Down Syndrome Awareness: Happy Birthday, Natalie!

Wishing a happy first birthday to Natalie Sileo, who has Down syndrome. Nat is the daughter of Stream Contributing senior editor Tom Sileo.

Natalie Sileo, who has Down syndrome, celebrates her first birthday on February 4, 2021, at her family's home in Florida.

By Tom Sileo Published on February 4, 2021

One year ago today, my family joined America’s extraordinary Down syndrome community. My wife and I were confused and scared, but determined to work hard to give Natalie the best possible life.

On February 4, 2021, Natalie celebrated her first birthday. As I sit here thinking about all that’s happened since we found out our youngest daughter has Down syndrome, I find myself returning to the words of James Robison, founder and publisher of The Stream.

As my wife and I spoke to James and his wonderful wife at one of our most uncertain moments, James and Betty told us that our daughter would be a gift from God. James also told us that “there’s a reason He has chosen you to raise this precious child.”

Down Syndrome - Natalie

Natalie Sileo, who has Down syndrome, with her favorite Jesus doll.

While the journey hasn’t been easy, we have been blessed by Natalie’s good health and infectious smile. We are also grateful for the support of incredible people like James and Betty, as well as our priests, doctors and the talented therapists here in Florida who generously help Natalie and so many other children with special needs.

We are also grateful to everyone who reached out to wish Natalie a happy first birthday, including the National Down Syndrome Society and the Special Olympics.

We also want to thank my hometown Washington Nationals, whose unlikely 2019 World Series championship run helped inspire baby Nat’s name.

What have we learned over the past year? To be more patient (my wife’s biggest asset and my biggest challenge), to trust in God and to remember that so many other families have it harder than us. We constantly think about the parents of children with special needs, including some we know, whose beautiful children were born with heart problems, which is common in cases of Trisomy 21. The Sileo family is always praying for you.

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As our journey continues, I hope sharing both Natalie’s successes and setbacks will inspire other parents who receive the shocking news my wife and I will never forget. Most of all, I hope her smile warms your heart as much as it does ours. Happy birthday, Natalie, and may God bless all children with Down syndrome and special needs.


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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