My step-daughter Alia is 23 today. She has been thinking and talking about her birthday since March 22, 2018. Today is also World Down Syndrome Day, which is a day to celebrate the lives of people with Down syndrome. So, in regards to Alia, we have two things to commemorate.

Imagine a stereotypical twentysomething young woman and you have a pretty clear picture of Alia. She loves singing and dancing. She loves doing her make-up and having her nails done. She has her celebrity crushes. She wants nothing more than to be hanging out with her friends. She’s excited to start a new job. Her phone with its selfie-creating camera, text messaging, YouTube videos and her Spotify playlist is permanently attached to her hand. Her favorite drinks are root beer, mascato wine, and margaritas not necessarily in that order.

She just happens to have three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the two.

Alia and her sister Brynne were part of the package when I married their mother. I thought I maybe had an idea what I was getting into, but I was not even remotely in the ballpark. What I’ve learned more often than not is that I have a vast sum of patience and I’ve learned to temper any frustrations I feel. Of course, I fail at this constantly. However, I’m getting better and thankfully I have an understanding wife.

Alia brings so much joy and happiness to the house that it can be infectious. Random dance parties are bound to erupt out of the blue, especially if her best friend is spending the night.

Alia is the best judge of character and I have learned to rely on her observations. If she warms up to you immediately, I know she has an instinctive trust. If she ignores or dismisses you, then something is always amiss. More often than not she is spot on.

Her smile lights up any room she happens to be in. She is quick to anger and just as quick to laugh. Her emotions are always at the forefront. No one can ignore Alia.

Basically, every day is an adventure with Alia (and her Mom and sister too).

I’m incredibly lucky to get to see her grow up and become more independent. I’m proud of her accomplishments and how brave she’s been lately. Her future is wide open and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

March 21, 2019

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