Years ago, we chaired the committee for Parent Visitation through our local support group. I gave lectures to adults about raising a child with different abilities. I went into the schools and led workshops for children about how we are all similar and all different. I let them “experience” the difficulties some people have by doing exercises for vision impairment, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Delays, etc.
After our dream of aliya came true and we moved to Israel, I went back to school to fulfill another of my longtime dreams-to become a midwife.
Now I work in one of the busiest delivery rooms in all of Israel and I try to help out with the new parents of children born with Down Syndrome. I have given lectures to the staff and to the nursing students, both in my hospital and in other nursing programs, and I try to visit as many of the new parents as possible.
My message is simple.
I not only survived, but I grew. I feel that my children all benefited from being Joshua’s sibling and so do they. We are all better people because of him. Our lives are enriched. We all put in a lot of effort with Joshua, a lot of time, a lot of emotion, a lot of frustration too. But we came out stronger. Our lives were not destroyed; our yichus (“blue blood pedigree”) was not ruined as we were told it would be. Just the opposite!!
Our children are all contributing members of society; teachers, social workers, scholars; they help others with their finances, volunteer to tutor and pattern and the list goes on and on.
And Joshua, he is a happy and warm human being. He presently lives in an apartment with five other young men with Down Syndrome and they have very busy schedules. He continues to touch the hearts of those that take the time to know him. He makes friends with men in shul and he is considerate and well mannered. He is happy for the successes and accomplishments of others and loves to dance at friends’ weddings.
What does the future hold for him? Who knows! Maybe he will get married -- that is one of his dreams. Whatever he does, we will continue to encourage him and give him opportunities and of course to love him with all our hearts!!
Susie Feder is a nurse midwife at Sha'arei Zedek Hospital, Jerusalem.