The Triumph of Love over Down Syndrome
Saving Delaney is a riveting memoir by Andrea and Keston Ott-Dahl a lesbian couple who describe their journey from surrogacy to unexpectedly becoming parents again. A rainbow would be a very appropriate symbol for this book, covering as it does the full spectrum of human emotions and relationships, lesbian and gay couples wanting to be parents, and a small pot of gold at the end named Delaney.
The story begins with Andrea agreeing to serve as a surrogate mother for another lesbian couple. To save money and hassle the pair ask their friends, a gay couple, to donate the sperm. When the fetus is discovered to have genetic markers for Down syndrome plus a high probability of heart defects, the couple that commissioned the pregnancy began to have doubts and asked that the pregnancy be terminated. Andrea, the biological mother, was fiercely opposed to termination, and she and her partner Keston decide to raise the baby themselves, accepting all the challenges that that entails. The emotion and human drama permeating the situation are riveting and beautifully written. This is also a love story between Keston, who had previously freaked out over anything resembling disability, and Andrea, whose fierce and instinctive love for this little being fighting against the odds was honored and quickly shared by her partner.
Making good use of the Internet, Andrea and Keston connect with support groups and research Down syndrome. They find many things they can do to give their baby the best possible chance for a healthy and happy life, like choline prenatal supplements, and physiotherapy. They carefully prepared Andrea’s young children from a previous marriage for the new arrival, explaining her special needs and even teaching them sign language, which is apparently more readily learned by DS children. What is fascinating is that with their positive and loving attitude, little Delaney has exceeded all the norms associated with DS, before, during, and after birth. Now at the age of two years, she has pretty much kept up with the developmental markers of her non-DS peers.
Considerable effort was required to accomplish this, but with two mama bears on her case Delaney didn’t have much choice. Delaney has not only brought great joy to her family but inspiration to all parents of DS children. She has her own foundation www.DelaneySkye.com and her own blog, on which her impish grin is enough to melt a heart of stone.
One can only wish them the greatest success with their mission of raising a happy and healthy child and of raising awareness of the possibilities available to children affected by DS. As Delaney says on her Facebook page, “I have Down syndrome. I am not Down syndrome. I am me!” And what a little cracker she is!
— Miriam Knight