After A Couple Learned Their Baby Had Down Syndrome, They Made A Selfless Adoption Decision

Andrew and Allison Sweatman were shocked when they were told that their baby daughter had Down syndrome. The couple weren’t sure how they would handle the genetic disorder. Then, after their daughter, Rosie, turned two years old, they made a huge decision that would change their lives forever.

The Sweatmans hail from the Arkansas town of Cabot. They both attended Ouachita Baptist University and married in 2011. Andrew owns the internet company Riveter Solutions and works as a technical specialist for Apple, while Allison is a blogger and hosts a podcast called Oh, So Extra.

When the couple learned that they were expecting their first child, they were living in China while teaching there. But at one of Allison’s pre-natal scans, they received some worrying news. The Sweatmans were told that their unborn daughter had a heart defect. But that wasn’t all. Their baby also had Down syndrome, a chromosomal disease that causes delays in development and intellectual impairment.

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The Sweatmans decided to move back to America to cope with the diagnosis, which they admitted was a lot to take in. At 37 weeks, Allison gave birth to a little girl, named Rosie, via emergency C-section. Over the course of the following year, Rosie battled many health problems and spent lots of time in hospital. Among other things, the infant went through heart and skull surgeries.

“It was so hard with Rosie at first because we were not able to focus on really any of the things a typical parent gets to focus on,” Allison said to news site SWNS. “We weren’t really able to relish the first year of life because we were completely focused on very, very serious health issues.” And one year later, the parents would make a drastic decision.

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Rosie still struggles with some medical problems, including seizures. But her mom and dad realized that Down syndrome wasn’t going to stop their daughter from living a happy life. “There has been an improvement all around, and for the first time we felt like we were really able to just enjoy her and celebrate her,” Allison said.

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Allison continued, “The biggest thing was that we had seen our daughter overcome so many obstacles and so many great perils that we knew that something like Down syndrome – this extra chromosome – was no longer scary to us. There was a time that the diagnosis was scary and hard for us to hear, but after seeing everything Rosie had gone through in the first two years of her life, we opened ourselves up to it.”

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Andrew added that their attitudes towards their daughter’s genetic disorder totally changed. “When I first learned of Rosie’s complications, I felt intense anxiety and fear,” he said. “If I could send my former self a message in that moment, it would say: ‘Take a deep breath. [She] is so much more than her diagnoses.’”

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The technical specialist explained that the couple found out everything they could about the condition. After that, it became less daunting. “After we learned so much about Rosie and her medical complexities, we realized that heart and brain problems were scary to us, but Down syndrome wasn’t,” Andrew said. And the Sweatmans resolved that they’d love to give their daughter a sibling.

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The couple then decided to do an incredibly selfless thing. Having always been interested in adoption, the Sweatmans realized that they could give a happy home to another child with Down syndrome. That’s when they met Beau.

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The little boy, who is four years old now, first met the couple through a friend. Although his parents loved him, they knew that they wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands of having a child with Down syndrome. So, they decided to find another family to adopt him.

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In November 2017, Andrew, Allison and Beau all got together at a Legoland theme park. Right away, they knew that they wanted to take him in. They adopted the little boy so that Rosie, who turned three in August 2018, could have an older brother.

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“When I first held Beau there were so many emotions. I knew him becoming my son meant his birth mom sacrificing greatly for us to have him in our family,” Allison said. “We definitely had an instant connection with him, especially my husband.” Both the couple’s children are non-verbal. They are able to communicate with each other, however, in a way that touches their parents’ hearts.

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Allison stated that being Rosie and Beau’s mother continues to be an “incredibly rewarding” experience. “It’s most rewarding when I see our kids working so incredibly hard for milestones and to see them surpass our expectations of them,” she said. “It makes all the really hard days worth it.”

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Allison now regularly shares family updates on Instagram and her blog Ali’s Whole Life. She explained that having two kids with Down syndrome can be extremely difficult but is always worth it. “It’s not an easy journey, but it’s certainly a privilege to be part of,” she said.

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And the family has grown used to the gaze of strangers when they are out together. “We are just like a lot of other families, but I absolutely recognize that we are also incredibly different from the outside looking in,” Allison revealed. “We do get people staring at us or asking questions, but it is just a part of our life.”

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When the family’s story was posted online in September 2018, it quickly went viral and was shared over 20,000 times. And commenters were quick to voice their support for the family. “What a wonderful, heart-warming story. God bless you all,” one person wrote.

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Social media user Pamela Anders added, “Very, very special children – and parents. Wishing you a lifetime of love, joy and happy times.” And Donna K. Cooper agreed, “What an awesome family! All the best for a wonderful life for your two beautiful children. They are so blessed.”

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However, it seems that not everyone was so supportive. Allison confessed that her family was the subject of some cruel online comments. She added, though, that it’s only further motivating her to be a voice for her kids and other Down syndrome sufferers. “Differently-abled individuals are worthy of life, respect, inclusion and everything good in the world,” she shared.

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Most of all, the couple are glad to be able to give back by providing a loving home to Beau. “We always knew we wanted to adopt. So, when it came time to think seriously about it, it didn’t make sense for us to rule out any potential matches based on chromosomes, especially since there is such a need for special needs adoption,” Andrew said. “When we really thought about that, we realized we could and should actually seek out a child with Down syndrome. I’m so glad we did.”

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