Why We Adopted a Child with Down Syndrome

Guest post by 2019 Lifesong adoption matching grant recipient, Down syndrome advocate, and writer, Ellie Sanazaro.


“Your daughter’s test results came back normal.”

“I’m sorry. Can you say that again?”

I sat in disbelief as I listened to the voice on the phone. 6 months earlier, my OB/GYN had told me, “The test detected an extra X chromosome.” Those words had set my husband and me on a journey we never expected: becoming special needs parents.

Or so we thought.

We spent 6 months preparing, researching, and praying. And now, in an instant, it was all undone. We would not be welcoming a child with special needs into our family. Our daughter, Rosalie, was born with the typical 46 chromosomes instead of the 47 we were told to expect.

We were overjoyed, relieved, and also confused

Hadn’t God been working in our hearts over the past 6 months?
Didn’t we feel Him preparing and equipping us for this unique parenting journey?
Even in the sorrow, hadn’t we felt His purpose and peace as He called us to parent a child with a chromosomal disorder?

Yes, yes, and yes! And yet, here we were. We figured maybe we’d just been wrong and moved on, loving our girl.


But months passed and those feelings persisted.

Was it really all for nothing? What was God doing?

And then one day, as I stood in my kitchen with a 3-month-old on my hip, it hit me. What if God does want us to be special needs parents? But what if it’s supposed to happen through adoption?

Scott and I started talking about adopting when we were just 17 years old, and not once in our countless conversations did we ever consider adopting a child with a disability.

And now I was considering something I never thought I would.


I Googled “Down syndrome adoption.”

Totally unsure if anything would come up. To my surprise, there was an entire organization dedicated solely to ensuring every child born with Down syndrome would grow up in a loving family. I clicked on the website of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (NDSAN) and, in an instant, I knew. This was what God had been doing.

After a few weeks of praying, I told Scott. He wasn’t so convinced, but he committed to praying every day. The following year, we welcomed our second daughter, Leonie. And when Leonie was just 6 months old, Scott called me on his way to work and said, “I think we just got our green light from God.” The next week, we applied to an agency and officially started the adoption process.


Down Syndrome advocates
Photos on this post of Ellie and her family were taken by Sarah Keller of Sweet Smiles by Sarah Michelle


9 months later, we met Finn.

He was teeny tiny, so perfect, and had 47 chromosomes like we’d been told to expect during our first pregnancy. Our first 5 months with him were not easy. He had several long hospital stays.

But God has used him to change each of us in ways we will forever be grateful for.

Finn has helped us to slow down and celebrate the little things. He’s helped us better understand God’s love and care for the marginalized. He’s brought unbelievable amounts of joy and sweetness to our family. And he’s shown us that human value doesn’t come from ability.

Every person, no matter his or her abilities, is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.


Ellie Sanazaro is passionate about spreading the message that EVERY child is an Image Bearer.

She is the author of the book Image Bearer, a children’s book that teaches kids a biblical view of disability.


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Keep up with Finn and Ellie here!