Monday, April 19, 2010

Andrew's Story

* This following post was written by my dear friend Julie, whose son Andrew "started it all" for us. I had asked her to write Andrew's story for us so we can share his beautiful story with you all. Enjoy!*

I remember as though it were yesterday the phone call from my doctor letting me know that our third child, Andrew, would be born with an extra chromosome. I remember feeling paralyzed with fear. I remember being filled with grief. But I also remember the words that our doctor, our first guide through these seemingly murky waters, gently reminded me of from the Bible- that through prayer and supplication, to make our requests known to God and that He would answer our prayers. Most importantly, he told me that everything would be all right because God was in control and that we would eventually come to understand what a true blessing this little boy would be to us and to the world. Andrew has been all that and more.

Andrew was born on January 22, 2007, three weeks early but healthy at 7 lbs. We had months to learn more about this little boy God was entrusting to us and were so excited to meet him. I remember the neonatologist handing him to me and telling me that he was “just perfect”. Right there in that operating room, my husband and I began to understand the depth of human compassion and care and that a whole new world was opening up to us because of this little cherub with round cheeks and happy eyes. We had visits in the hospital from moms of children with Down syndrome who encouraged us with their stories, visits from nurses who would stop by just to cuddle with our little guy, and lots of love from our community of friends. Of course, our two older children, Emma and Ethan couldn’t get enough of him and as children often do, they paved the road for everyone else to be as delighted with this little one as we all were. I remember holding him after he was born and looking at his sweet face and thinking “Why all the fuss over his Down syndrome…he’s just a regular baby…ten fingers, ten toes, and a cute button nose just like Emma’s”.

We have traveled a thousand miles since his birth (and we have added another soul to our family too, sweet baby James). We have come from a place where we just didn’t understand what it would mean to raise a child with special needs, a place where stereotypes and preconceived notions took precedence, a place where voices from ill-informed family members said our lives (and especially our children’s lives) would be ruined by Andrew’s presence. We knew then, and we certainly know now, that God would provide all things for us and that no matter what Andrew would be a blessing to our family. And he is. He has opened up a whole new community of people we would have never had the pleasure of knowing. From his amazing early education teacher Rosemary, to his loving preschool teacher Yi-Cheng, to his fabulous occupational therapist Stephanie, to his ever-creative speech therapist Marilee, they have all enhanced our lives and brought a whole new education our way. These women are extraordinary and are the real movers and shakers in the world. We are encouraged that the world has indeed changed for the better regarding individuals with disabilities and that all these teachers have had a hand in making this change. Andrew also has a team of doctors who are competent and so compassionate toward him. A lot of times we are stopped as people share their own stories with us or just want to say hello to Andrew. We often laugh that the rest of us are pretty forgettable but no one forgets Andrew. Although he has no words yet, his eyes have a twinkle that says it all, his crooked smile can bring you out of the worst mood and his hugs are simply the best. He has won over skeptics, he has helped people think differently about disabilities, he has enhanced our family life a million fold.

What we didn’t know at the time of Andrew’s diagnosis that we now know is this: While his disability may bring many challenges, his ability to connect with and love others will overcome many of his hurdles. He doesn’t live in a world of constant suffering as some naysayers would lead you to believe, but in a world of giggles and snuggles and unconditional love. Yes, there are medical challenges and extra doctor’s appointments, but there are also some added bonuses in addition to the challenges that come along with that spare chromosome - special little secret things that we get to experience that lots of families don’t. Some people refer to this as chromosomal enhancement. Things like his knowing smile, his bear hugs, and especially getting to see our typical children have a deep compassion for those who may be on the fringe in society. I wish you could hear the pride in which our children announce, “Our family is special because we have a brother with Down syndrome”! Ethan can spot someone with a disability a mile away and loves to offer them his shy little grin of support. Pretty amazing. Most of all, we have a profound gratitude to God for choosing us to care for this little soul and how, in His providence, he has completely provided for us along the way. We look forward to growing old with Andrew at our side. You couldn’t ask for better company. It is so nice to be with someone who looks at the world unfettered by the daily concerns that our typical minds mull over. Someone who can see things for what they are and who is joyful about the simple things in life…holding a balloon, looking at sunset, or reading a book on your lap.

We cannot express how excited we are for the Ficks to join us on this journey, especially as they are truly saving Darya’s life by pulling her out of sure misery and institutional living. When Marianne asked me to write about Andrew I had the chance to revisit my memories, stroll through the last few years and rejoice in all the things that Andrew has added to our lives. The word that comes to mind when I think about raising our son is privilege - it has been such a privilege to be Andrew’s mom, a privilege to care for him in sickness and in health, a privilege to raise him knowing what a perfect gift, in an imperfect body, God has given us. I told Marianne today that I am so excited for them to experience raising Darya. It’s like being inside a rainbow. The colors are simply amazing.

~Julie Francisco
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD” Psalm 127:3
My little gifts...Andrew (3), Ethan (6), Emma (8), James (1)


  1. Thanks for sharing Julie, and for your part in our journey. Love those four little munchkins.


  2. Thank you for sharing Andrew's story, Julie! We just love you and your family so much and are so thankful for Andrew paving the way to lead us to Darya. God used your family as the first of many steps to lead us to her!

  3. it took me a while to figure out that Julie is a friend of your family. At first, I was thinking that you were writing about your own son....but now it all makes sense and I realize that this was your inspiration to adopt a child with Ds. It is just all so beautiful!!! I am going to hop on over to Julie's blog now as I think we may actually live fairly close to each other.

  4. Hi Julie,
    Thank you for sharing your story. What a testimony your story is to God's goodness, mercy, and love. It is clear that through Andrew's sweet, gentle, and loving spirit, a seed was planted in the hearts of the Ficks; one that would grow, and has grown, into a full grown desire to adopt a baby with Down syndrome. Thank you Julie for being brave and strong, and for trusting in God's provisions. Hopefully, your story will touch other parents' hearts and help them to see what an incredible blessing special needs children are. We can't wait to experience Darya's rainbow!

  5. Julie and Marianne.. How precious this is, sniff, sniff. I will have to share with some of my friends. Your words Julie were perfect. It was such a pleasure to talk with you both yesterday, here a little of your story and even sweeter, having the Lord in common. Your kiddos are just precious. Love, Erin