing it. I've read most, if not all, of your story before. But it still touches me deeply.

Mom to Oliver, 7 (DS, ADHD)
and Sebastian, 6
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing Down syndrome: Our adoption story   Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:52 pm

Shelley, I loved reading your story! I now know which boy is which; I was never sure who was who.
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