The “Why” of Down Syndrome Adoption

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

So this month especially, we’re thankful to be partners with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (NDSAN). Its mission is simple: to ensure every child born with Down syndrome has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family. NDSAN’s director, Stephanie Thompson, had a few words to share with us.

She writes—

When a family decides they would like to grow through adoption, there are many considerations.

Will they adopt through the child welfare system or chose a private adoption?
Will they desire an open or closed adoption?
Should they consider or even specifically seek a child with a disability?

At the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, we work with families that answer that last question with a resounding yes!

The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network is a national adoption program that was founded in 1982 under the umbrella of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati. We provide information and support to anyone who contacts us, from someone who sees a post about us on social media, to an adoptive family who would like to join our registry, to our most important contact: the expectant or new family whose child receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

We walk with these families, lending an understanding and supportive ear, and we provide education and counseling about raising a child with Down syndrome. Out of love for their child, over half of the families we speak with feel certain there is another family who is ready to care for their child with Down syndrome. With love in their heart, they make an adoption plan for their child.

The NDSAN has a registry of 40 families who are approved to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Most of these families have a connection to Down syndrome—either through a relative or neighbor. They may have babysat a child with Down syndrome or cared for them in their church nursery. They may have a job where they have consistent contact with children, such as an intervention specialist or a speech therapist. Some families say they feel strongly called to adopt a child with Down syndrome.

We asked two NDSAN families to share why they chose to adopt a child with Down syndrome. While their stories are different, the love these families have for their children is clear…

The K. Family

“When we started our adoption journey, we had plenty of reasons why we felt we could not adopt a child with Down syndrome. We already had three kids and didn’t know if we could handle a child with special needs. We were scared of the unknowns in the future. Would that child be dependent on us for the rest of his or her life? Could we really meet all of their needs? We let fear dictate our decision.

However, after over a year of waiting for a child and going through a heartbreaking adoption scam, we felt God stirring in our hearts. When we heard about the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, we knew that was the direction we needed to go. Shortly after that, our sweet Beckett entered our lives, and we can’t imagine our family without him.

So why did we decide to adopt a child with Down syndrome? Because we believe he is fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.

Because he brings more joy to our lives than we could ever imagine. And because he is teaching us to be more patient, selfless, and to not take life so seriously. Most of all, we chose this because, by God’s grace, we chose to move forward in faith instead of fear.”

The H. Family

“After four years of infertility, my husband and I decided to look into adoption, specifically the adoption of a child with special needs.

You see, my first brother was stillborn when I was 4 years old. Doctors think he had Down syndrome, so a special needs adoption was always in the back of my mind. Then, about a year before we started the adoption process, a good friend of ours had a baby with Down syndrome. He was very sick and only lived for 67 days. We prayed and cried with them the whole time.

One of my best friends referred me to Reece’s Rainbow. From there, we registered with NDSAN and found so much help along the way.

It was a bit of a bumpy ride but the journey ultimately ended with us with our son!

We were first matched with a baby girl who had a physical disability, not Down syndrome. We said yes and were on our way to get her when she took a turn for the worse and passed away. She was only three weeks old.

We still feel like she’s ours even though we never met her. But we think God used that experience to test us, as well. My husband was a little leery about a mental disability versus a physical disability and this experience helped him understand that there’s more to physical disabilities too. But also, we leaped in faith following God’s plan.

About a month later, we were matched with our son’s birth mom. She was 7 months pregnant and the baby had a hole in his heart but was otherwise healthy. After we agreed to adopt him, the next ultrasound showed a healed heart. We met our son two months later when he was only 15 hours old and took him home from the hospital at two days old. He is almost 8 years old now and is the light of our lives!

We are now in the beginning stages of adoption again. We want to adopt another baby with Down syndrome.

These special kids are a true gift, and our son has taught us so much.

I’ve learned patience, empathy, perseverance, how to help others and fight for their equality, true joy, and deep love above all else! We can’t wait to see who else God will add to our family!”

If you’re considering adoption, get in touch with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network to learn how you can help give a child with Down syndrome a loving home.

Take the next step.