Man Raised By Father With Down Syndrome Has A Message For The World

While growing up, just about every child is embarrassed by their parents. That changes as they pass through their teenage years and into adulthood, however. It’s only when we become older that we realize how special our family truly is. No one would be where they are today, both literally and figuratively, without their mom and dad standing behind them each step of the way.

One man in Syria, however, had a truly unique experience growing up. His father had Down Syndrome, and that incredible man recently came forward to explain what it was like to grow up in his household, raised by a dad with a genetic disorder.

Sader Issa was born in Syria and grew up in a loving household. When he got older, however, he came to realize that his parents were not the same as everyone else’s.

Sader Issa/ Instagram

Sader’s father, Jad, worked in a mill near the family home. Despite his seemingly ordinary life, with a job, a wife, and a son, there was something different about him.

SSSD

Jad had Down Syndrome. The disorder, also known as trisomy 21, is caused by a third copy of a person’s 21st chromosome. While symptoms vary between cases, Down Syndrome has several common effects.

Municipal University

Virtually all people with Down Syndrome have some level of mental impairment; most have stunted physical growth and flat, round faces. But other side effects of the disorder are less obvious.

Sader Issa/Instagram

Most people with Down Syndrome never have children. While females often have fertility issues, men can biologically reproduce, but usually do not due to their disability. Jad, however, was an exception to the rule.

After Jad and his wife welcomed Sadar into the world, they wanted to ensure that he had as close to a normal childhood as possible. Their home would be a place of love and safety.

Fadi Hallisso

As Sadar got older, he came to realize that his father was different. Down Syndrome, however, didn’t affect his ability to create a loving home. In fact, it did the opposite.

“For my father, it was easy,” Sader explained. “A child who grows up in the lap of a person with Down Syndrome will have all the love and tenderness that anyone can offer.”

That environment will only help the child in the long run. “This will lead up to a person who has an emotional and social balance and is able to achieve anything,” Sader said.

Jad’s love wasn’t confined to his family, however. While working at the mill, he became a beloved pillar of the local community. No one looked down upon or pitied him; he was simply Jad.

Surrounded by his family’s love and support, Sadar grew into a man. His parents provided him with a “normal life,” and, eventually he started to think about picking a career. One specific job stood out.

Sader Issa/ Instagram

Sadar decided that he wanted to become a dentist. As he embarked on the next stage of his life and started his studies, there was always one person cheering him on.

Aga Khan Development Network

As with any other family, his dad was always behind him. “During my studies, [Jad] was my biggest supporter economically, psychologically, and in all respects and thanks to his support,” Sadar recalled.

Sader Issa/ Instagram

While Jad always loved his son, he’s especially happy about Sadar’s career path. He’ll frequently tell people that “[his] son is a doctor,” beaming with pride. But there’s another thing that he’s proud of.

Sadar thinks that his dad is especially proud that he raised a successful son, despite having Down Syndrome. It’s a point of pride and a way to show that he’s just like anyone else.

Sader Issa/ Instagram

“It’s like he’s saying, ‘I have Down Syndrome, but I raised my son did everything to help him become a doctor,” Sadar explained. But Jad isn’t the only one who’s proud.

Sader Issa/ Instagram

As an adult, Sadar has come to realize how special his father truly is. While it would have been easy for him to feel sorry for himself, Jad never moped. He worked every day to help his family.

SSSD

“For me, if I could choose who my father is, I wouldn’t think of someone else,” Sadar said. “I’m proud of him the same way he is proud of me.”

Jad’s selflessness has also helped motivate Sadar to carry on his legacy. He tries to “do all [he] can to be the best person for the sake of [his father] who worked hard” for him since he was a boy.

SSSD

While Sadar and Jad’s relationship might seem different at first glance, there’s nothing abnormal about it. The pair love and inspire each other; at the end of the day, that’s what family is all about.

Two people who learned a lot from Sadar and Jad were Jodi and Matt Parry. They married in 2007. After welcoming a baby boy, Finlay, into the world, it didn’t take long for the UK couple to try for a another child.

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The happy family was prepared this time, taking all the advised precautions you can take during a pregnancy. Jodi had miscarried once before giving birth to Finlay, and she wasn’t going to let another tragedy befall her unborn child.

