Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reece's Rainbow Reunion

Today Andrea and I made our way to Washington D.C. for the National Down Syndrome Conference.  Upon checking in at the hotel we both looked at each other and said, "we should have brought the kids."  There were lots of families in the lobby with lot's of kids and lot's a special little children with Down syndrome.  There are also many teens and adults attending the conference who have Down syndrome.  We felt right at home and enjoyed that special feeling that always comes when in the presence of those who have Down syndrome.

After dropping our bags off at our room we hurried out the  door to what I considered "The Main Event".  We were on our way to the Reece's Rainbow Family Reunion.  Upon arriving at the restaurant I began to meet many people I had become friends with on Facebook, but had never had the privilege of meeting.  It was there where I was privileged to finally meet Andrea Roberts.  It was great to get to visit with her.  She has a light in her eyes and a determination in her character that you immediately pick up on when talking with her.  It's hard to grasp just how much of an impact she has had on hundreds of children and families. 

After sitting down, we started to visit with many of the other family's in attendance.  Each of them had all of their children there, many of which had Down syndrome.  It was fun to visit and see that similar sparkle in each of their eyes that I saw in Andrea's.  After visiting for  a few minutes the conversations would turn to their children.  It was then that it really hit me.  Most of these children were adopted and essentially rescued from a life of much difficulty and trial.  They now have a Mom and Dad that love them dearly.  It's one thing to imagine these children with their loving parents, but it's very real when you see it first hand with your own eyes.  They are part of a family now with big brothers and sisters and someone who will tuck them in at night and read them bedtime stories.  Someone they can depend on. 

One story stood out the most to me.  An awesome family with 2 little girls with Down syndrome shared about their "gotcha" day for one of their girls.  They woke up that morning full of anticipation and excitement.  They decided that such a day should be celebrated so they planned to bring chocolate and other goodies to the orphanage to share with everyone.  The previous days when they would visit their little girl they felt that those at the orphanage were very cold and it was possible that they didn't necessarily have the children's best interest at heart.  Upon arriving at the orphanage, one of the workers brought their little girl into the waiting room dressed in only a diaper.  The worker handed them their girl and turned around and walked out.  That was it.  No good-byes, no hugs or tears.  They left the gifts on the table and left the orphanage, never looking back.  I can't help but think of the other children that are there right now enduring the circumstances.

Not everyones story was this way.  In fact, many parents spoke of the genuine care and love that many of the workers at the orphanage have for the children.   Nevertheless, nothing will take the place of a mom's touch in comforting her child.

After dinner I left feeling a strong feeling of gratitude.  Gratitude that I get to be a part of this.  Gratitude that I am Nash's father and that he is my son.  Gratitude for the progress that has been made and the many plans for the upcoming months and years of service on behalf of the children. 

It's going to be a great weekend!

Here's a picture I got to take with the one and only Reece!

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