Couple Whose Daughter Was Born With Down's Syndrome Adopt Another Child With The Condition
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A big-hearted couple whose daughter was born with Down's Syndrome selflessly adopted another toddler with the condition.
Allison and Andrew Sweatman, whose first child Rosie was born with Down's, adopted Beau to give the youngster a big brother.
Allison, from Cabot, Arkansas, said: "It was so hard with Rosie at first because we were not able to focus on really any of the things a typical parent gets to focus on.
"We weren't really able to relish the first year of life because we were completely focused on very very serious health issues.
"Since then there has been an improvement all around and for the first time we felt like we were really able to just enjoy her and celebrate her."
Rosie suffered from seizures and craniosynostosis, which occurs when the skull fuses together prematurely, causing her to spend the majority of her first year in the hospital.
"The biggest thing was that we had seen our daughter overcome so many obstacles and so many great perils that we knew that something like Down Syndrome - this extra chromosome - was no longer scary to us," said Allison.
"There was a time that the diagnosis was scary and hard for us to hear but after seeing everything Rosie had gone through in the first two years of her life, we opened ourselves up to it.
"Then we heard about Beau."
Beau was the son of a couple who loved him, but had decided that he would be better off with a family who had experience of raising children with Down's.
"When I first held Beau there were so many emotions and I knew him becoming my son meant his birth mom sacrificing greatly for us to have him in our family," remembered Allison.
"We definitely had an instant connection with him, especially my husband."
Within two months, they had adopted Beau and made him a big brother to Rosie.
"We are just like a lot of other families but I absolutely recognise that we are also incredibly different from the outside looking in.
"We do get people staring at us or asking questions, but it is just a part of our life.
"Being a mom of two children with Down Syndrome is incredibly rewarding. It's most rewarding when I see our kids working so incredibly hard for milestones and to see them surpass our expectations of them.
"It makes all the really hard days worth it. It's not an easy journey, but it's certainly a privilege to be part of."
Andrew, who now works as a web developer, added: "When I first learned of Rosie's complications, I felt intense anxiety and fear.
"If I could send my former self a message in that moment, it would say: 'Take a deep breath. Your daughter is so much more than her diagnoses'.
"After we learned so much about Rosie and her medical complexities, we realised that heart and brain problems were scary to us, but Down Syndrome wasn't.
"We always knew we wanted to adopt, so when it came time to think seriously about it, it didn't make sense for us to rule out any potential matches based on their chromosomes, especially since there is such a need for special needs adoption.
"When we really thought about that, we realized we could and should actually seek out a child with Down Syndrome. I'm so glad we did."