WAXHAW, N.C. -- At first, it can be a difficult thing to hear, learning your baby has down syndrome.
So a local group is working to change that with a new program meant to help educate parents.
No matter how you look at it, the Maddex family of Waxhaw is special. The two middle Maddex brothers, Chase and Zeke, are 6 years old, born 5 days and a world apart -- both with Down syndrome. They adopted Zeke from the Ukraine two years ago. Gavin, at 4, is the youngest.
“I’ve got four boys who are amazing and each thrives in their own independent ways,” says Brian Maddex of his sons.
But when Chase was first born, it was hard to imagine.
Laurie Maddex recalls, “It was just crushing because it was like losing a child that I never had. You have this vision of what your child is going to be like, and then all of a sudden, all of that changes and it was really difficult.”
They didn't know much about Down syndrome or the life their son could lead.
“It was just kind of a scary place and we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t know what reality might look like. It would have been great to have someone put their arms around us and say, ‘Look what you've got,’” Bryan says.
A new program does just that.
First Call pairs trained volunteers and families with children who have Down syndrome, with families who have just received the diagnosis.
The executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte, Kathryn Lariviere, says, “Our role is to say, ‘Let us show you what Down syndrome looks like.’ Every family has to make their own individual choice.”
The Maddexes hope someday to be able to do that for another family. Because despite an uncertain beginning, they are certain now they wouldn't change a thing about their special family.
Mom Laurie says, “Not one single thing. I get teary, because it’s changed us for the better.”
For more information on the First Call program, check out The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte at: www.dsca-gc.org.