Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

When I think of what I am thankful for today, I cannot help but reflect on my life with Playette.

Someone recently told me, after learning of her diagnosis, that they were "sorry." I know that person meant well, but it's still difficult to hear. Because, really, we are so far from sorry. We are grateful. This little girl has done so much to teach us what's really important in life. She makes us smile and then double over in laughter. She has introduced us to so many other amazing families, bonded by what we all share in common.

I am so thankful that Playette was born exactly when she was, in 2007. I am grateful for people that paved the way so that parents like me would have fewer battles to fight. My heart is warmed by the friends and family that surround us, minds open and love abounding.

Things weren't always the way they are now for people born with Ds in the United States. The days when people were so overcome with fear or shame and placed loved ones in institutions, thinking that was the best place for them, are not that far behind us. The world we live in now, where so many more people (though far from all) are accepting of people with differing abilities, must have seemed like a world that would never exist back then.

So when I look at other countries that are not quite as progressive, seeing that people continue to abandon their children to institutions, I can't help but think, "That could have been us."

In a another time, in another place, that could have been us.

While I'm giving thanks, I include the Zoromski family on my list. I am grateful for their new daughter, Lily, and the fact that she'll be home with them soon.

Lily is 5 years old and she has Ds. Where she lives, in Eastern Europe, children who are abandoned like she was are placed into baby homes, better known to us as oprhanages. Typically, when the children reach the age of four, they are deemed not only unwanted but also unadoptable and are moved into mental institutions. From what I've learned, this is where anything more than the most basic of care stops. There is no love, no play. No hugs, no kisses, and little, if any, laughter. No one is reading to these children or attempting to teach them anything. As you can imagine, no child can thrive in this kind of environment. In fact, many die.

The fact that Lily is still in her baby home is amazing. Grateful for that fact, the Zoromskis have committed to adopting her.

You want to know the most amazing part of this story? The part that fills my eyes with tears every time?

When Brian and Michelle's daughter Ruby was born in May of 2007, so was her sister Lydia. The girls were identical twins, both very wanted, both diagnosed with Ds at birth. Unfortunately, and for reasons no one can be sure, Lydia was stillborn. Her family misses her very much and she is always in their thoughts.

Lily is also a twin, though fraternal. Her sibling that shared the womb with her did not have Ds as was taken home. Lily was left behind.

As my amazing friend Michelle has stated, "We are a family without a twin and Lily is a twin without a family."

If you are able to support this loving tribute to Lydia, I know that the Zoromski family would appreciate any amount you can spare to donate. The total cost will be approximately $22,000. The family is raising money and with their own sacrifices, combined with the support of friends, family, and perhaps even people they have never met, I am positive that they can reach their goal and Lily will be sitting at the table with Brian, Michelle, Karly, Braden, and Ruby next year, enjoying her first ever Thanksgiving meal.

If you are so inclined, donations can be made in several different ways. And, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask.

To learn more about Reece's Rainbow, the organization that helps adoptions like this one take place, please take a look at the video below.


sheree said...

great post!!

I am thankful to call you, Malea, and Dwight my friends. :)

Michelle said...

Awww, Chrystal. Way to make me cry! I'm so glad you're my friend - this was so touching. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Chrystal, I truly understand the sorry statement. But my rebuttal has become, don't be. I then further explain that if they must have something to feel sorry for me about, feel sorry that this little girl is a handful and keeps her parents so busy that they don't get any rest. I realize that folks don't know what to say and since they don't have any concept of what having a child with Ds is like they feel compelled to show some type of sympathy.