A parent of a child with a disability gets used to looks. They get used to comments and stares. They get used to strangers speaking their mind.
So when Pam De Almeida sat with her 18-month-old daughter Sophia at her local coffee shop she wasn’t surprised to be started at.
In a Facebook post that has now been read by more than one million people she writes how for some reason that day the staring bothered her.
Pam, a photographer in Ontario Canada writes:
“Two ladies sitting near us started to stare and whisper. This is a pretty frequent occurrence for us you see; because my daughter Sophia was born with Down Syndrome. I sat there and watched these two women crane their necks to get a better look at her; completely oblivious to the fact that I was staring right back. Today it bothered me. It really bothered me.”
She thought the man was coming over to stare at her daughter. Via Facebook/ Slice of Life.
The mother of two girls, who blogs about her daughters at Slice of Life wrote that when the women moved on she was frustrated that a man and another woman then began to approach her.
“I thought, “Oh great! More people who want to take a closer look!”
She says she was taken aback by the man who instead of smiling compassionately or saying something inappropriate greeted her daughter with a “high five and a handshake.”
Her daughter smiled and waved back.
Pam and Sophia. Via Facebook/ Slice of Life.
She writes: “He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I have a story I would really like to share with you. But I am afraid I wont get through it without choking up.” I gently encouraged him to share, because now I was curious. This interaction was not what I was expecting.”
She goes on: “He told me that he had watched the news last night. There was an interview of a mother who had recently given birth to a child with a major disability. She was on the news defending her decision to keep her baby.”
The story the man was referring to was a recent viral post by a mother who had criticized her doctor for advising her to abort this mother’s unborn baby after she discovered that her baby had Down Syndrome. The mother appeared on several US news shows explaining that she felt like when she was pregnant she was never given a chance to appreciate the potential her baby had.
Pam and her family . Via Facebook.
Pam said that the man at the side of her table told her it has shown him “The point is, you never know a persons impact on the world. You can never know what a person is able to do unless you give them a chance.” He looked at me just before he turned to walk away and said, “You are a beautiful person. Your daughter is beautiful. Congratulations!”
“I immediately started to cry,” she writes.
“There I sat in the middle of a coffee shop crying into a paper napkin. That man was the first complete stranger to ever congratulate me on the birth of my daughter Sophia. He was the first complete stranger to recognize her WORTH. Her VALUE. Her BEAUTY.”
“In a world where my daughter’s life is whispered about, where she is stared at, this man saw her IMPORTANCE.”
The young mum’s followed up her post by sharing a second picture of her delightful daughter saying
“Over 1 MILLION Views on my story below. Sophia is so happy about all the amazing and supportive comments made. it's totally making our week!!!!!”
Sophia is thrilled with the positive comments. Via Facebook/ Slice of Life.
Good for you Sophia. May you live a life filled with amazing comments and generous support.