Today is Christopher’s birthday.
He is my miracle boy and if all the medical professionals at the time of his birth had their say, this Down syndrome son would not grace this earth.
To say that Christopher’s unexpected birth changed my life would be an understatement of epic proportion. At the time of his birth, I was a model, actress, and dancer, selfish and proud, an advocate to my own aspirations until my beautiful son came along and gave my life new purpose and meaning.
Beautiful people do not just happen and he was born for a reason.
Christopher saved my life and taught me to be a warrior mom, to never give in, to welcome adversity and not accept no as an answer. On the occasion of his birth, the rules were laid down. “Give him up,” they said “he will soon die” “should he live, to keep him will mean a lifetime of heartache.”
I quickly learned rules are made to be broken.
Statistics cite ninety percent of Down syndrome children are killed before birth, the other ten percent are handed a bleak future. What is it that causes us, fellow humans, to pass judgment on each other? on people who are perceived to have less value? What is it about us that we focus on the imperfections of others? In my opinion, the world is much better with people like Christopher in it.
Together, my unwanted boy and I swam against the tide, refusing to conform while living life on our own terms.
Christopher was almost born in the air, on a flight from the US to Canada. His sudden birth in Canada to naturalized Americans meant the start of an eighteen-year immigration fight to legalize him in the US. At the border, my baby was labeled an undesirable alien, not by virtue of his unanticipated birth in Canada, but instead because of his disability label.
For eighteen-years we fought the system, perceived respectable community leaders, harboring an illegal alien, smuggling him across borders. Along the way and attributable to his birth, I raised millions of dollars to build an American model of disability services and self-sufficiency, a place Christopher could not attend due to his immigration status.
Today is the day Las Vegas was born, it’s the day a special Village was founded and the day my son came into the world. The stars aligned at his precipitous arrival and his journey brought humanity to Las Vegas and inspired a struggling charity.
Lest it be forgotten, my son’s disability does not define him, this is his legacy, he fought the system and won the day, he is a change maker, a teacher of men, a champion for our times.
My boy forges on, defying the doctor’s orders, asking for nothing other than to be accepted for his special and unique capacity to love without judgment. He is a much-loved son, brother, cousin, grandson, stepson, nephew, and friend and I am grateful for every day that at first, I would have done anything to avoid.
There stands no plaque to commemorate his achievements, just a hoped-for book in the making penned by an imperfect mom bearing witness to triumph and tragedy.
In honor of Christopher’s birthday please consider our common humanity and reach out to those who society perceives as different. And if adversity comes your way, and it surely will….be courageous, grab hold and wrestle your problems to the ground and march stubbornly and uncompromisingly forward while never… never…ever, letting detractors win the day. Pass it on….
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