Now one of our huge prayers for people to pray for us is on going. We wanted prayers for our girls. Normally we have prayers of adjustment and feeling love from the parents as they are otherwise occupied and for the new baby that will become a part of the household. And we definitely wanted those prayers and they have been answered so far. The girls adore Johnny and I couldn't ask for two better sisters for him. Hearing MacKenzie and Keegan say Johnny makes my heart melt, they have even picked up on us calling him Baby Johnny or Johnny Boy and will use that term of endearment for him. They bring him toys and bottles, ask to say good morning to him, want to give him kisses, and sit patiently wanting to hold him in their arms. MacKenzie reaches over and strokes his face in the car seat as we are driving around and says, "Look Mommy, Johnny is holding my hand." She tells me if he is awake or sleeping and will proudly tell people who ask about her baby brother. Keegan wants to be as close to him as possible, tentatively touching his toes and his hand, cupping his wrinkly head in her chubby hand, and fawning over him with googly eyes and tender cries of "awwwwwww, baby, Dawn-ie". I could not have asked for an easier transition to three because they have come to love him and treasure him as we have. It's hard to remember time before him even though it's only been three months of him in our home.
We also prayed "for our family, friends, and friends' kids- that they will accept and include Raptor as just another one of the kids, with no disparate or preferential treatment." This is one that we will have to continue praying for all of Johnny's life. We know he will be picked on at some point, all kids are. We know he will be left out at some point, all kids are. We just pray for strength for him during those times and we pray for our kids and our friends kids to lead by example in taking care of Johnny and making him feel included and loved. This is a huge prayer we have had for MacKenzie and Keegan too. They are going to learn so much by having Johnny in their lives. We work hard to teach them all of these character traits like compassion for others, understanding diversity, standing up in defense, and they are going to exude it from their very core. We have often wondered if we have done the right thing in having our kids so close together. I knew growing up that I thought the age difference between my sister and I was not one I wanted for my kids. We love each other now, but growing up that four years felt like an eternity. I didn't know I wanted them this close however. I thought we would shoot for two to three years, but when Mac turned 6 months, Matt and I felt ready to expand our family. We thought it was crazy, but it was such a strong desire in our hearts. I never found our kids being close in age to be that difficult. We only waited a few additional months to try for Johnny because of school year timing and aren't entirely opposed to a fourth with similar spacing. I mention all of this because it seems nuts to have kids that close. It is definitely not the norm. We get looks at a lot of places for having three kids in the span of three years and one week. I know people walk away talking about us being out of our minds. But there is no doubt in my mind that it has been a blessing in this way with Johnny. My girls will grow up knowing Johnny as Johnny. They will never have an iota of a preconceived notion of what Down syndrome is. They have had no chance to be tainted by our society and it's conception of what is good and what is bad. All they know is the love they have for Johnny.
Additionally, we have a handful of friends who have already reported how God is working on their kids' hearts. One friend was praying with her boys for Johnny and his doctor appointments, her son was concerned about Johnny and asked if he was sick. She explained to him about Johnny having Down syndrome and took the opportunity for a teachable moment to tell him a bit about it. After showing him a few pictures of babies with Down syndrome on the internet, he exclaimed "Well they are just precious little babies!" How pure was his heart in not seeing anything wrong with these children. And how humbling is it that our kids can see beyond the diagnosis. Another friend has a daughter who has been incredibly indifferent to babies in the past who adores Johnny. She persists in asking to hold him and snuggle with him and has really taken to him in an unusual way. This is the impact that we want Johnny to have on people, for others to be drawn to him and to love him for who he is! I worry so much about Johnny not being asked to play or not being invited to other's parties or being left out of the group, but with kids like this in our life, I know he won't face that rejection as often.
We continue to pray for those who interact with Johnny to treat him as the boy he is. All of the therapy we seek for him is in hopes to get him and keep him on par with his little buddies so he can just be a kid, then a boy, and one day a man (that is weird to think about, my son becoming a man). We don't want anything else extra for him or anything else left out, just working towards normalcy.