It was an emotional, yet joyful month of July as Anna celebrated her golden birthday in quarantine turning five on July 5th. Around her birthday, I always flashback to the early part of my pregnancy when I found out about her diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Since, typically, it is unacceptable in my culture to knowingly have a child with a disability; alarmed, my mother’s initial reaction was to recommend abortion. Over the days to weeks, it turned out that she was not the only one that had this suggestion. Because of my faith, it was one of the few times that I defied my mother. I hope I have been able to show you through my posts, that as a result, our lives have been filled with such joy and blessings. Anna has made all of our lives so much richer. She and my mother are now inseparable, “two peas in a pod”; she feels she’s living with an angel and she cannot imagine life without our precious Anna.
Her birthday being the day after Independence Day, is also a special treat. July 4th was another day of contemplation for me. It was a day in which I reflected back on the history of our nation in relation to children and adults with disabilities. I feel it is important to be taught and to learn accurate history, no matter how ugly that history may be, in hopes that we learn from and will never repeat it. There were times when individuals with disabilities were dehumanized. There were times when they were put in orphanages, asylums, or were “hidden” away in their homes, “not allowed” out in public. They were institutionalized, segregated, abused, victimized, discriminated against, and marginalized.
Then, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the civil rights movement began here in America. It was at this point that the inhumane treatment of individuals with disabilities was exposed. As a result, several civil rights and educational laws were put in place. Of course, it still took decades and decades for the social climate to change. Is there more work to be done? Yes, there is. Will there be people who discriminate against my daughter? A mother’s worst fear, but the answer is yes. This is because, as long as people live on this earth, no matter how hard we try, we will never reach a perfect state in which this type of behavior can be eradicated-to assume so, would be futile. Therefore, I will need to do only what a parent can do. I will help her grow in her faith, help her to love and value herself, and to be as strong and as independent as possible to the best of her ability. I will do my best to teach her values and reinforce kindness teaching her to love and serve others. I will attempt to teach her to be persistent, responsible, disciplined, and hard-working. This is in part, why I do Talk Tools with her, so she will be able to communicate as clearly as possible to advocate for herself. I will try to guide her to form a strong, solid foundation of moral principles and good character. This, in turn, will be used to help her navigate through struggles she may face in her future.
So, although I do believe there are some bad, mean people in the world that might intend harm for my daughter; that in America, I truly believe, there will be that many more that will defend my daughter, advocate for my daughter, and come to her aid. Thankfully, the fact of the matter is, our nation’s system is no longer set up against her and she can be successful. She will have challenges to overcome; yet, in our great nation, the land of opportunity, the reason that so many immigrants come flocking in order to find that hope; she will have plenty of opportunities to succeed and live out her God given potential. Being of a multicultural background, my parents as well as my in-laws are immigrants, we understand this. Being multicultural, the only appropriate category for me and my children is being an American. As a stranger approached me, yelling, “remember Pearl Harbor” and popped a firecracker in front of my face; that only served to fuel my fire to study harder. It was that determination, persistence, and financial aid through scholarships, that I fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a physician here in America. Although, we can all share our stories of trying times; we all have the potential to truly rise above. I am hoping to grow that potential in my daughter and am looking forward to see what a beautiful future lies for her. This is the positive, yet true message that I would like to get across to Americans. Having lived and traveled all over the world from a very young age, there is not a country in the world that I would rather be raising my precious child with Down Syndrome than right here in the United States, and for this, I am thankful.