Has your life been touched by knowing a child or adult with Down syndrome? We have three beautiful children with Down syndrome who joined our family through adoption, ages 8, 5 and 4. They have a range of developmental disabilities and medical challenges, from fairly mild to very severe, and each one has a smile so warm it could melt any heart! Our children have taught us so much about patience, courage, kindness, hard work, perseverance, and simple faith. Perhaps that's why I was so touched by the book I Just Am by Bryan and Tom Lambke. Bryan is a 23-year-old young man who also happens to have Down syndrome, and Tom is his very proud father. The book begins with some interesting introductory information from the family. Then there is an introduction by Cheryl Rogers Barnett, daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and sister to a beautiful little girl with Down syndrome who died before she reached her second birthday. There are also several wonderful short guides to understanding Down syndrome in the back of the book.
Bryan's story unfolds through wonderful pictures of his life with captions that are often humorous or even profound. What better way to show the real day-to-day life of an adult with Down syndrome than through pictures? Sometimes the message that individuals with disabilities can lead very normal and fulfilling lives falls on deaf ears, but seeing this wonderful young man in action leaves little doubt about the joy he experiences and shares. Bryan works two jobs, is active in sports and various hobbies, and has friends and family that he loves and who obviously love him deeply. He talks frequently about "normal," asking what is normal and showing many ways he is just like his peers as well as ways that he is different. For example, he says, "I like nachos. I love pizza. I don't like veggies. Seems normal." About his bedroom he states, "I have my own bedroom. Sometimes it is a mess. I try to keep it clean. That is normal." About honesty, Bryan says, "I don't lie. I don't cheat. I don't steal. Now that's not normal."
Perhaps my favorite caption is with a picture of Bryan singing: "I like to sing. Maybe not in key." Many of us hold back our voices because we worry about singing in key. What would this amazing world be like if we all had the courage, like Bryan, to sing with our whole hearts, whether or not we are in key! Bryan, your life and your beautiful book are inspirations to my sweet family and me!