I don't have a child with Downs, and I dont have a family member with it, but I did work with a student who had Downs - I'm planning on going into the field of Special Education. He would have turned 17 this past January... 3 days before his 16th birthday he died, and it was a terrible blow for all of us that had worked with him. He may not have been able to communicate with his teachers and family in the "normal" way, but he had the amazing ability to cheer any of us up regardless of what was going on. Your children may not be considered "normal" by societys standards, but the joy and happiness they bring to the lives of everyone around them make me wonder who decided what was "normal". Fight for your children, because they deserve everything that this world has to offer them. If it wasn't for my student I would have spent the majority of my high school experience in a depression. But the things I got to do with him - the field trips we went on, watching him progress in ways only a few years ago doctors and teachers would have said was impossible - those moments warmed my heart. The look on his face when he discovered he could do something new was amazing, and made every single teacher in that room look at life a little differently. His laugh was contagious, and his love and admiration for the Red Sox was inspiring (he believed in them when no one else did
). He was a student, a peer, a friend, but he was also a teacher for me, and seeing his struggle helped me commit more solidly in my dream to be a special educator.
I actually remember reading some where or other that historically, going way back to ancient times, those individuals who had DS or what we would today call mental illness were considered special, not so much because they were "different", but because it was believed that they had special contact with the gods, the forces of good and evil and the powers that rule our lives.
I suppose if anyone ever disapproved of your children, you could tell that person that your family was just a little closer to the Powers that be.
Good luck to you all. Don't let anyone or anything stand in the way of your child, or in the path of your happiness.