Down Syndrome Baby Baskets

  • March 18, 2015
  • #8578

A diagnosis of Down Syndrome is a shock to new parents but Carissa has found a way to encourage other families like her.

Down Syndrome Baby Baskets

I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and the Saturday is going to be World Down Syndrome Day.

Some years ago when Carissa was pregnant, she and her husband awaited their coming child with such joy, such excitement. With the nursery decorated just so, and all the baby supplies lined up neat and tidy, the only thing left was to give birth. But suddenly, their unborn child’s heart rate dramatically dropped and Carissa was rushed in for an emergency C-section. Her husband waited outside the delivery room, and he waited and waited until finally a nurse came in with their newborn wrapped in her arms and asked, “Have you ever heard of Trisomy 21?” the nurse said to the new father. He shook his head ‘no’ and the nurse replied, “Well, your son has Down syndrome; enjoy your baby.”

When Carissa awoke in recovery, it was her husband who shared the shocking news that their son, Jack, had Down syndrome. The next day, Carissa had to ask for information on what Down syndrome was; what it meant, what it involved. Someone came back into her room with a white binder that was titled, “Down Comforter”. It was an outdated binder filled with general information on Down syndrome including the various developmental delays that their child would experience cognitively and physically. To her, it was just a bunch of blurry medical information that scared her to death.

Over the next few days, as the reality of Jack’s condition began to sink in, Carissa almost became indignant – she felt as though she and her husband had been robbed of that one moment of celebration, all because Down syndrome had been the defining factor about their son. “But that shouldn’t be,” Carissa thought to herself. Although she was still confused and struggling with feelings of grief, she picked up the binder, turned a few more pages and wondered, “What if, instead of this binder, a family could be congratulated and presented with a gift? What if that set the tone, a chance to celebrate a beautiful baby?”

That’s when the idea of Jack’s baskets was born. Carissa and her family and friends began putting together “congratulations baskets” for families that received the diagnosis of Down syndrome, whether that diagnosis came before or after the child’s birth. The baskets contain a cozy blanket, a onesie, some donated toys, and the latest information on Down syndrome. But that’s not all. Each congratulations basket includes a personalized letter from Carissa with a photo of little Jack and the family. And how does that letter open? Carissa writes, Dear Parents, Hello, my name is Carissa and I would love to be one of the first people to congratulate you on your newest addition to your family.” The letter goes on to share their personal story in hopes of encouraging another new family who’ve been granted the privilege of raising a child with Down syndrome.

Now, before I go any further I want to mention that we will be talking to Carissa tomorrow. But in the meantime, aren’t Jack’s baskets a great idea? And Carissa and her family have given away many of them. In fact, if you tune in tomorrow, we’ll get to hear from Carissa herself on how these baskets have led to wonderful relationships and a growing network for all these families who have a Down syndrome child. And when you have a minute, visit my radio page today at and see a photo of Carissa and family (including Jack), and then watch an amazing video highlighting the abilities of kids and young adults with Down syndrome from all around the world. It’s all in celebration of this weekend’s World Down Syndrome Day.

© Joni and Friends


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