Mulligan Stew: Their friendship has gone ‘Down’ an amazing path

When my daughter Kelli was born with Down syndrome in 1988, the little girl next door, Kristi, fell completely in love with her. Kristi helped Kelli learn to crawl, walk, talk and to be ready for life. Although seven years separated them, the two girls were inseparable sisters.  Both call me “mom.”

Kristi always said Kelli was the first person she fell in love with. She also always said she would name her children after my Kelli, whose whole name is Kelli Joe Ann Jones.

Sure enough, when Kristi had her first child, she named her Kelli. And she didn’t stop there. 

When she had her first son, he was named Joe. Kristi’s second daughter is Brittany Ann. And then, after a divorce and remarriage, Kristi’s fourth child was born with the last name Jones. The coincidence of A.J.’s last name being Jones was one of the greatest things to ever happen, it completed the full circle. We thought nothing could top that.

A young Kelli is pictured with her mother, Linda.

Until now. Kristi is giving birth to her fifth child in August. Incredibly, and almost impossible to reasonable logic, this baby boy has been diagnosed, prenatally, with Down syndrome!

It’s as close to a miracle as we can imagine.

His birth will be celebrated and he will be loved by all of us, particularly his aunt Kelli, who lives in Indiana. Kristi moved to Missouri a couple of years ago, but I am hoping she names him “Indiana Jones.” I think the baby will grow up, loving that tough name.

When Baby Boy Jones is born, he will require an immediate surgery to remove a blockage in his throat that will prevent him from swallowing. Doctors say it’s an easy surgery, so we’re all hopeful.

Kristi has not had an easy life. She has a learning disability and dealt with abandonment issues throughout her life. Although she took four attempts to get a driver’s license, she never gave up. Likewise, she never considered aborting any of her pregnancies, loves all of her children, and tries repeatedly to get ahead, never giving up.

She works hard for a living and this baby is going to give her a whole set of new challenges. Although she was shocked initially with his Down syndrome diagnosis, Kristi said she believes it’s all a part of God’s plan. He put her with our family to train her for the day she will have her own baby with Down syndrome.

I’ve decided to attach a fundraiser for her and little Indy.  Although it may say that it will benefit me, I will be forwarding everything to Kristi for her baby.

The children’s hospital is a two-hour drive from Kristi’s home and she will be off work for the special needs associated with his delivery and birth. At the same time, she will need to be returning home most evenings because A.J. is starting kindergarten at the same time. She will need a lot of expensive gas for her car, and if there is any left-over money, she will look for a larger home, or just to help with everyday bills to come.

Thank you!

Indiana Jones and the Down Syndrome Crusade, organized by Linda Mullen Clevenger