Raising a son with Down syndrome
Angelus News Jan 14, 2015
Rick and Abbie Smith were going to have a son. By the end of nine months, they had dreamt up vivid forecasts of the child’s future and their life with him.
After delivery, the Smiths received the diagnosis.
Their newborn son, Noah, had Down syndrome.
His world upended, Rick struggled but found a positive outlook.
“We hope to show the world that raising a child with Down syndrome isn’t a sad story. It’s just a different story,” Rick later wrote. “Different stories aren’t sad, they’re just, well, different!”
Smith, a Dallas pastor, created the blog “Noah’s Dad” to narrate the joys of life with his special-needs son shortly after Noah’s birth in 2010.
His motivation to launch the website partly stemmed from his frustration at a dearth of online videos that could offer a glimpse into life with a Down syndrome child.
He began posting one-minute videos of his son daily.
“One of the reasons I started this site was to give the world an opportunity to see first hand what it’s like raising a child born with Down syndrome. I had this crazy idea that if I could give the world a window into the life of a family raising a child with special needs, it would help them see that people like my son are much more typical than they may think.”
The National Down Syndrome Society reports that one in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome, making it the most common genetic condition.
A mistake in cell division produces an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, which causes developmental delays and cognitive disabilities, along with recognizable physical traits.
“Noah’s Dad” has garnered a substantial readership and gained a noteworthy presence in social media. While the site enjoys popularity among Down syndrome advocates and pro-life groups, it has also earned the attention of local and national news outlets.
The spotlight was cast on “Noah’s Dad” when Smith commended Target for including a boy with Down syndrome among the models advertising the store’s clothing. Smith’s post, which lauded Target for running the picture without seeking publicity, was cited heavily in news coverage of this story.
Los Angeles will have an opportunity to meet the Smith family when they speak at the upcoming OneLife LA event this month.
Scheduled for Jan. 17, OneLife LA is a family-oriented celebration of human dignity from conception to natural death.
The event will feature a number of speakers, all of whom have worked in some way to promote human dignity. Smith’s contribution in this area is significant.
For beyond the heartwarming and informative aspects, “Noah’s Dad” serves a more profound purpose: Smith transmits a hopeful message to couples whose unborn children have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, encouraging them to welcome special-needs children into the world.
Smith uncovered a disturbing statistic that strengthened his resolve to emphasize the preciousness of prenatal life, even in spite of unfavorable diagnoses.
“Ninety-two percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome through prenatal testing were aborted. This means that for every one Noah you see, there’s nine more you don’t see,” he said.
“Our culture reminds me almost every day that it’s on a mission to exterminate everyone who they deem a burden, or less than worthy of life.”
Smith maintains that the website is not religious or political. He encourages the promotion of human dignity through prayer, kindness, and sharing stories.