Around the world, each day, a number of babies will be born with Down’s Syndrome. If one of them is born to a friend or family member of yours, what should you say to them?
Congratulations. That’s what I’d recommend you say in the first instance. That’s what I wanted to hear. Just that. ‘Congratulations’ – ‘on the safe delivery of your baby’, ‘on the birth of your son/daughter’, ‘on your new family member’. in time it will become apparent what other support they need from you, for now one of the things they most need to know is that their child is accepted as a child. One of my relatives simply said my baby was beautiful (another relative piped up: ‘Of course he is, he’s one of us’. My friend’s husband, on first meeting Freddie, held out his arms saying: ‘I haven’t had a hold of him yet. Will he come to me?’ These were the interactions that were the most helpful to us at that time.
So, congratulate the new parents. If you take a gift, take exactly the same gift you would give any new baby — chances are it will be fine for them, too. And if you spot a family resemblance (and you probably will) say so.
But if you spot a resemblance to the milkman, or daddy’s best friend, maybe keep schtum about that!
With thanks to the Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group for the photo at the beginning of this post.