This family of eight wasn’t expecting two additions to the family, but they couldn’t be happier about the arrival of Charlie and Milo, twin boys with big, beaming smiles.
When parents Julie and Dan McConnel from Boise, Idaho, learned that their unborn twins had Down syndrome, they considered placing them up for adoption, according to the Daily Mail. Now, the parents are raising their boys and sharing their story in hopes that more people will have compassion towards children with disabilities.
Julie, a mother of six kids including her recent set of twins, knew there was a chance that she would give birth to multiple children and/or have a child with a disability when she became pregnant at age 45, so she underwent a series of tests to determine the health of the babies.
“The procedure was nerve-racking and the ultrasound already showed several problems, including spots on their hearts and extra fluid build-up, so we weren’t that surprised when we received the news two weeks later that both of the boys had Down syndrome,” said Julie. “Still, it was a terrible day and the months afterwards were the most stressful and agonizing time in our lives.”
Knowing their children would have special needs and that it would be especially difficult to care for them as older parents, the McConnels considered putting them up for adoption. They found a couple interested in raising the boys, but then the adoptive family never completed the paperwork.
Around the same time, Julie and Dan attended a picnic hosted by the local Down syndrome association where they met several parents of children with the genetic disorder. These families encouraged the couple to raise their sons. “It was hard for me to hear it all when I was pregnant, but I’ve learned exactly what they told me, which is that it’s not scary,” Julie said. “You love your kids no matter what. When we finally decided that we weren’t going to let our fear stand in our way, it was easy to make our decision.”
They were thrilled when the babies were born. “Now that I have Charlie and Milo, I have more compassion than I ever had before,” said Julie. “It’s hard to imagine life without them, but I think I’d miss them every day if we had decided not to keep them.”
Julie’s only fear now is that they’ll be rejected or mistreated as adults one day. She hopes they’ll be loved and appreciated in every stage of their life: “I know not everyone will feel that way towards them, but I also feel grateful that we live in a world where people with Down syndrome have more opportunities than they’ve ever had. I hope that by sharing our story I can open people’s eyes a bit.”