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Perfectly Human: My Upward Down Syndrome Journey by Kurt Kondrich

posted by amyjuliabecker


kurtandchloe.jpg

“Can I hold my daughter please?”

My wife Margie delivered our daughter Chloe on May 16th,
2003. I was in my twentieth year as a Police Officer, and I knew there was
something not right in the doctor’s look and voice. Chloe aspirated during her
entry into the world, and as they cleared her lungs I was relieved to hear a
loud cry. Seventeen years earlier, I had delivered a baby on a sidewalk, and I
knew how important it was to hear that crying sound. 

After approximately five minutes of the physicians clearing
Chloe’s lungs, a doctor approached Margie and me and stated in a very sterile
voice that our daughter had “characteristics of Down syndrome.” I did not know
much about this diagnosis, but I said to the masked physician, “Can I hold my
daughter please?” He responded, “Yes, do you want to hold her?” I detected
surprise in his voice, but Chloe looked right into my eyes, and I instantly
fell in love with this precious gift God had given our family. 

We brought Chloe home from the hospital after a long and emotional three-day stay, and as a family we immediately began focusing on what supports and services she would need. My wife Margie and four-year old son Nolan worked tirelessly and passionately with Early Intervention therapists to make sure Chloe had the best possible foundation for life. My wife and son even taught Chloe to read at age three, and now at age seven she reads at the level of her peers. I was amazed by the ABILITIES of this little girl who not long ago would have been labeled uneducable and shipped off to an institution for a life of EXCLUSION. 

My greatest concern after Chloe’s birth was her safety, and one of my biggest fears was my own life expectancy. I knew that as long as I was alive I could protect her, but the chances of me living to be 100 when Chloe turned 60 seemed pretty slim – especially with my wear and tear from the streets. As I prayed, God continued to open doors and close chapters in my life. I felt God pushing me into a profession where I could be a loud voice for these precious children. As career doors opened, I took a leap of faith and left my Law Enforcement career and returned to college to get my Masters Degree in Early Intervention. I now work full-time as an Outreach Director and Advocate for children with disabilities and their families.

Going back to college was honestly more terrifying than some of the demons I faced as a Police Officer. I was sweating profusely when I arrived on campus for my first class. My parents bought me a class ring from the University of Pittsburgh when I received my degree, and I had a silver cross placed in the middle of the stone as a constant visual and reminder of Who carried me through this journey.

Thanks to the tireless work of my wife Margie, son Nolan, and a team of awesome professionals, Chloe continued to grow and advance in her skills and her social and communication skills became her greatest asset. Chloe asks Nolan daily “Are you happy?” and the first thing Nolan will say when he wakes up in the morning is “Where is Chloe?” Nolan has learned at an early age what the true meaning of life and love is and the relationship between Chloe and Nolan can only be described as magical. They are best friends, and Nolan is becoming the type of young man we always prayed for thanks to the purity and unconditional love Chloe has filled him with. 

We decided to do all we could to let the world see what a beautiful, priceless gift Chloe and all children with Down syndrome are to families, communities and schools. As a family we took Chloe to meet as many people as possible, and the efforts have yielded a beautiful harvest. Chloe has been in magazines, books, newspapers, and many online articles. She has met Sarah Palin twice, appeared in a press conference with Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, read to newly elected Pennsylvania Governor Corbett, warmed up with Andy LaRoche and the Pittsburgh Pirates, met many legislators and she was recognized on the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate after they declared World Down Syndrome Day in Pennsylvania because of Chloe’s advocacy efforts for all children. Chloe has called the Governor and many Legislators “Buddy”, and maybe one day she will enter politics and bring the honesty, purity and focus on the most vulnerable members of society that is desperately needed.  Chloe has been on the local news, and she is featured in the national TV series “Facing Life Head On” episode “Going to Bat for Down syndrome” with Andy LaRoche.  I started a site http://chloesmessage.blogspot.com/ so people could see the ABILTIES of children with Down syndrome and new parents could get excited about the future when they received a precious gift like Chloe.

As I studied and researched disabilities I was shocked to learn that 90%+ of children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted. This issue literally kept me awake at night, and I began writing about this silent eugenic movement when I could not sleep. I came up with the acronym SAD SIN (Stop Aborting Down syndrome Individuals Now), and I began a site to post article and facts to wake the culture up and ask, “Who will be targeted next?” I write a regular column at Renew America http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kondrich .

People ask me what it is like to change careers so radically, and I respond that I really have not changed my work focus at all. My mission now is the same as it was during my days as a Police Officer – “To serve and protect”. 



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Comments read comments(10)
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Lauren

posted January 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm


My mother had a cousin with Down’s Syndrome for whom her parents were legal guardians. He inspired her and her sister to be special education teachers. Please continue your good work!



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Ruth Sweeney

posted January 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm


Thank you so much for your inspiring story. You are a wonderful advocate! A good friend of mine just had a little girl with Down Syndrome. Because of your daughter and people like you, she feels hope and supported. God bless!



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Sue

posted January 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm


Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your voice for all of these precious children! My nephew, Tommy, has Down Syndrome and Autism and is non-verbal….thank you for being a “voice in the wilderness” for Tommy, for the sanctity of life and for each individual, special child! God bless you and your family!



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Mike Sullivan

posted January 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm


Kurt has a clear understanding of God’s work in bringing us these gifts. It is the same understanding and guidance that motivates parents in New Zealand to pursue justice against the silent eugenics movement. We are no longer going to stand by and be silent whilst are children are discriminated against by targeted selective abortion.
Thank you Kurt for your inspiration and support.



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CONNIE

posted January 21, 2011 at 7:08 am


WHAT A INSPIRING STORY. I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER. I RELATE VERY WELL. MY SON IS DOWN SYNDROME. HE IS MY WORLD. HE HAS BROUGHT SO MUCH JOY AND HAPPYNESS TO MY LIFE AS WELL I DONT KNOW WHAT I EVERY DID WITHOUT HIM.
GOD BLESS



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Tiffany

posted January 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm


Thank you so much for you help in showing the world how amazing our babies are . My Angelo is almost two and is so clever . I remember watching our President saying ” watching me bowl is like watching the special Olympics “, and at that moment I realised just how uneducated not only our congress but general public is in regards to our babies . Angelo is. Sign master lol . My baby has the strongest will and refuses to give up with anything he thinks he has not mastered . Angelo talks not in sentences but he is not even two ,he knows his colors and can place shapes in sorters . I truly believe Angelo was my perfect gift from god and just how he was intended to be sent . Perfect



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BridgetBOYER32

posted March 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm


People in the world get the loan from various banks, just because it is simple and comfortable.



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Kathleen

posted March 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm


I met your beautiful wife one day at Penney’s. She was in a hurry, as she had to meet Chloe’s bus. She hurriedly wrote down this website. I am so grateful, as this website is beautiful, what time you parents have taken to make this website, anyone can see what proud parents you are. Your children are your life, we can tell. They will make wonderful adults!* I wish all children had such wonderful parents. You are right, other people are “disabled,” not Chloe. That is the truth, it is a shame, how ignorant OTHER people are, but they are not even worth talking about. We just hope we can educate these other people. Meanwhile, we enjoy people like Chloe, she looks like such a beautiful, priceless, happy, smart young lady!* {The 90% rate is inconceivable and tragic.} I worked with a boy with Down Syndrome for three years. I cannot think of him without getting teary eyed; he is so dear. Sincerely, Kathleen*



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