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   Once upon a time, one of my dearest dreams came true. An adoption caseworker handed me my very own, brand new, seven month old baby girl. My sweet new daughter reminded me of a polliwog. She was incredibly cute. Her body was tiny and scrawny, and her bald head seemed big, with one blonde curl on the top. Her eyes were huge, round and blue. She had Down's Syndrome. I had a wonderful, loving, helpful daughter with this already, and was absolutely thrilled to be able to be a mommy to another. Starr was not thrilled. She took one look at me, screwed up her face and burst into tears! It was an inauspicious beginning. I didn't give it much thought, though. I thought it meant that she must be smart, to have stranger anxiety already!

   Starr was a quiet baby who mainly watched everything that was going on. She stayed on the sidelines. She did not care for toys. She disliked eating, but drank bottles eagerly. She was the quiet recipient of my love, sitting passively on my lap, but preferred to be on the floor. She did enjoy being carried around by me, or her older sister Noelle, who loved her very much. Starr walked early, talked well, and was petite and very cute. She was a happy little girl. She proved to be a unique little girl in abilities and personality. I never knew another child with Down's Syndrome like her.

   When Starr was three years old, she developed a habit I could not understand. Any time I fell asleep on the couch, she would pry my eyelids open with her insistant, sharp fingers. Then, when she saw that I was awake, she would go and play again. She did not want to play with me. She just wanted me to be awake. I could not figure this out then, and never have since.

   Starr was a loner and a dreamer. She played by herself, in the yard, or in her room, and could swing happily for hours, singing off key, and laughing. She especially enjoyed being outside in the rain, with no coat, looking up at the sky, and smiling as raindrops dripped down her face. However, she screamed in rage if the sprinkler got her by mistake on a hot sunny day. I could hear her talking to herself any time of the day. I would smile, and think that she had such an imagination, she reminded me of myself. She never wanted to help. That also reminded me of myself. In chagrin, I remembered hiding away as a child, at relatives' houses, when it was time to help with dishes, and hope no one found me. (That did not work at home!)

   She liked very much to sneak into other people's rooms, and go through their picture albums, taking out pictures, and sometimes stealing them. More often than not, the albums would be found, with pictures all there, but scattered all over the floor. She did this to my own albums too. No correction got through to her. She never stopped. Letting her look at albums in the living room, where I could keep an eye on her, did not help. Giving her an album of her own, with pictures of all of us did not help. Finally, my father built me a cupboard with a combination lock, and we could keep our albums safely in there.

   She was my only child who too often refused to mind, never showed any emotion while being corrected, and never improved her behavior by any means that I tried, or her teachers, or her grandma. She absolutely would not give in, if she did not feel like it. On the other hand, if she did feel like it, she would help, and mind, and be a sweet girl. It was almost as though she was two people, and I could only reach one.

   Starr had been in school programs since eight months old. She liked the infant stimulation I was taught to do with her at home, but as soon as I was instructed to take her to the developmental center at twelve months old, things changed. She hated school every day after. From three years old on, she endured eight hours away from home until she was six and a half years old. I believe her negative school experience caused an alteration in her emotional development. She rode an hour each way on the bus, and spent six hours at school. There was a boy on her bus who had to be restrained. This boy was emotionally disturbed. He could get out of his restraints, and he pulled Starr's hair, spit at her, and threw his clothes at her. The driver became angry with Starr for crouching down in her seat, because she couldn't see what she was doing. (What would she be doing, exactly?!) Starr was labeled "non-compliant" at school. She never spoke at school, and did nothing but sit in the corner. She was afraid of the other children, who were mean to her. The teachers would not protect her, insisting that she had to learn to stick up for herself. She never did. The teachers clearly did not believe me when I told them she did talk at home. (In retrospect, her non-compliance probably influenced their goals for her.) The teachers had a goal on her IEP when she was six years old, that she would make a mark on a paper by the end of the school year. What? She was already coloring at home. She would not play, or cooperate at school. The teachers refused to begin teaching her to read, saying six was too young for Down's Syndrome children. But I knew that Starr was ready.

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