When Dave and Jane Daulton first learned that their son Tommy had Down syndrome, they prayed that God would “fix” and “cure” him of the disorder, Baby Center blog reported.
But when they almost lost him six weeks after birth, the Pennsylvania family began to realize just how valuable their son’s life was, just as he was.
“[Tommy] went into full cardiac arrest at around 6 weeks old, and we had to resuscitate him several times on the way to the hospital,” Dave Daulton said. “When you’re fighting for your child’s life…it bonds you…it’s like ‘this life is so precious’… we’re happy with who he is.”
However, the story doesn’t end there. Five years later, inspired by their son’s life as well as a dream in the middle of the night about having a baby with Down Syndrome, the couple agreed to adopt ten children over the next two decades who all had Down Syndrome. One child unfortunately died within nine months of coming home with the family, but the remaining children have overjoyed the Daulton family. The family now has five biological children and nine adopted children.
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“It’s such a privilege. I think everyone should have a child with Down syndrome. We have had nothing but love from these children…we would be so much poorer without them,” Jane Daulton told Christian Broadcast Network.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality that occurs when a child inherits an extra 21st chromosome, according to the NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine. The condition manifests in varying degrees of severity, but may affect intellectual abilities, facial expressions, cognitive functioning and weakened muscle tone. Childhood speech and language development may be delayed. Other symptoms may include hearing loss, sleep apnea, ear and eye conditions and congenital heart problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The condition occurs in one of every 800 newborns, the NIH continues, resulting in the birth of 5,300 babies annually diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Nationally, about 200,000 people in the United States are living with the condition.
Per the CDC, there are diagnostic tests that can be used to screen for the condition prenatally, leading many doctors to advocate abortion, but many parents elect to grant their child life despite the diagnosis. Many children with Down syndrome grow up to have a reasonable quality of life, and resources are available for parents who initially may feel they cannot cope with the additional challenges of the condition.
“There are 200 million orphans in the world, there are 4 billion Christians. There should not be a single orphan’s bed filled,” Daulton said.