It went viral after it was posted on the International Down Syndrome Coalition’s Facebook page. It was part of a campaign to promote awareness of those with DS. It was a collaboration between the local Down Syndrome Association of San Antonio and the IDSC.
I can think of a couple of reasons why it touched so many people’s hearts. The little girl in the picture is simply adorable. And the saying on her shirt, “Am I Rockin’ This Extra Chromosome or What?!” sends a message of acceptance with the perfect amount of humor and sassiness. There have been countless friends of mine that have posted this same picture on my Facebook wall. They knew that I would enjoy the picture and most of them said something sweet about our own Catherine who they know to be about the same age of the girl in the picture. They had no idea that we actually knew Avery. This picture was taken at the local Buddy Walk back in 2008. Her mother had the shirt custom made for her specifically to wear to the fundraiser. She wanted something that would fit Avery’s personality as she led her team in the annual walk to raise funds for research and support for the local organization. And when the San Antonio office of the Down Syndrome Association provided IDSC this picture to place on their social media outlets, it took the Internet by storm. That little face stole hearts with every single click and pin.
A few weeks ago, when someone else posted this same picture on my wall with another note about how much they enjoyed the message on her shirt, I thought it was time for me to share the whole inspirational story behind that precious smile.
When Ginger Lambert first moved to San Antonio with her family sixteen years ago, she would instantly meet a fellow mom that shared her love of scrapbooking named Maria Hey. They both had one year-old babies at the time and would soon become the best of friends. Maria was also expecting her third child and she also had a 2 year old son, Gabriel.
Over the next few years, they spent countless hours together with each other’s families. They watched their children grow up together. Their daughters, Rachel and Hannah became the best of friends as well. Ginger and her husband James would later add to their family when they adopted their son John.
In 2005, the Down Syndrome of San Antonio organization was staffed completely by parent volunteers. When a phone call was received about a teenager seeking assistance in finding someone to adopt her child who had recently been diagnosed with Trisomy 21 while still in the womb; the parent on call that day knew exactly who to reach out to first.
Maria and Peter Hey’s oldest son Gabriel was born with Down Syndrome. Since the time he was 2 years old, James and Ginger Lambert had been involved in watching him grow up. Not only had they been in attendance for a lot of the social activities at the DSASA, James’ company was providing free office space to this non-profit organization.
When Ginger and James hung up the phone after getting the details from a very nervous teenage mother- to- be, they brought their family of four together to talk about whether they should adopt this baby who they knew to have Down Syndrome.
And they prayed for guidance.
After considering their own ages at the time of adoption, potential medical risks of a baby born with DS as well as the costs associated with it and the stress of starting all over again when their children were already school age; they knew this was all in God’s divine plan for them.
Through Ginger’s friendship with Maria that started out as something as simple as a hobby that they enjoyed together, one child’s fate would be changed forever.
A few months after agreeing that the Lambert’s would adopt her daughter that she knew to have special needs, this teenage mom placed her infant into the arms of her new mom and dad; her forever family.
And it was at that moment that James and Ginger knew that their family was complete.
What some people might consider to be a burden in adopting a baby with special needs, this family saw only the love they had experienced in watching Gabriel all those years.
it is still important to stop and take the time to read the entire story.
A story of friendship.
A story of love.
A story of acceptance.
Every picture tells a story and this one is indeed worth sharing.
Gabriel and Avery.