A Progress Report

In the short time since we launched Down Syndrome Nation, we have been overwhelmed with love and support.

Over 31,000 people have seen Juliette’s cover girl photo on Facebook, next to April Vernon’s wonderful poem about inclusiveness. We have been blessed to have several of you join us as guest bloggers, sharing your stories and the wisdom you have learned along the way. And with the help of our social media expert friends, DSN now has outposts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

There is still so much to do to get our resource library populated and organized so it’s easy for you to find what you need. The more we engage with the Down syndrome community, the more content, wisdom and personal stories we discover that we can’t wait to share.

That includes powerful personal blogs from parents of children with Down Syndrome.

Amber Dent writes the “Baby Lemonade Blog“, where we get to meet and fall in love with her daughter Kara. Her most recent post: “I Was Not Given A Special Child Because I Am Any Stronger Than You“, was selected for inclusion in the March issue of Blue Umbrella Collective, a digital magazine for families of kids with special needs.

She writes:

I look over at my beautiful girl and I silently thank her for the strength she has given me. I realize that this strength has slowly built up since the moment we got our prenatal diagnosis. Built up like an athlete with a barbell.

I became stronger with each piece of unexpected information, each surprise a weight all its own. I grew because I was able to lift the bar higher every time. Nowadays, I am strengthened with each shift in focus, different need that surfaces, or necessary medication. Each is a tiny weight added onto my barbell.

We’re big fans of The Mighty at DSN and it warmed my heart to read Paul Daugherty‘s exquisite letter to his daughter... on her wedding day. I imagine my own father thinking many of the same things on the day I married Brandon. In the end, we all have differences, but we share many, many other things in common.

We all wish the same things for our children. Health, happiness and a keen ability to engage and enjoy the world are not only the province of typical kids. Their pursuit is every child’s birthright. I worried about your pursuit, Jillian.

I shouldn’t have. You’re a natural when it comes to socializing. They called you The Mayor in elementary school, for your ability to engage everyone. You danced on the junior varsity dance team in high school. You spent four years attending college classes and made lifelong impressions on everyone you met….

A decade ago, when a young man walked to our door wearing a suit and bearing a corsage made of cymbidium orchids said, “I’m here to take your daughter to the Homecoming, sir,’’ every fear I ever had about your life being incomplete vanished.

Now, you and Ryan are taking a different walk together. It’s a new challenge, but it’s no more daunting for you than anyone else. Given who you are, it might be less so. Happiness comes easily to you. As does your ability to make happiness for others.

If you are new to the community, you may still be navigating a lot of fear and uncertainty. That’s normal. Parenting at it’s core is often a roll of the dice. We do the best we can and keep our fingers crossed that things work out.

What we hope the DSN Community will give you is the sense that you’re not in this alone. Our extended family has surprised and delighted us again and again, touching our hearts and expanding our minds. Our goal is to pay it forward in the same way for you.

Thank you for being part of that family. If you are a first time visitor, welcome! If you are returning for sustenance, dive in. And let me know how we can make our outreach more effective.

We’re all in this together!

Stephanie Westerman

Stephanie Westerman

Stephanie Westerman is the founder of DownSyndromeNation.com. She is an executive at Florida Blue, Wife to Brandon and Mom to Hudson and Juliette. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
Stephanie Westerman