Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Accomplishments of People with Down Syndrome (Part 6)

Until recently, maybe in the past decade or so, marriage between people with Down syndrome seemed... unlikely, at best. Recently though, it has come to the limelight, and more and more couples with Down syndrome are successfully getting married (and sadly, as goes with today's society, sometimes getting divorced) all the time. Here are just a few couples with Down syndrome who have tied the knot.

If you have HBO on your TV, you've undoubtedly heard of Monica and David. Their reality show highlighting their lives, and their wedding, has taken the country by storm. I'm not sure if their series is still on because we don't have HBO, but definitely check it out if you have time!

Paul and Andrea were the first couple with Down syndrome to marry in Britain in 2006, and it didn't come without a fight. They had to prove to many nay-sayers that they understood what love and marriage meant. But they did it and now live in a beautiful one bedroom flat (that's an apartment for us Westerners) ;) Be sure to take the time to read their incredible love story. It will warm your heart.

So for this next story, I have a little more of a personal involvement... though the couple in question has no idea. Meet Austin and Christi. They met at the National Down Syndrome conference in 2004. Christi, who was from California and Austin who was from Texas, instantly bonded. The next year I attended the same annual conference, this time in Anaheim, California. Kennedy was just over a year old and my mind was blown by all of these people with Down syndrome, doing completely normal things... hanging out with friends and driving cars, and... you know... walking! ;) So I was in this hotel, in line for coffee, and behind me was Christi. I talked to her while we waited. She indulged my silly questions while she played with Kennedy. My last question to her was, "Do you have a boyfriend?" I was grasping onto every sense of normalcy and a future for my daughter that I could. She smiled at me and said, "I do! He's going to be here later!" Just then someone tapped her on the shoulder... she turned around and exclaimed, "Austin!" and threw her arms around him. And I stood there and bawled like a baby, watching these two young people, so obviously in love, embracing one another. I totally intruded on a private moment, I'm positive, but Austin and Christi will never know what they did for me that day. They helped me realize one more dream for my sweet baby girl was absolutely possible. And so, to run across this article, to catch up on their lives, even though they don't know me from anyone else, makes me feel like I'm catching up with an old friend... and I'm so thankful they are happy, doing well, and living their dream.

Alex and Alexis met in elementary school where they were classmates. They had an instant connection, but when Alex's family moved away the two lost touch. Then in high school, Alex was featured in a newspaper article. Alexis' mother saw it and encouraged her to call Alex and invite him to prom. And the rest, as they say, is history. On April 26, 2008 the couple was married. You can read more about Alex and Alexis' love story here.

Heather and Tyler are another beautiful couple with Down syndrome who know the meaning of love and of the phrase "in sickness and in health". Tyler and Heather met at a Special Olympics event and hit it off right away. When Tyler fell ill in 2010 with pneumonia, Heather never left his side. Their parents realized then how committed they were to each other and promised them a wedding once he recovered. And that's exactly what they did. We wish them a lifetime of happiness!

I've mentioned Bernadette Resha in a previous post about her many accomplishments, but she's also known for her marriage to Josh. The couple first met when Josh was 2 and Bernadette was 5, and they were the first couple with Down syndrome to marry in Tennessee. I had a chance to attend their wedding but was out of town and couldn't make it. I heard it was beautiful though. You can see some images here. Sadly, due to circumstances beyond their control, Josh and Bernadette are no longer married, though I have heard they remain friends.

Another high profile wedding was that of Carrie Bergeron and Sujeet Desai. They were engaged shortly before the NDSC conference in 2006 in Atlanta. I happened to be there when Carrie arrived. She came down the escalator where 5 or 6 of her friends were standing there talking, and when they saw Carrie they all shrieked in excitement. "Let us SEE!" They all said. Of course they wanted to see Carrie's engagement ring, and like any newly engaged young woman, she showed it off with all the excitement in the world. She was glowing! Later, before one of the conferences where she and Sujeet would both be speaking, I heard her tell him that she had laid his clothes out for him on the bed and he better go get ready. He smirked at her and said, "Yes, Dear." :) Time Magazine covered their wedding (they had 2... a traditional one and a Hindu ceremony) and wrote a fabulous article about the accomplished couple. Be sure to check it out!

These are only a few stories out of many, many couples with Down syndrome all over the world who are forming relationships, falling in love, and getting married every year. As the years go on, that number will increase, and hopefully my girls will be included in that statistic if they so choose... I may or may not already have great husbands picked out for both of them! ;o)


Anonymous said...

I can so see Kennedy,(and hopefully Kellsey, too)right in that same spot in her life,some day, Renee. I think she will end up doing anything, and everything, that she desires to do in her life!!!
I'm waiting patiently to hear more news on Kennedy's tests. Fingers crossed!!!!!!!!


Momtoseven said...

Thank you so much for sharing these stories! I LOVE them!! Questions - What happens at these National DS conferences? Are they weeklong, weekends? Do you need to be a member to go? I hear of them often on other blogs, and on forums, but can you shed some light on what they are all about and are they worth going to? How much do they cost? Are the national ds congress and the national ds society the same?

Marsha :) said...

Has there ever been a marriage between a person with DS and a person without DS?.

Ariel said...

I love this!!! Are there any stories that you know of of people with Ds parenting?

Hannah said...

Very touching stories! I am curious though, do you know of any people with DS that have married people without DS?
Also, if 2 DS people have a child together, will it definitely have DS?
I am curious too if these adults with DS actually have the cognitive awareness of marriage and responsibilities of adulthood or is it just like two children marrying (mentally)?
Sorry for all the questions! I hope you can answer them.

Bugtheteacher said...

Hi thanks for sharing these they are great to read. I miscarried a daughter who had down syndrome. Since then I have felt drawn to people who have it. If this question is rude please ignore or delete it. I was just wondering if couples like these are able to have children? One thing they tested us for was if we were carring a down syndrome gene but they said that is rare than it just happening. So I did not know if that would affect couples like these or not. Also have there been couples able to care for children full time? Again if this question is out of line please let me know. I do not want to offend anyone.

Michelle said...

Did you know Carrie and Sujeet are divorced now? I found that out last year, or maybe it was earlier this year...made me sad. But I guess its just like the 'typical' marriages; divorces can happen amongst people w/Ds too.