As an author & mother, what gave you the strength to share your personal story?
When Penny was diagnosed with Down syndrome a few hours after birth, I didn't know how to respond. Over the course of the next year, I think I experienced every possible emotion–sadness, joy, anger, acceptance, guilt, peace–and I wrote in my journal about each of those emotions. Over time, I wrote about these feelings on a private blog, and I learned that they were helpful to other parents, not only parents of children with disabilities, but parents in general who were struggling to handle their hopes and dreams and fears for their children. The response of other parents to my writing gave me great encouragement that if I wrote honestly about our experience–the beautiful and ugly parts–it would be a blessing to many.
What were you hoping to accomplish when writing this book? How were you hoping to touch the reader?
My favorite books are ones that tell a good story and also make me think. I hope that A Good and Perfect Gift tells a good story–a story of a young couple who thought they knew what to expect when having their first child and instead had to go through a process to receive her as the child they had always wanted, a story of doubt and struggle and gratitude and love. I also hope A Good and Perfect Gift makes people think–about what makes a "good" life, about the nature of perfection, and about the idea that every human being is a gift to the rest of us.
What were you hoping parents who also have a child with Down syndrome would take away from your book? Someone who is not directly affected by Down syndrome?
I think most people assume that I wrote A Good and Perfect Gift for other parents of children with Down syndrome. On one level, that's true. I hope that other parents can use our story as a way to reflect upon their own, and I've heard from many parents that they found reassurance and encouragement from reading about our family. But I actually wrote it for people who don't know much about Down syndrome or disabilities. I wasn't trying to teach them about chromosomes, I was trying to pass along the various ways that having a daughter with Down syndrome has changed the way I view the world. Having Penny in my life has taught me to see every human being as a gift, as a person who has something to offer to me, and who has something to receive from me. I would love for readers to walk away from this book with the assumption that people with physical and intellectual disabilities have just as much to contribute to our society as anyone else.