Saturday, October 31, 2009

Impact


As the Third Annual 31 for 21 blog challenge draws to a close tonight, I wanted to share some final thoughts.

When I first started this blog not quite 16 months ago, its only intended function was to create a central place to update friends and loved ones on how Finn was doing after he was born. Over time, through this blog, I became a part of a large, loving community of other families touched by Down syndrome. The support has been invaluable to me. And from there, it has evolved into a means of raising awareness about Down syndrome, by sharing with the world (or at least whomever stumbles across my humble blog) a window into a pretty regular family's life with a child who has Down syndrome.

In real life, I still often find myself doing the whole song and dance to strangers and casual acquaintances who only just realize or discover that Finn has Down syndrome. What song and dance? Where I try to sell them on Finn and how great he is. I'll hear myself saying things like, "Oh, it's okay! He's great! We adore him! He's the light of our lives!" And while that is all absolutely true, it always feels icky that I find myself doing that, and inside I'm saying "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" and yet I can't seem to stop myself from blathering on. I think what it comes down to is that I so very much don't want anyone to pity Finn or our family. I worry that people might see Finn as a tragedy, or at least a burden, and our life with him as very difficult. It makes me sad to know that a lot of people we meet - without really knowing anything about Finn or us as a family, but only being in possession of a small collection of misconceptions about Down syndrome - would not want our life with a child who has Down syndrome. And so I do the selling routine, hoping to convince people that Finn really is wonderful, and we really do adore him.

A couple weeks ago, this email landed in my inbox:

Hey, Lisa.... Im sure you get this all the time, but Im a blog reader - I started from the start and read all the way through...
Truth is, my husband and I are adopting (we already have 2 small bio kids). We have known that we wanted to adopt a special needs child, but what that need was we werent sure. Lately, I have been looking into Down Syndrome. I have been looking around the internet to see what all it involved and was it really something our family could handle. I really wanted an insider's view on it and have been mostly looking for blogs of parents with a child with Down Syndrome.
And I stumbled upon yours. I just wanted to say thanks.... it has been such a blessing and encouragement to read your blog - to read someone who was willing to be real and lay it all out there on the line. It makes it much easier to see what real life is like. And through you, it actually looks pretty good.
Finnian is adorable.... and I say that not just b/c he has DS - ha ha, I know you worry over that, but really, he is a pretty baby.... and I love the dark, curly hair of your others too... starting to ramble... :)
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for being real....
-addie

It made me cry happy tears, and it's stayed with me. To know that seeing our little slice of life has influenced someone in such a positive way . . . wow. I am truly grateful to have an opportunity to make such an impact.

Check out her blog and follow her family's journey to adoption: Blessed Impatience

8 comments:

heather said...

Wow! That is amazing! You have no idea how many people's lives you have affected. Way to go Finn!

Esther and Brian said...

I would like to add one more quick thought to that: your blog has not only affected our families that have a child with DS, but also people, like me. I don't have children with DS but I love to learn and open my eyes to the world. I don't read the blog to compare things to my kids or anything of that nature. It's just simply very interesting and educational. People should be more aware of the reality of things and you know, you were right about a post a while ago: there should be children with DS, Cerebral Palsy or whatever else in commercials and ad campaigns. Because those children are also part of our world, society and that's how it should be...Peace out!

Leigh Anne said...

i agree with esther and brian above...i learn a lot from you lisa, and though we are not impacted by DS directly, you are still an inspiring person and someone i look up to as a mother! you've done it 6 times and always have great advice!

and i agree w/ addie too...finn is freakin' cute! everytime you post a picture, i wanna smooch his cheeks and eat his toes! he's THAT cute! and of course, the other kids are amazingly beautiful as well. (i'm hoping sydney's curls compare to your girls' someday!)...

Carla said...

That is so cool!!!

Lisa said...

I'm glad Addie's email affected you so strongly. If one person wrote you with such thoughts, you know there are many more out there who did not write, but are thinking the exact same thing. Your blog has touched many, many people, and I am happy to be one of them :). Good stuff...

Lisa said...

p.s. the whole selling thing...that's why I created the photo montages of our life with Bridget. I think they speak for themselves. Who, after watching, could believe that Bridget is a burden, or that she has a "low quality of life"? She's thriving, and our life, with her, is in HD, all the time...

Talley Images said...

Thanks Lisa... Im so thankful for your blog and all that you do...

Just a note to anyone who visits my site... we have not told my family yet that we are thinking of adopting a baby with DS, so please dont mention it in the comments... thank you!

ds.mama said...

Lisa... your blog is awesome because your honesty and Finn's beauty shine through it all the time. I know just what you mean about the sales pitch. I often joke that I need to get a shirt that says something like, "Its ok, we love her and she rocks!"