Mom Was Going To Give Up Her Down Syndrome Twins, Then She Went To A Special Picnic
HeartEternal Staff 1/31/2017
Julie McConnel, 45, of Idaho, was the mother of an adult child, two teenagers and a preschooler when she discovered she was pregnant with twins. Julie and her husband, Dan, 46, knew that getting pregnant would be considered high risk because of their age, but they still wanted to try and conceive a little sister for their three-year-old son Andy.
The couple were married in 2010 and Dan, who didn't have any biological children, formed a family with Julie's children from a previous marriage--Gabrielle, 22, Carson, 17, and Hailey, 15. After they had Andy together, they felt the desire to have just one more baby. Then Julie discovered that she was pregnant with twins. But when the doctors told the couple that early tests indicated at least one, if not both, babies had Down syndrome, their reaction surprised others.
That's because the couple considered putting the babies up for adoption. They were afraid they wouldn't be able to appropriately care for twins with Down syndrome, particularly because of their ages. They even went so far as to make arrangements for the babies to be adopted after Julie delivered. They wavered at the idea, though, and kept postponing the necessary paperwork.
When Julie entered her third trimester, they attended a picnic for families with children who have Down syndrome to catch a sliver of what life might be like if they obeyed that tug in their hearts telling them to keep the boys. When they felt more sure about not adopting them out, Julie and Dan began reading books about twins, special needs babies and infants with Down syndrome.
The pregnancy lasted 37.5 weeks. When the boys arrived, doctors confirmed that Charlie and Milo did indeed have Down syndrome, according to the Daily Mail. However, at that point, it just didn't matter to them anymore. The thought of adopting them out was just a memory.
"You can have expectations of how life is going to be, but it might not pan out the way you imagined. Now that I have Charlie and Milo, I understand that and I have more compassion than I ever had before ... Everywhere we go, people love the boys because they're special, but I know this won't always be the case when they're older and it hurts to think about. I want people to see that there are people out there who are different, but it doesn't make them any less valuable. They're just the way they're supposed to be."
The couple felt secure in their decision to raise the babies, no matter their age or the boys' needs, because they were family and the twins were theirs. Julie had fallen in love with the babies that she lovingly refers to as the "goofball brothers" named after a sketch in the film The Wedding Singer. She told the Daily Mail that sometimes life doesn't always turn out the way you expected, but it's how you handle those changes that's important.
"My heart came out of my chest when I saw them. I was so smitten. They reached out and grabbed my heart and they just looked like perfect little babies. Our other kids are so protective of them and Andy, our three-year-old, loves introducing his twins to everyone ... It's hard to imagine life without them, but I think I'd miss them every day if we had decided not to keep them."
Of course, as the boys get older, Julie said she worries about how they'll be treated by others who aren't as accepting. She worries that they'll be mistreated, rejected and ridiculed.
"People can be mean out of ignorance, but if you slow down and put away the image in your mind of what normal or perfect is, you can experience so much more. I want them to grow up and have friends and I want them to be appreciated and understood. I know not everyone will feel that way towards them, but I also feel grateful that we live in a world where people with Down syndrome have more opportunities than they've ever had and as a mum I hope they'll find something to do that they love."
Some people refer to others with special needs as "God's special angels." They hold a special place in all of our hearts, spreading joy unabashedly wherever they go. What do you think about Milo and Charlie's story?
Source: Live Action News, Daily Mail, FB Image Source: Facebook/JanainaColombo