When Dave and Jane met as children, they might not have realized that they were meant to spend the rest of their lives together. That’s what happened though. They fell in love, married and had five children. When they gave birth to their son, Tommy, they didn’t realize that their lives were about to change.
Tommy was born with Down Syndrome. It’s a congenital disorder caused by cells that don’t divide normally during development of the fetus during pregnancy. Children with Down Syndrome have some of the same features and health problems, but they can differ from one child to the next. They normally have short legs and arms, an irregular shape to the tongue and mouth as well as health problems like heart defects.
When Tommy was born to Dave and Jane Daulton, they were shocked. For the first year of his life, they prayed that Tommy could be fixed. They soon came to realize that any fixes to Tommy would change who he is. The Daultons stopped praying for a fix and lovingly accepted their son. Their family was complete and wonderful.
In 1985, a tragedy struck their family when Brian had a bad reaction to the anesthesia used during surgery. He went into a coma for three days before he died at the age of 4 years old. His death shook the entire family. Even 30 years later, his mother says thinking about Brian brings her to tears.
Five years later, Jane had a dream that a sweet, little baby with Down Syndrome needed a home. For three nights in a row, she had the same dream. She knew she needed to pay attention to that dream. The couple called an agency specializing in adoption and were told that classes were filled. Miraculously, ten minutes later, the agency called back to tell the couple there was a cancellation. They needed to be there that very night.
A few months later, they adopted Ben. He was born with a heart defect. The agency asked if the couple was sure about their choice. Jane says that God asked her to trust him, and she did. Seven months later, Ben had surgery to create a mitral valve in his heart because he didn’t have one. They kept Ben paralyzed for a week after surgery to make sure the operation would be a success.
It took some time, but Ben recovered and the Daultons wanted to adopt again. Their next child was Emily, a young girl with Down Syndrome from Ethiopia. After their adoption of Emily, they were contacted about a boy named Daniel with serious medical problems. They adopted him in the hospital, but he died 9 months later. This second loss of a child brought back memories of Brian. The pain of their loss made them withdraw from their adoption of children with Down Syndrome.
Months later, they were coming back from a vacation and met with Emily’s foster mother at her home. She told them about an adorable girl named Lani. If they hadn’t stopped, they would never have known about her.
They heard about adoption of children in the Ukraine, but when Dave went there, he noticed that there were no pictures of children with Down Syndrome in the books. The officials there believe that no one would want these kids. The Daultons certainly did. They adopted more children from international adoption.
Over the last 20 years, the Daultons have opened their home and their hearts to 9 children with Down Syndrome, and they believe they are richer people for doing it.