This week I've found myself often brushing back tears and offering my thoughts and prayers. It seems to be a time of worry, heartache and concern all around me. Reading through the blogs of the incredible parents and their beautiful children with Ds there are babies sick here and abroad, children lost, and many children struggling for their lives in a race to find adoptive families.
I've known about the charity Reece's Rainbow since shortly after Cora's birth. They help to educate, connect and raise money toward international adoptions of children with Ds in Eastern Europe. Children who will very likely not live very much longer without getting out of their countries and into families that can offer the love and attention they desperately need.
For months I read blog posts advocating or raising money to save these children and my heart would ache. But still I wasn't ready to click on the links and see these faces. I didn't have the courage to even look at the websites. Such cowardice. I guess the best explanation I can give for my fears is that it was still way too close to home. Too hard for me to envision my own sweet Cora in the same crib, suffering the same fate, simply for being born with an extra chromosome in a different part of the world. Too close to the worries I had for the life of my own baby.
Knowing that even here in the U.S. there is still such a long way to go for people like Cora to experience true acceptance. Knowing that a great percentage of our communities still think of Down syndrome as a "disease" to eradicate, as something to be "taken care of" if diagnosed early enough in pregnancy. We know that we will likely have to fight for inclusion in school and in our community, even though we've come so far. Knowing that the world still sees her as a second class person breaks my heart to think about. But to picture her being chained to a crib without contact, love, medical attention or even real food is devastating. And that is the situation that so many children are facing.
Now I am ready to click the links, ready to see, ready to read the stories of the brave, compassionate and wonderful souls that are doing their part to save the lives of some of these children. But it still bruises my heart. I am so thankful that there are people who are standing up to rescue these children who are worthy, who are valuable, who deserve a chance.
Next month our family is taking our first real step to advocate for Cora and for those with Down syndrome. Perhaps it's a small thing, but we are participating in the Northwest Down Syndrome Association's 2011 Buddy Walk to raise awareness, educate and promote acceptance of those with Ds. Even though it may be a small step, it has to begin somewhere. Just by showing a small population of people how valuable a person like Cora can be, we can start to raise awareness. Start to demonstrate to the world what we already know: that she is worth it. That people with Ds are a valuable part of our community and our world and that trying to get rid of these people is wrong. And that much more needs to be done to help save the lives of children like Cora across the world, children that currently don't have Cora's opportunities.
I hope that more people can get the courage to visit Reece's Rainbow and learn about the children who need a chance to live. Please visit Reece's Rainbow. Even if you're not in a position to adopt a child, you can contribute toward the adoption of these children. Or you can help to spread the word. Follow The Blessing of Verity, the blog of a mama on her trek to adopt a little girl in an orphanage in Bulgaria. Be brave enough to look at the faces.
And as a more local gesture, you can sign up to walk with us in this year's Buddy Walk. Or you can make a donation to Team Cora Bean to support the NWDSA and raise awareness with us.
One step at a time.