Seventeen years ago, when my son Ryan was born with Down syndrome, it came as a complete surprise. We knew we were having a boy and I had been dreaming of his future for the last 9 months. Maybe he would be a star soccer player for his high school, tall and handsome, with so many friends. So, when Ryan was born the doctor came to the head of the table after performing an emergency C-section to tell me Ryan had “markers” for Down syndrome and they would have to run some tests to be sure. At that moment I thought my dreams and life were over, and my next thought was that my husband was going to leave me.
This diagnosis allowed my greatest fear to come front and center in my life.
While still on the table, my husband asked me “Do you understand what they are telling you?” to which my instant reply was “yes, you’re leaving.” My fear, the one Satan had taunted me with for years, was happening (or so I thought). My husband looked at me with shock as (I had never shared that fear out loud) and said “No! I’m not leaving.” Right then, I heard the spirit of the Lord, not in an audible voice, but still as clear as if it had been said “That’s not my plan for you” and just like that, that door closed. The one that had been cracked open and pouring a fear into my life since my first child was born 2 years earlier.
I would love to tell you that from there we were great, but that would be a lie. We had the same feelings that everyone else experiences when they get a diagnosis for their child. We both thought it was something we had done, and that we were being punished. While we were in the hospital, we fell madly in love with this little bundle of joy that came from the Lord, who had been created in His image. Once home, we still had doubts, lots of fears and tears, but we knew God had a plan, and that Ryan was here to make a difference in the world and it would start with us.
Jeremiah 29:11 became my life verse.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, plans not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
Nowhere in that verse does it say if you have the right number of chromosomes, I will keep this promise. He meant it for everyone, no matter the diagnosis. Because of Ryan, our family has grown closer, our walk and relationship with Jesus stronger, my marriage is better and my daughter is one of the most incredible human beings I have ever known.
God has also taught me over the last 17 years that nothing I have feared or worried about has turned out the way I thought it would. My dreams of a son I thought I would have, turned out better than I could have ever dreamed. He is tall, handsome, has lots of friends and brings joy to everyone he meets. He loves his family and he loves Jesus. What more could a momma want? We have a great JOY because of a diagnosis and because of our creator!
It really is more ups than downs!
Amy is the Special Needs Ministry Director for The Chapel Green. She grew up at The Chapel and has been married to her husband Mark for more than 20 years. They have two children, Abby and Ryan. Ryan was born in 2001 with Down Syndrome. As her family began the journey with a special needs child, the Lord placed on her heart that Ryan came into the world to make a difference and that God had a plan for his life—even with an extra chromosome. (Jeremiah 29:11.) Amy was inspired to come alongside other families to support, love and share with them that their children are made perfectly in God’s image and tell them how much Jesus loves each of us. Amy is the author of It’s More Ups Than Downs and when she is not working, she enjoys being with her family, sunshine, flip flops and reading a great fictional history book.