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Cautious and prepared, Jodi couldn’t shake her anxiety during a checkup scan in search of her baby’s heartbeat. So when the sonographer told her she could, in fact, hear a heartbeat, Jodi squeezed Matt’s hand and cried with relief. Then, she received a shocking bit of news…

Katie Noble / Flickr

There were not one, but two babies in there! Matt and Jodi both felt tears of joy fall down their faces. They would be welcoming twin girls into the world—the perfect additions to their family of three.

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

That’s when things took a downward turn. Jodi delivered both children without complications, though the twins arrived six weeks premature. Doctors placed them into the neonatal ward for additional care and attention. Unfortunately, Jodi and Matt were about to receive even more unfortunate news…

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

At first, the neonatal intensive care proved effective. Over the first few days, the twins recovered strength and looked to be growing into healthy babies. As days turned to weeks, however, doctors became concerned. They preformed a few tests and then, suspicions confirmed, gave Matt and Jodi the bad news…

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

When the doctors approached the nervous parents, Jodi knew something was wrong. In her blog, she wrote that doctors took her and her husband to “a bare, clinical side-room with three chairs.” She took a seat beside her husband in the sterile office, unable to hold back tears.

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

The doctor cleared his throat and laid the news out flatly. “I’m sorry,” he said, according to Jodi’s blog post. “Both Abigail and Isobel have Down syndrome.” Dread knocked Jodi in the gut, and a sensation like “someone had just ripped my heart out” made her chest feel hollow.

Already with one young child to raise, Matt and Jodi feared what it would be like to be the parents of twins with Down syndrome. How had this happened? The odds of both twin babies having the extra chromosome were 1,000,000 to one. However, shortly after receiving the news, something incredible happened…

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

When she found the strength, Jodi checked on her newborn twins, her thoughts racing. How would she feel? How would she react? She watched her babies for a moment, digesting, processing, and then was blindsided by her emotions: amazingly, her love for her new children only intensified.

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

Still, even with hearts full of love, the couple struggled with their new reality. Matt told Barcroft TV, “It was as if the whole world had ended. Life was not how I wanted it. I just shut down completely.” What was supposed to be a happy addition of two baby girls to the young family had turned into visions of unimaginable complications.

Questions mounted for Matt and Jodi: “Would the girls walk? Would they talk?” Jodi wrote. With little information on what Down syndrome was or how it would affect the entirety of their lives, the couple left the hospital, dread still weighing them down. How would they cope?

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

When Matt and Jodi arrived at home with the twins, they started Googling Down syndrome and what it would take to raise their daughters. Only after they digested every bit of information available could they start planning their children’s future care. Unfortunately, another dose of doctor-delivered bad news was right around the corner…

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

As it turned out, baby Abigail was deaf and Isobel had a hole in her heart. Compounding matters, both twins had underactive thyroids, meaning they’d be unable to produce certain hormones. They’d spend a lifetime plagued with potential depression, tiredness, and weight gain.

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

Despite mounting medical complications for their twins and visions of endless challenges, the Parrys have embraced life with Abigail and Isobel. Sure, it’s been hard work—though that’s always the case with young twins—but both Matt and Jodi admit their lives have been changed for the better.

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

The twins’ conditions have actually brought the family closer together, according to Matt. Finlay, their son, pitches in helping his sisters and has come to understand the everyday complications of Down syndrome. “It sounds sort of sugar-coated,” Jodi said in an interview, “but the only things that they have brought into our life are positive… There’s nothing in the world that could convince me to change them.”

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

So touched by Isobel and Abigail’s impacts on her life, Jodi organized a campaign focused on helping people to better understand Down syndrome. The Twincess Campaign highlights the positives of raising children with Down syndrome emphasizing how what might seem like a curse is actually a blessing.

Now six years old, the twins have integrated into the mainstream education system. Between themselves, the two communicate almost strictly in sign language, but their spoken language skills are steadily improving.

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

Today, Jodi sees her meeting with the doctor in that sterile, three-seated room much differently. “When the doctor took us to one side to give us the results, he said he was sorry that Abigail and Isobel had Down syndrome,” Jodi said. “To this day, I’ll never know what he was sorry for.”

Twincess Campaign / Facebook

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