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An Extra Lucky Sisterhood

By: Jess Quarello

One of the first things I worried about after receiving Adeline's birth diagnosis of down syndrome was, quite shamefully I'll admit, my first born Charlee and how it would affect her.

I have talked a lot about how much I used to day dream about the bond between my two girls during my pregnancy with Adeline. It was a big piece of the mourning process I went through after her birth. I mourned their neuro-typical sister relationship for them, without allowing myself to be curious and open-minded about the future of their relationship.

I grew up in a very close-knit family and my sister is my best friend in the universe. I was so sad for Charlee after Adeline was born and every time I saw her kiss her baby sister, or show her affection, my heart would break. I hope all of you reading this can give me some grace as I know this sounds unbecoming but I will always share my truth on this platform in case and in hopes that someone needs to hear it. The truth is, I was dealing with a surprise diagnosis and trying to wrap my head around what my life would look like as a special needs mom while also wanting so desperately for Charlee to have with Adeline what I have with my sister Britta. The sadness was deep in my chest in those early days, but as Adeline grew and their bond began, the sadness was felt less and less.

Charlee and Adeline have been sisters now for almost 15 months. The transformation during this time has been tremendous all around, but a huge part of the growth I have experienced as Adeline's mother has been watching the relationship that my two girls share.

In my opinion, a diagnosis does not define someone nor does it define the potential within a relationship either. Charlee and Adeline are sisters who love and adore each other just the same as myself and Britta. Their potential to be shaped by their relationship with each other is not less because one of them has a disability.

In a lot of ways, Adeline and Charlee interact in the same ways my sister and I did when we were the same age. They love each other, annoy each other, make each other cry, and my personal favorite GIGGLE!

As their Mother, I still carry fear of the future, but unlike those early days where there was only fear, there is now also hope.

I do still worry that Charlee will be teased because of her sister's diagnosis, but I am hopeful that she will be strong enough to take those experiences head on and defend Adeline in confidence. I am hopeful that despite the tough stuff Charlee may face due to her sister's diagnosis, she will be shaped by it too.

I will never stop advocating for Adeline's needs just as much as I will never stop advocating for Charlee's. I will do what I can to make sure she is seen and heard because she also deserves it. She's an incredible sister and I am excited to see how Adeline's diagnosis will influence her as a human being. I wouldn't change a single thing about the relationship my girls share even though it may look different than what I was hoping for back then. What a difference 15 months can make and what a beautiful life this is!

Jess with her sister Britta and her two daughters, Adeline and Charlee


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