I have been meaning to make this post for a few weeks now, but for lack of time it just hasn't happened yet. Now the time is better than ever, though, as a new friend has "made known to me" something tremendous and has "filled me with joy" and hope for the future of people with Down Syndrome.
A few weeks ago, my friend Kristin (mom to little Carter, Jack's new BFF, whom you've all heard about) had a very, very special playdate at her house. Kristin, Carter, Jack and myself met in person a new friend (or a new "sister," if you will, in our exclusive little club our boys made us a part of) named Erin, mother of two precious boys Mason and Grady (who has T21). Erin lives in New York but went to college in North Carolina. She has a wonderfully beautiful blog (check it out at www.skiingthroughlife.wordpress.com) which Kristin introduced to me, and we both have been following it for months. Since we "discovered" this remarkable family, Kristin and I have both also "friended" Erin on Facebook and have communicated a little here and there with her.
Well, one day a few weeks ago, I read a post on Erin's blog that said she was coming back to NC to visit friends and family. She also mentioned a special meeting that was to take place ... she was planning to meet Kristin and Carter while staying with her cousin in Winston-Salem (only 25 minutes from Greensboro)!!! Could this be true, I thought. And, if so ... I HAVE to meet her and little Grady!!! I MUST!!! So, my very next action (and this won't surprise any of you who know me really well) was to promptly invite myself to this extraordinary playdate (thank goodness they said yes!). And so we met on a Friday afternoon at Kristin and Carter's cozy home, and it was an absolutely wonderful, wonderful day. Erin is one of those people that makes you feel like a better person by just knowing her, someone you'll never forget and who you just know has something special ... she is destined for great things. As for Grady, he is an absolute precious angel, so sweet, cuddly and cute with these big, beautiful ice blue eyes. He, Jack and Carter were instant friends ... they played so hard together that they all passed out asleep at the very end of the playdate!
So everyone, please meet Grady:
Here are some photos of our wonderful day (sorry I'm so late in posting these):
Grady and Jack holding hands
Three peas in a pod
Our new wonderful friend Erin with the boys
Beautiful Kristin with the boys (Again, thanks for hosting!)
I had just too much fun with these little angels!
Jack woke up, of course!
Can't get enough of baby feet!
Now I change the subject.
So now that you've all met our new friend Grady, now please meet Simon:
Simon has a lot in common with Grady, Carter and Jack ... they all have Down Syndrome (and they're all absurdly adorable!), but Simon's life is very different than the rest of the boys'. Simon was born in Eastern Europe on February 19th of 2010, just one day before Grady Wayne was born here in the United States. On the day that Grady was born here, Simon was transferred to an orphanage in Europe simply because his mother did not want to care for him ... because he has Down Syndrome.
In Eastern Europe, children with special needs are institutionalized and poorly cared for ... in fact, as the Today Show described it, these children are "tortured." (Videos of this grotesque inhumanity can be found on Erin's most recent blog post at www.skiingthroughlife.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/two-boys-two-days-one-year-one-voice.com.) Our dear new friend Erin, who is just as beautiful and true on the inside as she is on the outside, found Simon on the Reece's Rainbow website (http://www.reecesrainbow.org/), which is an International Down Syndrome Orphan Ministry, and she has been following his story for many months. If Simon, who turns one this February 19th, does not get adopted by his birthday, he will likely be placed in an institution where he lead live a lonely and despair-filled (non)life without the love, basic care, and attention he deserves.
For Grady's first birthday, our friend Erin asks not for toys or books or clothes for her precious little boy, for he has every thing he needs in his warm and providing home. Instead, Erin's family asks of her friends (and I am lucky to count myself among them) to help fulfil "Grady's 1st Birthday Wish" and consider donating to Reece's Rainbow towards the cost of Simon's adoption at www.reecesrainbow.org/simon2h. Today, I am fulfilling my promise to help Erin and her family with this mission by sharing this message to all Jack's supporters out there. I ask that you consider helping our new friends, helping the Down Syndrome Community, but most importantly, helping bring Simon home to a caring and loving family ... who knows, maybe with your help he could even become Grady's second "big" brother some day soon!!!