Please enjoy guest blogger and KidsQuest supporter, Mckenzie Vander Hoek.
October is Dwarfism awareness month and I would like to tell you a story about a hilarious, fun-loving, and spunky little girl named Evie, who just happens to have dwarfism.
Our daughter, Evie was born March 9th, 2017, just three days past her due date. She came out healthy as ever as far as the doctors were concerned and we were overjoyed, as all parents are. She was the sweetest, happiest babe and had the most delicious rolls on her arms and legs. It wasn’t until she was 7 weeks old that her pediatrician suspected something “different” about her. She told us that due to Evie’s larger head size and shorter limbs and the fast rate at which she was falling off the typical growth chart, she may have some form of dwarfism. As two very tall people, my husband and I were certain there was a mistake in judgement and went to see 4 different doctors before learning that it was not genetic, but simply a spontaneous mutation at conception that caused Evie to have the most common form of dwarfism.
Achondroplasia. Learn more here.
There it was. An official diagnosis. This news not only shocked us, but immediately catapulted us into a world we never knew existed. Having a child with an unexpected diagnosis takes time to process and come to terms with for many people because you truly must grieve the child you thought you were going to have; this doesn’t make you any less of a person, it makes you human. [So as a side note, if you are reading this and you are struggling after learning of your own child’s diagnosis, know that it is okay to feel this way and you will be fine. In fact, you will be better than fine. It will truly make you a more loving, compassionate, and accepting person and those are wonderful qualities to encompass, especially in this day and age.
Needless to say, the first few months after learning of her condition was an emotional time for us; not so much because of how this was going to impact us as her parents, but because we knew there were challenges that Evie would face as she grows up that we can’t necessarily protect her from. One thing we were certain of right away was that our baby girl was going to do amazing things and there was no doubt that she will make a phenomenal impact on those who cross her path.
Unfortunately, not everyone in this world is kind and the thought of someone hurting our daughter’s feelings because of her size was hard to accept. So we quickly turned our sadness into action and became her biggest advocates by spreading awareness so others could know and love our Evie girl for the awesome human that she is.
Fast forward 2 and half years and we could not imagine a life any different for our family. Evie is a social butterfly, with a side of toddler attitude and a personality to boot! She says hi to every stranger she comes across and walks with such authority and confidence there is no doubt she is going to conquer the world.
One of our biggest messages as parents that Evie has taught us is to look past differences and accept people for who they are. We all have something different about us as humans. It’s what makes the world such a fascinating place. We want the world to learn how to not only accept differences in others, but to also embrace them and celebrate them with joy and love. After Evie came along this became my passion and now I choose to educate and advocate at any chance I get. So here’s my best piece of advice and biggest hope for future generations to implement when they see someone who is different:
JUST SAY HI.
When you encounter anyone with a difference or someone who is differently-abled, please don’t stare, don’t point, don’t laugh. Don’t take pictures. If your child shows curiosity, don’t shush or scurry them away in an embarrassed panic. That teaches them there is something wrong with being different. And we all know that’s just not the case. We’re all just curious. So why not fulfill that curiosity by saying hello and maybe even asking questions. I know for our family there is no question off limits. As long as you are kind and well-meaning, everyone can benefit.
“In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND”
Mckenzie Vander Hoek