Candace comes from a big family; 11 children to be exact. The youngest child was born with Down syndrome. Candace shares her special relationship with Angelita and how she has impacted her family and life for good.
Sister are Best Friends
Finding Out Your Sister has Down Syndrome
When Candace’s mother was pregnant with Angelita she knew something was different. Candace recalls her mother saying, “I can’t explain it, I just knew something was a little different.” Even though she had a feeling that something was different, Candace’s family didn’t find out Angelita had Down syndrome until she was born.
Upon hearing this news, Candace said, “..my mom always said, ‘She has Down syndrome, but she is still the same and I want you to treat her exactly the same.”
Sticking Out in a Crowd
Candace described her family as being abnormal. Where she grew up, it was common for families who had children with disabilities to hide them. She said, “So, when we would see someone we would be like, ‘Wow! Someone with Down syndrome.’ Because we weren’t used to it.”
When Angelita was born she had some technical dependency. Candace said, “So that was different, going to elementary school and my mom having to drag all of her machines with her because she was on a G-tube and oxygen.”
“Forget You Had Her”
When Angelita was born she was very ill, for the first six months of her life her family didn’t get to see her. Angelita was flown to a different hospital that could better suit her needs. Candace said, “When she was born, the doctors told my mom, ‘Why don’t you just forget you had her?’ That really upset my mom. She said, ‘I’ll forget I met you.’ They gave her my sister wrapped in her own IVs.”
A nurse from the hospital saw that interaction and contacted a different hospital. Candace’s mom and Angelita flew with nothing but the clothes on their back to the hospital and stayed there for six months.
Glass Child Syndrome
Sometimes, when a family has a child with a disability, the needs of the child with the disability are so great that the parents look right through the other child’s needs to take care of the child with the disability.
In reference to the glass child syndrome, Candace said, “..we came from such a big family it was more of a buddy system. We didn’t have my mom being super attentive to come child because she has so many.”
Angelita is a Celebrity
Candace remembered that her friends knew Angelita was a little different. She said, “Mainly because my mom would take us to school and when she would take Angelita out of the car, it was a whole process of taking machines and the oxygen machine on wheels.”
“So, everybody grew to love her, and she just grew into the community. Everybody knew her, all of our neighbors, everybody at church, everybody at school. It was a community around Angelita” Candace said
Candace shared some of the things that make Angelita and her best friends. She said, “I saw she is my best friend; she always tries to sneak away with me when I go home..We’ve been in a Flamenco class together..we hangout, I teach her the sassy comebacks.”
“I hope she comes to live with me. I want her to come live with me..but several siblings are fighting for her.”
“She is Going to be a Chef”
Angelita hasn’t let anything stop her. Candace said, “She is still in school. She is in culinary school..she is going to be a chef.”
Candace ultimately would love for Angelita to finish school and then come live with her as her mom is getting sick. She wants Angelita to have opportunity and resources. Something that Candace now does as a career. She helps families access resources in their community.