Mom Pamela De Almeida is used to people staring at her child. Her and her husband have two daughters but people stare and have side conversations about one of them. Their youngest daughter Sophia has Down syndrome.
Despite more awareness and acceptance of people with Down syndrome Pamela says her daughter is treated differently. It’s something she has had to deal with and accept but some days she gets angry by the treatment her beautiful daughter gets.
Then one day she was sitting in a coffee shop with her daughter and encountered stares and whispers when a couple approached her and recounted a story that left Pamela in tears.
Pamela writes a blog which she describes as: “Dedicated to capturing my perfectly imperfect life of raising two daughters; one who was born with Down syndrome. This is my journey unscripted and unfiltered through journalistic photography and written thoughts.”
Pamela recalls the moment she is out with Sophia when two ladies started staring: “I sat in Tim Horton’s with my daughter’s as I do often. Two ladies sitting near us started to stare and whisper. This is a pretty frequent occurrence for us you see; because my daughter Sophia was born with Down syndrome. I sat there and watched these two women crane their necks to get a better look at her; completely oblivious to the fact that I was staring right back.
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“Today it bothered me. It really bothered me.
“Just then, a couple approached me, and I thought, “Oh great! More people who want to take a closer look!,” she writes.
“The man greeted Sophia with a high five and a handshake, and Sophia smiled and waved back. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘I have a story I would really like to share with you. But I am afraid I won’t get through it without choking up.’ I gently encouraged him to share, because now I was curious. This interaction was not what I was expecting.
“He told me that he had watched the news last night. There was an interview with a mother who had recently given birth to a child with a major disability. She was on the news defending her decision to keep her baby. She was defending her choice NOT to terminate despite her doctors encouraging her to do so.
“He said, ‘The point is, you never know a person’s impact on the world. You can never know what a person is able to do unless you give them a chance.”
“He looked at me just before he turned to walk away and said, ‘You are a beautiful person. Your daughter is beautiful. Congratulations!’
“I immediately started to cry. There I sat in the middle of a coffee shop crying into a paper napkin. That man was the first complete stranger to ever congratulate me on the birth of my daughter Sophia. He was the first complete stranger to recognize her WORTH. Her VALUE. Her BEAUTY.
“In a world where my daughter’s life is whispered about, where she is stared at, this man saw her IMPORTANCE.
“What a wonderful reminder that every human being, no matter how small, has true worth and value. Let’s encourage ourselves and those around us to recognize everyone’s unique beauty every day.”
It’s so important that we recognize the beauty and value in everybody. Every child is a gift that we must cherish. Nobody deserves to be stared at and made to feel uncomfortable.
"Let your smile change the world, but don't let the world change your smile." – Connor Franta
Please share to raise awareness of the struggles parents of children with disabilities have to endure. The world needs to be kinder and more accepting. We can all learn from this stranger’s kind words.