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 | Lydia Schmitt, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mercy, Aurora

A Letter from a Mom to Her Daughter in Honor of World Down Syndrome Day

To My Child with Down Syndrome,

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, a date in which we celebrate the unique being that God has created you to be. I write this letter to you, with a grateful heart to God, for the beautiful life that you are.

From the moment you were conceived, you were unique. Most people are born with 46 chromosomes, but you were born with 47. That is to say, where most people have two copies of the 21st chromosome, you have three copies. Hence, this is the reason the genetic disorder you were diagnosed with at birth is called Trisomy 21.

When I think about your genetic makeup, I am drawn to the verse from Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb." 

When I hear this verse, I imagine God in His rocking chair with 46 strings of thread on a table next to His armrest. As He carefully knits each string thread-by-thread, one-by-one creating your beautiful smile, your silly personality, your giant heart, your hearty laugh, your determined mindset, and your even temperament, He stops and thinks to Himself that something is missing. He reaches under His chair and pulls out a shiny golden box. 

He only takes this box out once every 700 beings or so. In the box He pulls out one white string to add to the 46. He carefully knits it into the brown hair of the beautiful little girl He has created, smiles, looks into your eyes and whispers, "You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4).

God has given you a gift, instead of two copies of a gene, you now have three. You might be wondering why God chose the number three. In Hebrew the number three means "completeness" or "new life," so that's exactly what God did next. He brought you, with great love, and by His very breath, into​ complete​ being and, in that moment, He created ​new life​ in you. 

Then He smiled at His good work and whispered, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). He pulled out His giant brass book with a silver clasp and opened it up to page number 9/12/2018, the date of your birthday, and began to write. All of the days of your life were written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).

God knew that upon entering into the world you would be different than some children. Chances are that you would need glasses or wear a hearing aid. You'd likely have dietary restrictions or need a feeding tube. You'd probably see a team of therapists to help you grow in each area of development and would need to visit several doctors in your lifetime – one for your heart, your thyroid, your stomach, and so forth. God knew you would face hardships. So, He sat you on His knee, and, like all good fathers do to bring comfort, He told you a story.

This is a story about a boy named Jesus. He was good and perfect. His mother and father took very good care of Him. After many years, the boy grew up and became a teacher. He loved to teach people about God. He was also a doctor. He could heal the blind and the deaf and raise the dead back to life. Many were astonished by the words He spoke, the miracles He performed, and the way in which He lived his life. He was a good man and had many friends and followers who believed in His teachings; however, there were some who did not. Over time these men became angry and jealous of all of Jesus' followers and soon Jesus was faced with many hardships. His friends betrayed Him. His neighbors accused Him, and the people of His town beat Him. One day, the people stopped believing in Jesus' teachings. They thought He was a liar and so they sentenced Him to die on a cross high on top of a hill. He was buried, but on the third day He rose from the dead.

God stopped telling His story. He looked down at you on His knee and asked, "Do you know who Jesus is?" You looked up at Him with tears in your eyes, and He answered, "Jesus is my Son." He went on to tell you that the world needed a Savior, so, God sent His only Son Jesus to save the world. He said, "You see my child, by dying on the cross, Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world and redeemed all of my people whom I have created so that they would always have a place with me, their Father, here in Heaven." God then kissed your forehead and whispered, "I love you so much, my child, that I sent my only Son in exchange for you."

God wanted you to know that, like Jesus, you are good. But there will come a time when you too will face hardships. You may be hurt by something said or picked on or left out. You might feel discouraged or lonely. And when that happens, God wants you to think of His son Jesus on the cross. Like your 21st chromosome, the cross has three parts. When you think of the number three and the cross, it is God's reminder and gift to you that, through all of life's trials, God's perfect love for you will always remain.

After hugging you gently, God held you in the palm of His hand and said to you, "It is time to enter into the world now, sweet daughter. I want you to remember something. By your differences, I have set you apart (Jeremiah 1:5). It is through your differences that I have written your mission: to teach others this Trinitarian love that I have taught you, which is to love more openly and to self-sacrifice more freely for the sake of others."

God knew that, upon entering into the world, you would bring others into a deeper communion with Him, and so at that moment, He held you in the palm of His hand and gently placed you safely in your mother's womb.

That womb was mine, and I give thanks every day that God chose me, to receive you, the most beautiful daughter, number three. 

With Love Always,