Adopting a child with Down Syndrome was the greatest thing I could have done for my family

Sam is the coolest kid you ever met. That’s not just his mom talking, that’s most people who know him.

Sam is a child we adopted who has Down Syndrome. As his mom, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the report this week from Iceland that advances in prenatal testing have led nearly 100 percent of women in that country since the early 2000s to abort babies with Down Syndrome.

Here is what I want to say about that.

We searched for years for a baby with Down Syndrome who we could adopt – including a most disturbing trip to Russian orphanages and an outright rejection from India (because we are Christians). It took 10 years for us to find Sam.

People ask why we wanted a child with special needs. We wanted to adopt a child with Down Syndrome because my husband and I both thought that people raised around siblings with special needs had a unique depth to them and we wanted to raise children of character, compassion and depth.

That certainly turned out to be true. My children are better for our adoption of Samuel. They don’t hesitate to hug a burn victim, help an old person across the street, or assist someone in a wheelchair with their challenges.

Ninety percent of children diagnosed in-utero with Down Syndrome are aborted in the U.S., so we are not as different from Iceland as we might like to think. Right now there are 300 families waiting to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. Adoption is the answer, not abortion. These babies are wanted.

Samuel is Peruvian and I am very close to his birth mom – an immigrant – who was treated reprehensibly when she gave birth to him at a large public inner city hospital. She was told she should have aborted him and was not allowed to hold him or to nurse him with her nutrient-rich first milk. He was ripped from her and stuck alone in a corner.

We were later told we were being allowed to adopt him so he would have names on his death certificate.

He did have some major health issues, including a hip disease, a heart problem, and more. But the moment we held him he started to thrive! Several of the severe medical diagnoses dissipated within days.

He is a healthy 11-year-old bundle of love today. Everyone who knows him understands why we wanted to adopt him.

And his birth mom? She gets to hold him anytime she wants.

In a day where there is so much division and vitriol, children like Samuel should be celebrated. All he’s ever wanted is to love and be loved.

America could use a million more Samuels today.