Gifts : Mothers Reflect on How Children With Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives

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Having a baby with Down syndrome is not something most parents would willingly choose. Yet many who travel this path discover rich, unexpected rewards along the way. In this candid and poignant collection of personal stories, sixty-three mothers describe the gifts of respect, strength, delight, perspective, and love, which their child with Down syndrome has brought into their lives.

The contributors to this collection have diverse personalities and perspectives, and draw from a ...

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Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives

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Having a baby with Down syndrome is not something most parents would willingly choose. Yet many who travel this path discover rich, unexpected rewards along the way. In this candid and poignant collection of personal stories, sixty-three mothers describe the gifts of respect, strength, delight, perspective, and love, which their child with Down syndrome has brought into their lives.

The contributors to this collection have diverse personalities and perspectives, and draw from a wide spectrum of ethnicity, world views, and religious beliefs. Some are parenting within a traditional family structure; some are not. Some never considered terminating their pregnancy; some struggled with the decision. Some were calm at the time of diagnosis; some were traumatized. Some write about their pregnancy and the months after giving birth; some reflect on years of experience with their child.

Their diverse experiences point to a common truth: The life of a child with Down syndrome is something to celebrate. These women have something to say-not just to other mothers but to all of us.

Winner of a Mom's Choice Award -- 2008 Silver Recipient: Special & Exceptional Needs

2008 National Parenting Publications Gold Award

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Carolyn H Richardson, EdD (University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center)
Description: This is a collection of stories by mothers who have at least one child with Down syndrome.
Purpose: The editor states she wishes she could have had a book like this during the first year of her child's life. Her hope is that it will provide something new for parents beyond the scientific information so readily available on the Internet.
Audience: The intended audience includes parents of a child with Down syndrome as well as those who know they will be delivering a child with Down syndrome. However, this book could have a far broader audience. Anyone providing or studying to provide healthcare or educational services to these children should find a wealth of valuable information to assist them in working with the families.
Features: This wonderful array of stories by mothers points out both how their children and families are unique and how they are similar to all children and families. The book allows readers to understand that although Down syndrome is a unique experience for each family, it is indeed a human experience and that the child should always precede the diagnosis. The families differ in size and family makeup, in the ages of the children, race/ethnicity, and parent educational levels; reside throughout North America in urban and rural settings; and include natural/adoptive parents. There is even a story of a mother who lost her child to cancer, a rarer complication for children with Down syndrome. The theme remains the same — all parents process the diagnosis and have happiness as well as sadness, hopes and dreams, and challenges. All parents have the same experiences and this lesson, while not often expressed in the book, should not be lost for healthcare and educational providers. Although the book emphasizes the humanity of the families, readers will find some scientific information as the parents note the information they were provided as well as the various medical issues many of the children had to face. These situations all provide insights for both parents and professionals. Each story provides a picture as well as a brief description of the family. This allows readers to understand the variety of family makeup and residential settings. The cover picture is a wonderful reminder that parents of all children want to share their family experiences.
Assessment: I would highly recommend this book be used in healthcare and education training programs and settings. It will allow for great discussions of family challenges as well as comparisons of the similarities of all families. It would be a wonderful offer to all parents at the time of diagnosis, whether that occurs prenatal or after birth. A brief search for similar books led to several written for parents by professionals which offer insight into the scientific discoveries as well as information about the most common concurrent health issues of these children, but most of them were published in the 1990s or early 2000s. (Parents and students may find more current scientific data on the Internet.) One book, Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents' Guide, by Stray-Gundersen (Woodbine House, 1995), includes a foreword by an adult self advocate that can provide parents a perspective that is not usually found in the literature. The remainder of this book is based upon scientific information, but does provide parent statements at the end of each chapter. Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, by Beck (Berkley Books, 1999), provides one parent's account of her experience with diagnosis and parenting a child with Down syndrome. However, of all of the potential comparable books, none provides the same format and variety of parental experiences as Gifts.
ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners
This book will accompany the reader long after it is placed on the bookshelf. The advice and resources provided will help many, and the theme of determination will inspire all to cheer for those with Down's, as well as their families. A companion volume is in the works offering more stories of love, acceptance and hope (writer's guidelines are available at

I thoroughly enjoyed this paperback book. Not often can a book touch one's heart--I found, more than once, a tear in my eye and a smile on my lips. It is a testament to what can be accomplished with love, patience and determination and will be an invaluable resource for anyone associated with the care of individuals with Down syndrome.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890627850
  • Publisher: Woodbine House
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Pages: 278
  • Sales rank: 236,503
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn Lynard Soper is the mother of seven children. Her youngest, Thomas, born in 2005, was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. Kathryn received a BA in English from Brigham Young University in 1993. She is president of Segullah Group, Inc., a non-profit producer of personal writings, and is editor of Segullah, a literary journal by and for Latter-day Saint (Mormon) women. She is currently writing a memoir about her first year with Thomas. Kathryn lives with her husband, Reed, and their children in the mountain west.
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Table of Contents

