Chris and Jill met on a blind date then married 5 years ago on New Years Eve and now have two beautiful girls.
When Jill was pregnant with their oldest daughter in the Fall of 2008, they learned that their baby might have Down Syndrome. The doctor was tickled, and outwardly expressed so, when they said they didn’t need an amniocentesis to confirm, nor any discussion of their “options,” because they were having a baby, not a diagnosis.
You see, Jill and Chris had an advantage… Jill’s sister, Lisa, was born with arthrogryposis 43 years earlier, and Jill’s brother-in-law, Joe, was in an accident with a drunk driver as a young man, suffering a head injury and leaving him with some intellectual challenges. All of this helped Jill and Chris to know that Down Syndrome was hardly an insurmountable issue. A year later, after a scary, yet amazing year in which their 2 month old had open heart surgery to repair 3 holes in her heart and then started developing through therapies and their determined focus, the Reffett’s brought home their second daughter. The two girls, just 13 months apart, have grown, pushed, and challenged each other while being fun, fast friends.
After her oldest daughter was born, Jill changed her career path to help as many people with intellectual disabilities as possible to find their own ability to do anything they set their hearts on. Chris, quietly strong, shifted his already focused educational passion to helping those kiddos and families who are trying to navigate the special education system. Chris is a principal and special education coordinator in a small, rural school district and Jill is an area director for Special Olympics Illinois.
Shortly after having their oldest daughter, a friend shared the Reece’s Rainbow site with Jill and the couple began to discuss their plan for “someday”… then, Tabitha’s story impacted them and their journey began to bring Tabitha home. This little girl who looked so much like their biological daughters called to them… it could have been their daughter that was in an orphanage just because she had Down Syndrome, and so they decided that, well, yes she is going to be their daughter! For now, they are on-hold with little Miss Tabitha, until things change in her country. THEY ARE NOT GIVING UP ON TABITHA, just adding to the loving home she will be a part of when she can come home to them.
The journey to bring Tabitha home has strengthened the Reffett’s conviction, as well as that of their extended family and friends, that no child should be left without a home or without love. This conviction has led the Reffetts to work to bring home another little one, little Miss Shelley. Little miss Shelley, this beautiful little 2 yr old, needs and deserves to be loved and cared for by a family that is ecstatic for her to join them soon. . What started as a journey to save one child just got a whole lot bigger!!
The Reffett’s greatest joy is experiencing all that every child CAN do… the hardest part of this journey is knowing just how many kiddos need a family to love them and to help them grow into a productive member of our society. But, they hope that sharing their journey will show other families that they too can do this…
Please help Jill and Chris bring home little Miss Shelley, they can’t do it alone.
3/7/13—HOMESTUDY in PROGRESS
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at justclimbingdown.blogspot.com