Q2: Life With Charley – A Christmas Stocking for Charley

“We couldn’t wait to call our folks. We’ve all been there. You pump yourself up and blurt out the words, but the party on the other end of the phone isn’t sure they’ve heard you right.

“Mom, Dad, we’re adopting a baby. Oh, and by the way, he’s got Down syndrome.”


“Mom? You there? Say something.”

Was it my imagination, or did Mom hang up on me? Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. She did, however, hand the phone to Dad. 

Ring after ring, Mom’s friends called to deliver the bad news. “These kinds of babies require work,” they said, as though we’d bought the defective model and could still take him back to the store.

 “All babies require work,” we said.

“You sure about this?””

“Yes, we’re sure.” I couldn’t help but chuckle while adding, “Tell Mom I said ‘hi’.” Some of these do-gooders chuckled too. 

“Team Mom” continued to call. Surely we would come to our senses. Or not.


“Do you have any idea what you are getting into?” And each time we answered, “No. No, no, for the last time, no.” For that matter, does anyone ever know? Does any child come with an instruction manual? And if so, what would it say? Proceed with caution? Open at your own risk? 

What did we know of Down syndrome? Not much.  What did we get? More than we ever hoped for. Ring.

“There are institutions for children with these types of disabilities,” one caller said. Somewhere between amusement and irritation, Brad and I grinned at each other. “Thanks, but we’re keeping him.”  Pp 19-20


Choosing to adopt a baby with Down syndrome is a bit different that having a baby that happens to have an extra chromosome, but the fear of wondering how family will react is universal.

How did your family react to the news?

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One comment on “Q2: Life With Charley – A Christmas Stocking for Charley
  1. Stephanie says:

    My mom went with me to the first geneticist appointment where she told us she was 99% sure he “was Downs”. After I asked what exactly that meant, (I had no clue) we left. It was a 45 minute drive home. Mom drove and let me sit in the back with Josh and sob. Half way home she said “okay, you’ve got until we get home, then you need to pull yourself together and do what ya gotta do.” So that’s what I did.

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