A Minnesota-based nonprofit organization called Jack’s Basket has made it its mission to promote the value of the lives of infants born with Down syndrome and to celebrate them. Jack’s Basket – founded and run by Chris and Carissa Carroll – has been operating since 2014. The Carrolls are parents to Jack who was born with Down syndrome in 2013.

The Carrolls’ experience with the medical staff, who delivered him by way of an emergency C-section, was a difficult one. According to Chris Carroll’s testimony, he was given the news of his newborn son’s diagnosis in an unexpected way. 

Chris was completely unprepared for the words a nurse practitioner spoke when she and a nurse brought Jack to him while Carissa recovered in the operating room after the delivery. The nurse practitioner asked, “Are you aware of Trisomy 21?” Seeing Chris’s confused look, she went on, “Were you aware that he could have Down syndrome? We think he does, but we’re still running tests.” With that, she left Chris to his surprise, confusion, and grief.

Carissa’s experience was similar. Her husband was not allowed in the operating room, and it was he who explained the diagnoses when he introduced their son to her. Carissa had not been allowed to see Jack after delivery.

After the challenging experience of the birth of their son, the Carrolls determined that they would celebrate his life and the lives of other children born with Down syndrome. Upon Jack’s first birthday, they prepared and delivered baskets to families who had welcomed babies with Down syndrome at the hospital where he was born. The idea behind the baskets was to show such families that it is appropriate and right to be happy about their new children’s births.

The Carrolls wish everyone understood that “[e]very child should be celebrated. Every family should be congratulated.” To that end, on Jack’s first birthday, they hand-delivered two baskets to the hospital where he was born, asking staff to present them to other moms who welcomed children with Down syndrome. The baskets contained a letter from Carissa sharing things she’d learned in Jack’s first year of life.

Today, Jack’s Basket delivers baskets all over the United States and overseas. The organization is also dedicated to helping medical providers communicate and discuss Down syndrome ‘accurately and without bias,’ and to changing attitudes toward Down syndrome by sharing stories like Jack’s. 

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