Being a gay parent in the Down syndrome community is a little bit like being a unicorn at the family farm. We look just like one of the horses, but that darn horn! At the time we decided to save Delaney and join this unique club we had no idea that we had just embarked on yet another unexpected journey via Little Miss Delaney.
Why did we stick out like a sore thumb? You see, most people in the special needs community are conservative Christian's who typically do not support abortion and thus they do not typically opt for routine testing for fetal abnormalities. I can put my two cents in on not getting tested, because there are other reasons for these tests like starting early intervention while pregnant! And what about the sad cases where parents prayed for a "healthy" baby and then were devastated and mad at God when their baby was born with special needs. Andrea and I have even seen some parents completely lose their faith. But I will save those speeches for other blogs.
It was one of our very first "meet-up's" with a large group of DS moms at a local café where we got our first glimpse of what we had gotten ourselves into.
Andrea and I came in, saw the group of women sitting at a bunch of tables pushed together, with strollers lined up and coffee's in their hands. We approached them and introduced ourselves to a mixture of pleasant smiles and wide-eyed stares as they realized we were gay parents. As we sat down with our latte's one of the moms stood up to start the meeting with prayer.
"Dear Lord," she bowed her head as did the rest of the table, including Andrea and me. "I just want to thank you for gathering this group of women together for us today. For our families health and Lord..." she paused, "I want to thank you for giving me a husband who knows you and walks in your path and for teaching me to obey him."
That was a show stopper and shocked the heck out of us! Andrea squeezed my hand as our heads were bowed. We glanced over at each other and I whispered, "We're not in Kansas," cough-cough "I mean California anymore!"
But we smiled and of course showed them respect. We went on with that meeting asking many questions about their experiences on our new journey of raising a child with Down syndrome. They were all very friendly and had great answers, however, we couldn't help but notice the frequent stares. We were humored by it.
This was an eye-opening beginning to our journey. And I was right, we were definitely not in Kansas anymore, although we would adapt.
Funny thing though, flash forward to a year later. The same woman who led the meeting with prayer, the one who usually sits as far away from us as she could, came into one particular meeting clearly flustered.
She sat right next to Andrea and asked her, "What's it like to be married to a woman?" without giving Andrea time to answer she started a rant of questions. "Does your wife help around the house? Help you take care of the kids?" She would have kept going, but Andrea stopped her with a determined blunt answer. "Yes, she helps me with everything. We are co-parents."
The woman smiled and nodded. And with that, continued her rant on how "lazy" her husband was. Needless to say, she did not include her husband in the prayer that day.
Today, we no longer scare or intimidate the women, at least they do not outwardly show it. I wouldn't say we are close friends ,as we are often not included or invited to many of their more private meetings, but when we are, what started out as initial disgust or apprehension with us has become more of an intrigue and we will take that!
This is Marti, Delaney's physical therapist and advocate for Down syndrome
She is part of the village that raises Delaney. Marti works with children with disabilities and plays an integral role making Delaney able to accomplish developmental milestones on target with typical babies.
A big thank you to Marti for making Delaney work hard even though she might not want to, plowing through the tears and yes, tantrums and helping Delaney crawl and now walk!
Remember to thank your therapists, because they are part of the big picture!