Foreword   Martha Sears, RN     xvii
Introduction: Gifts: Two Birth Stories   Kathryn Lynard Soper     xix
The Gift of Respect
Aidan's Gift   Valle Dwight     3
What To Do With A Boy   Jessica Capitani     10
On His Thirteenth Birthday   Jodi Reimer     16
Belonging   Rebecca Phong     21
Oh, Yeah?   Robin Roach     25
From Generation to Generation   Debbie Ellenbogen     30
Different   Tammy Hodson     34
It's Better Than Good   Janine Steck Huffman     38
Mommy   Kelly Rimmer     44
Acceptance   Shari Adelson-Pollard     47
Sunshine   Jeanette Bollinger     51
Who's Winning?   Sandra Assimotos-McElwee     55
The Gift of Strength
Notes From the Deep End   Jennifer Enderlin Blougouras     61
For Such a Time as This   Emily Vesper     64
Travels with Brendan   Tammy Westfahl     68
For James   Leilani Lucas     72
Nourishment   Deborah Minner     76
Matthew's Secret   Katy Shapro     80
Lifting Each Other   Anita Minor     83
The School of Life   Ann Bremer     87
Fight the Good Fight   Joanne M. Crouse     91
The Dream   Rosemarie Aiello-Gertz     95
We Are Not Alone   Michelle Adams     99
Where There's a Will, There's a Way   Kelly Anderson     103
Emma Sage   Tara Marie Hintz     107
The Gift of Delight
Surprise!   Cynthia Yunke     113
Light the Way   Alicia Culp     118
Blue Ribbon. First Place   Carol B. Mills     123
The Buddha Bean   Beth Crawford     127
A Hopeful Future   Nancy Iannone     130
Enjoying the Ride   Leah Spring     135
Lost and Found   Traci Cross Williams     139
In the Moment   Gina Vivona     142
Expecting   Peggy Cooper-Smith     145
Green Onion   Cori Guillaume     149
Big Sister   Karen Roberts     152
Speech Therapy   Kelly Schuh     156
Loving Emma Jayne   Emily Zeid      159
The Gift of Perspective
Beginning   Renee Sherman     169
Entertaining Angels   Barbara Curtis     174
Defining Moments   Sherrill Rechner     177
Slow Motion   Stephanie Bissol     183
When the Other Shoe Drops   Beth Price     187
Ups and Downs   Bethany Balsis     193
Miracle Man   Katy Servos     198
Stepping Out   Stefanie M. Miller     204
Lucky   Carey Branam     208
Nolan: A Little Dream   Catherine Finn     212
The Eighth-Grade Dance   Nicol Hudson     215
What I Know Now   Carla Reeves     219
The Gift of Love
The Life that Chose Me   Monica Braat     225
Tiny Hands   Courtney Koblitz Fields     230
Brothers   Dena Castellano-Farrell     236
Birthday Guilt   Michelle Helferich     240
Kindness Received   Francine Ferraro Rothkopf     244
The Blessing of an Imperfect Life   Janis Gonzales     248
Growing   Sarahlynn Lester     253
Through the Eyes of Love   Tammy Bonser     259
Crecer Con Amor   Charo Boggian     263
Quality of Life   Renee Parker     268
The Luckiest People in the World   Jane Leahy-Smith     273
Live Long, Laugh Often, Love Much   Andi Matthews     278
First Words   Jennifer Graf Groneberg     288
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Gifts is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The

    Gifts is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling Author and; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom’s Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2008

    A reviewer

    Ater delivering our precious daughther who was then diagnosed with DS, I stumbled across this book. I could not put it down. I have loaned it to family members and recommended it to someone currently awaiting the delivery of her son with DS. My sister-in-law said that reading this book will make you wish you had a DS baby of your own. If you or a friend or a family member is or might be having a baby with DS, read this book first!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2007

    A gift is the truth

    A gift really describes this book and I think every person who reads this book will tell everyone they know about it. The stories told in this book touch a persons heart and truely depict what a Gift each and every life is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    Must Read for Any Parent or Person Who Loves A Child with DS

    As the mother of an 8 month old son with Down syndrome, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has (or is a expecting) a child with Down syndrome in his/her life -- from parents to family members to teachers to social workers to OB/GYNs. Parents who are also considering termination of a pregnancy should be given this opportunity to glimpse into real-life experiences with our children -- to counter the antiquated beliefs and prejudices about them. I wish someone had given me this book when I first gave birth. The stories are honest, forthright, raw, sad, happy, heartwarming, uplifting, inspiring -- In reading them I felt such a connection to each mom because we've all walked the same road...albeit with its challenges, but the most rewarding and significant measure of being human. Hats off to these loving, brave moms! I only hope there are other volumes to come!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2007

    One of the most inspiring books I have read.

    I am the father of an 18 year old daughter with DS and am physician in chief of Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. GIFTS is one of the most inspiring books I have read. And I am not noted for being a warm, fuzzing, sensitive guy in fact, recently my wife said that I scored quite low on the 'sensitivity scale.' I have given copies of GIFTS to about 50 new parents of babies with DS at our IDSF (Indiana Down Syndrome) and DADS (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome) functions and when babies with DS have been admitted to Riley Hospital, usually for open heart surgery. The response from these parents has been one of the most amazing things I have observed. One mother told me that this book is exactly what she needed when she was having such emotional difficulties shortly after the birth of their new baby. I bought another 100 copies of GIFTS and will give a copy to any parent of a baby with DS or who is pregnant with a baby with DS. Rich Schreiner, Indianapolis IN Rich Schreiner | 06.14.07 ¿ 10:00 am |

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2007

    PERFECT for parents who just found out

    This is the book any parent who finds out about the diagnosis of Down Syndrome needs to read. The medical information is important but doesn't give your perspective of how life is after the child is born. This is not only a much needed book but should be required reading for anyone who deals with pregnancy and special needs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is brimming with beautiful stories of Mothers of children with Down syndrome. It truly shows the light that shines in the lives of people who are blessed to know these children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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