Yeah, me neither.
But, now that we both know, there's something I want to share with you.
All over the world, where tests are available to identify in advance if a child has been blessed with an extra chromosome, parents frequently make the choice to terminate their pregnancies.
As if that weren't bad enough, in many parts of the world children that aren't born 'perfect' are often abandoned by their parents - hidden away in mental institutions. Many of these institutions fulfill their duties and care for the children. Sadly, many do not.
Tommy is one of the children that wasn't lucky.
The picture above was taken shortly before he turned 12. Nope, that's not a typo. TWELVE.
He is 12 years old, weighs 26 pounds and fits in a baby walker. The saddest part is that at 26 pounds, he's one of the 'healthier' children in this particular institution. There are a couple of girls (9 and 10 years old) who are 10 lbs.
The children here are given barely enough food to survive and that's it. They are not fed enough for their bodies to grow and they certainly aren't given much stimulation. It's very likely that the time Tommy spent in the baby walker for his photo was the first time he'd been out of his crib in days (if not longer).
The bad news is that the families that commit to these children often face seemingly insurmountable odds. You see, although these children are not deemed to have enough worth to be fed or held or read to or let outside, the price that must be paid to adopt them is very high. Many of the places with the worst-off children have the highest ransoms for rescue.
The cost of adopting Tommy could be $30,000 (or more).
Rumor has it that a family is currently working to commit to Tommy's adoption. I don't know this family (or their financial situation), but, it would be great if we could make sure that money does not become an obstacle for them.
For anyone interested in helping out, Tommy has a grant you can donate to at Reece's Rainbow (a great non-profit that helps fund the adoption of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs). The money donated will be kept in a fund to be used by the family that commits to adopting Tommy (for adoption related expenses only).
Let's celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month by helping Tommy come home!