The Story Behind The Picture


In am reposting this in honor of World Down Syndrome Day. I am honored to know these two amazing families and share their incredible story of faith and love. 

This picture has been circulating around the Internet for quite awhile.

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.

It is through this long and loving friendship of these two women and their families, an unborn baby would find her forever home.



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.

A family of four became a family of five.









And Avery continues to make them smile.








Seemingly unaware of how different her life might have been.











But fully aware of the love that she shares with her brother and sister.









In this new Internet era of viral pictures, videos, tweets, pins and clicks;

it is still important to stop and take the time to read the entire story.






Gabriel and Avery




A story of friendship.

A story of love.

A story of acceptance.


Every picture tells a story and this one is indeed worth sharing.





Photos by Maria Hey



Stay Sassy Y’all. 

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  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. You are right, it is so important to stop and read the stories!

  2. Your story just made a great picture even more amazing.

  3. Jane Ott Lane says:

    Just loved reading about these wonderfully giving families.

  4. you just made me tear me up with all the love that I saw that i saw in those photos. Thankyou for telling me the story behind the picture and shirt. Her smile, she is too cute!

  5. What a beautiful story. I am one who also posted that awesome picture of Avery on my Facebook page. My heart is happy.

  6. What an amazing story! I saw the photo pop up in my news feed and fell in love. Such beautiful girl. And that shirt is perfect! Thank You so much for sharing this with us all!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story behind the picture. I too was one of the many to jump on sharing the picture. Not just because this child is beautiful, but she radiates the love she is and the love that is being given to her through her family. The other reason was because she really does ROCK that extra chromosome! It really hit home for me, for I do believe my son also rocks his extra chromosome. I love to hear about the extra special people that have so much love to give to these precious angels. If I were able to adopt a special needs child I would. However, my son is now 23, still needs my care with his medical needs, and I am a 60 year old single Mom. None the less, I am so blessed that God graced me with raising this extra special child, so full of God’s love. So connected to God in a mysterious way. Thank you all so much for all you do to help make people aware that EVERY life has a purpose and is worthy of love and life. How precious is the young lady that gave her child to this lovely family. My prayers and love to and for all of you. :)

  8. i to have a daugher that rocks and the love of our life and wouldnt trade her for anything in the world thank you

  9. If anyone is interested in the idea of adopting of a child with Down syndrome, I high recommend checking with your local foster-adopt program and/or We know 3 local families who have adopted young children both with and without Down syndrome through Reece’s Rainbow. Avery was lucky to have a birth family that cares very much about her, but there are countries around the world where children with DS are considered sub-human and die of neglect in orphanages and mental institutions. Reece’s Rainbow brings together those who have the physical resources to adopt with those who have the financial resources to help – if you have either, you should check them out! :)

  10. JIM BOB ANDERSON says:

    what a wonderful story i wish i had the words to tell you laura what a wonderful woman , person , mother that you are you inspire me

    • Thank you so much Jim Bob. It means so much to me. I love telling other people’s stories of inspiration and these two women’s stories are extra special to me.

  11. Don Holley says:

    To Sassy,
    My name is Don Holley and I ran across this website because I was looking at pictures of Kilgore College Rangerettes and saw one of a girl I believed to be Martha Hale. I was about 3 or 4 years behind Martha as a Rangerette Manager from 1975-1977.

    When I came across the picture of the little girl with the ‘rockin’ the 21st some’ T-shirt, I had to read the story. It was great. It really bothers me that people in the USA feel the need to adopt overseas when there are little kids here in Texas who need a ‘forever home’.

    Our family has 3 extra chromosomes.
    When my wife and I married she had a son, Andy, who is DS. Afterward, I adopted Andy.
    Together we have adopted Jonathan and Gabi. Both have DS.

    These three children are the most wonderful people whom I have ever known.
    LOVING doesn’t come close to describing them.


    • Hi Don,
      What a wonderful family! I would love to see a picture! Yes, that is Martha and my big sister Jane in that Rangerette picture. My sister Kathryn was a ‘Rette too! What a small world!

  12. I used to visit the scrapshare message boards and remembered this photo of Avery and the updates her mom would give – how fun to see the photo end up in A Mighty Girl’s Facebook feed :)

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