One of the dearest little girls that God ever created, came to me to be my daughter. I named her Julianne Teresa, and called her Juli. She came to me as a foster child in the beginning, and was a miserable little soul. She weighed sixteen pounds, was sixteen months old, and cried all the time. She just sat and cried. She apparently had spent most of her life crying, which was most of the reason she was put into foster care. Juli had Down's Syndrome, and had been born with duodenal atresia. Without an operation, she would have died. This option to let her die was given her birth parents, and they refused. So these people who deeply loved their baby, and a surgeon saved a little baby's life. Little did they all know what a precious child she would be!
I spent endless time cuddling Juli. I only had one other little foster baby, and he couldn't walk, so I had lots of time for cuddling. Juli couldn't walk either. She could crawl, but did not. She just sat and cried. I tried to interest her in toys, dancing, music, going on picnics, everything. When I would give her a bottle, she would guzzle eight ounces down, and then, promptly, throw up. I learned to give her only five ounces at a time, because that worked much better. Little by little, she began to grow, and thrive, and develop joy. What a thrill this was to me!
Juli became very healthy, and very happy. Her blonde wisps turned into shiny fair hair, and her eyes were oh, so blue! But most of all, her personality was so sweet! When she smiled, it was pure sunshine. She took her first step at Sears, in the baby department, at three years old! By this time she was a truly happy little girl, and more than that, she was kind! If I cried, she would come to me, hug me, and pat my back with the most tender hands! If I hurt myself, she would come to kiss it! If I lay down on the couch, she would toddle over and find a baby blanket, and bring it, and cover me up with her gentle little hands!
When I changed her baby sister Noelle's diaper, Juli would follow me to the bathroom, and beg to help dunk her diaper in the toilet, to clean it! At first I wouldn't think of it. But she kept asking. At last, I let her hold the clean part, and dip the diaper up and down, up and down. You would have thought she had just been given the Crown Jewels! Her face was radiant! She was so proud, and so excited! It was our first real mother/daughter experience together! Her choice, too!
Juli was a wonderful big sister. She played gently, always gently with her baby sister. My other foster baby was gone by this time, and so I had my two little girls. I took lots of home movies. My husband and I took the babies camping. Juli was a camper at heart from the beginning. Except for one thing. She was still scared of tall grass. How she got that way, I'll never know, but tall grass was so scary to her, you would think she thought it was going to eat her alive! So my husband and I would each take a hand, and she'd stick her legs straight out in front of her in the air, as we carried her over any tall grass that we came to! The expression on her face was one of grim determination. All her effort was concentrated on keeping her legs raised up as high as possible! Since she was very limber, this was high indeed! It was the funniest thing, though of course, not to her. Eventually she outgrew that fear.
When she was three years old, my marriage dissolved without any warning. I was pregnant with my third baby, Kyle, and we were on our own. When Kyle was born, Juli got a new idea. She wanted to change his diaper! I had changed to disposables by this time, and so this was an easy thing to do, and I let her help me. Little did I know she was going to continue enjoying changing diapers for the next thirty years! As I write, it's that long, and she's still at it!
Also, when Juli was three years old, I found a special school, funded by a special grant, for preschoolers with Down's Syndrome. I learned so much in that school! The teachers showed me everything they were doing, to teach these darling children. They let me watch my sweet girl through a one-way window. I learned ways of encouraging her "good talking!" and "good walking!" The teachers would pop a tiny bit of cheesie in her mouth each time she cooperated in doing something. She was sooooo cooperative! She STILL loves cheesies!
That's not to say she was ALWAYS cooperative. Juli could be amazingly stubborn. But she was never meddlesome, and never a trouble-maker. Her sweet spirit made her a very pleasant person to live with!