Interview on Down Syndrome Baskets

  • March 19, 2015
  • #8578

Listen to Joni interview Carissa, a mother of a boy with Down syndrome who encourages people to congratulate special needs families.

Interview on Down Syndrome Baskets

Joni: Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a special friend in the studio.

Yesterday you heard me share with about my friend Carissa; she is a mother of two darling boys, Luke who is your typical 4-year-old and Jack who is 2 years old and has Down syndrome.  When Carissa was pregnant with Jack, she wasn’t expecting a child with special needs—in fact, it wasn’t until after Jack was born that Carissa received the news that her son had Down syndrome.  And it was the pitiful, dismal way in which that news was delivered that sparked the idea of “Jack’s baskets.” These are encouragement baskets filled with donated gifts and helpful information all to congratulate families welcoming a baby, a newborn infant, with Down syndrome to their home. And here to tell us more about that is Jack’s mom, Carissa. Welcome to the studio Carissa!

Carissa:  Thank you!

Joni:  How is the news typically delivered to moms and dads?

Carissa:  In our case when we had Jack I was actually an emergency C-section and my husband had to give us the news because they had told him while I was still recovering.

Joni:  What did the nurse say to your husband?

Carissa:  The nurse said, “Are you aware of Trisomy 21?”  And that isn’t the language we use in our everyday conversations and he kind of looked confused and she said, “Well, Down syndrome.” And she proceeded to kind of explain just based on the characteristics of Jack that he was showing.  My husband was in shock.  He was confused.  He didn’t have a lot of knowledge about Down syndrome so he didn’t know if Jack was okay, if he was going to have a lot of health conditions, if he was going to live.  That’s how much we didn’t know about Down syndrome at that point.

Joni:  So it’s pretty hard to celebrate the birth of a child when there is so much misinformation and so much fear that is communicated.  In fact, you know I read on your blog that one hospital wanted you to come and speak on your perspective on how to receive the news of a diagnosis of Down syndrome.  It sounds like hospitals are working on best practices on how to deliver that news.  Can you speak to that?

Carissa:  I had the amazing opportunity to go back and talk to the staff where I delivered both my sons, and it was an opportunity to really give a family’s perspective on what it really is like to raise a child with Down syndrome and what those first moments are like, giving them a background of what we experienced when we heard the diagnosis and how it was given and then to really bridge the gap between medical professionals and actual families loving and thriving with their children with Down syndrome.

Joni:  So “Jack’s baskets” are baskets of encouragement that you deliver to new mothers in hospitals.  How are the parents responding?

Carissa:  I had the opportunity to give a basket this past weekend and when I walked into the room and saw the mom I was able to give her a hug.  I could just feel that she was thankful that she had somebody that has been through the same experience she have.  I encouraged her, I know the feelings you are going through and really came alongside of her and listened to her questions and her fears and I think in any circumstance in life to have somebody that has been there, that can really encourage you and have hope.

Joni:  Friend listening I hope you have been moved to celebrate the other mothers and dads of babies with Down syndrome and do that by sending a card or an email with an encouraging Bible verse or a sweet gift.  You can remind these parents that their special needs child is a gift from God, just like any other child.  If you would like to learn more about “Jack’s baskets” visit my radio page at where we have a link to Carissa’s blog.  Take a look at the photos that we posted of Jack and his family and one of Jack’s baskets. Carissa, in honor of this coming World Down Syndrome day, thank you for sharing and for inspiring us to celebrate the lives of every child.

© Joni and Friends


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