Campus Authors: Anita Minor, clinical research coordinator in the Division of Clinical and Translational Research in the Department of Anesthesiology

"Gifts: Monthers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives"

(Woodbine House, 2007)

When Anita Minor discovered she was pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome, she went searching for others like her in the same situation.

Minor was 38 when she became pregnant with her son, now an active 2-and-a half-year old. Her youngest child was 7 years old at the time, and the pregnancy was a shock to Minor and her husband. During an ultrasound, doctors discovered the baby had a hole in his heart. Because of her medical background, Minor thought to herself, “I bet my baby has Down Syndrome.

“My way of coping with things is to do research,” Minor said. “I went online to find pictures of African-American children with Down Syndrome and could only find two. So I started wondering if I was the only one dealing with this.”

Minor got involved with an online support group, and eventually contacted the Down Syndrome Foundation about starting a support group in north St. Louis County for families with children who have Down Syndrome. She said she hoped her presence also would encourage more African-Americans to come forward and participate in the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis.

It was through her involvement with the support group that she was asked to contribute a chapter to the book “Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives.”

The book includes chapters by a diverse group of women who discuss the gifts that their child with Down syndrome has brought into each of their lives. Minor’s chapter, called “Lifting Each Other,” focuses on her need to find other African-American families who had children with Down Syndrome.

“Since I wrote the chapter, I’ve been contacted by women from all over the United States and around the world,” she said. “It was an opportunity to let more people know that others are dealing with this. I had fears about what my child would be like, and to have the brilliant little boy I have now is overwhelming. I wrote it to let others know it’s OK to go through grief and feel angry. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or dad, just that you need to deal with that, move on and learn to handle what’s been thrown your way.”

— Beth Miller