Kelsi and her husband Jim welcomed a new baby, Colt, into their family in July 2014. They were immediately in love. He was baby number 6.
Shortly after his birth, they were told that he had Trisomy 21: Down syndrome. While his extra chromosome was a surprise, from that first moment, they saw it as a gift.
“We knew that our son was ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ in the image of God,” Kelsi says, “and there are no mistakes.”
When they brought him home, they wanted the world to know that they celebrated his Down syndrome, and that he brought them just as much joy as their five others, and incorporated this into his birth announcement.
“All of my children have struggles and different abilities that grow their character, while also allowing their unique gifts to stand out and shine,” Kelsi said. “They don’t need to excel in the same areas as their siblings to be amazing in their own way.”
We knew that our son was ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ in the image of God, and there are no mistakes.
And for this reason, she has never felt that raising Colt is any different than her other five.
Over the coming months, Colt’s smiles, hugs, and love continued to warm their hearts. He’s known for his goodnight kisses, funny faces, insistence on waving at strangers until he gets a wave back, singing and dancing. But beyond, that, Kelsi says, Colt has added something even more to their lives.
“Our love for Colt opened our eyes to our fear of discomfort and of disabilities, the pursuit of ease, and the desire to stay on the safe road, all of which keep us from the joy of living a life in a deeper love for others,” she said, and through Colt their family came to see immense joy and beauty in Down syndrome.
Kelsi and Jim had never thought about adoption before this, but after Colt’s birth, they came across an organization called Reece’s Rainbow, an organization dedicated to finding homes for orphans with Down syndrome.
Around the world, most children with Down syndrome are not born into loving homes with 5 wonderful older siblings and 2 adoring parents; in fact, many of them end up in orphanages, abandoned, treated as outcasts with nothing to add to society.
“We saw their faces and pictured Colt being born into those circumstances,” Kelsi says, “and our hearts broke for these children.”
They kept tabs on the Reece’s Rainbow website for almost a year, always saying they would adopt “one day,” when they came across a precious baby boy in Reece’s Rainbow on a friend’s Instagram page. He had Down syndrome and had just been abandoned at an orphanage in the Ukraine, only a few months old.
In that moment, Kelsi says, “we realized that we would cross the ocean or give our lives for every single one of our children, and the only thing holding us back from doing the same for this child was fear. And God is so much bigger than any of our fears. He is powerful and faithful, and we needed to trust in Him with the details of the plans that He had laid out for our family.”
They welcomed Nic into their family, and though the international adoption process wasn’t easy, Kelsi says, “God took care of every detail,” from the funding to the travel and every challenge that came along the way.
Today, Kelsi shares openly about Colt and Nic on her Instagram page, @downrightwonderful. She feels called to help share the joy and beauty of Down syndrome and hopes that through sharing they can help end old stereotypes.
“When I read notes about how God is using Colt and Nic to comfort others who have received a Down syndrome diagnosis, bring joy to someone going through a hard time, strengthen the faith of someone, encourage another to adopt, and so many other beautiful ways, I’m reminded of God’s goodness that He chose to use a 4 and 3 year old, who happen to have an extra chromosome, to do mighty things for Him,” Kelsi said in a recent Instagram post.
He chose to use a 4 and 3 year old, who happen to have an extra chromosome, to do mighty things for Him.
Their family also regularly helps organize fundraisers for Down syndrome adoption through her Instagram page, most recently selling T-shirts that say, “Fearfully and downright wonderfully made.”
“The world seeks the beautiful, perfect, or the normal,” Kelsi says, “they are quick to abort, mourn over or throw out anyone they deem inconvenient, less worthy or less able. And these are the very ones that God has chosen to use to free us from these worldly pursuits, to teach us in ways that none of those the world considers great, beautiful, rich or famous could ever do.”
Find Kelsi, Colt, Nic and family on Instagram @downrightwonderful and on her blog, downrightwonderful.net.