Murray parents of three children with Down syndrome named Parents of the YearApr 19, 2021 10:27AM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Kris and Kecia Cox with their children Kyrie, Noah, Adrie, Bree, Claire, Mia, and Livvy after being announced as the Utah Council for Exceptional Children’s Parents of the Year. (Photo courtesy of Murray School District)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
With three children with Down syndrome, Kris and Kecia Cox know firsthand what’s involved with having a child with special needs. Yet, they find time to advocate and even reach out to other families, letting them know that they are capable of anything. This advocacy has earned the Coxes recognition as Parents of the Year from the Utah Council for Exceptional Children (UCEC).
Other families of children with exceptionalities have found comfort in Kecia’s counsel to them.
“Let your child teach you what they were born to teach you. They will teach you about quiet corners of your heart you have never visited before. Appreciate every victory because even the small ones are huge,” Kecia said.
Kris and Kecia met at the College of Idaho, married, and moved to Murray 18 years ago. They had two daughters Kyrie and Adrie.
“When our third daughter Bree was born, she surprised us all with a little something extra; she was born with Down syndrome,” Kecia said. “Before Bree, neither of us knew much about Down syndrome, so we had no idea what this diagnosis would mean for our daughter or our family. We were very much scared of the unknowns. But we quickly learned that Bree would bring a light and a joy to our family that only she could have brought, a light and joy that we all very much needed.”
After Bree, the Cox’s tried to grow their family again but were met with struggles to get pregnant again and then multiple miscarriages. While grieving their last miscarriage, they came upon a picture on the internet someone had shared of a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome living in an orphanage in Ukraine. This little girl was about to age out of the baby orphanage and be transferred to an adult mental institution if a family didn’t come for her.
“When I saw her eyes staring back at me through the computer screen, I knew we were supposed to go get her, they were the saddest eyes I had ever seen, and it was as if they were saying ‘you are my mom,’” Kecia said.
Within months, the Coxes had filed adoption papers in Ukraine to bring Mia home with them. Within a few weeks of Mia arriving in Murray, Kecia discovered she was pregnant—with twins.
The twins had a rare condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and would need a lifesaving in utero surgery at 20 weeks gestation. Kecia was then put on bed rest for five months until they were born safely at term.
After that traumatic pregnancy and meeting the demands of a family of six, the Coxes didn’t quite feel their family was complete, and the thought of other children with Down syndrome waiting to be adopted haunted them.
“Although leaving Mia’s orphanage, it was unbearably hard to know, so many others were there waiting for a family, we never planned on adoption again. But then, in 2015, I started having feelings pushing me towards it all again. And, as hard as we tried not to take that path again, we knew when we found Noah that he was meant to be in our family,” Kecia said.
They adopted Noah from an orphanage in Ukraine in 2016 when he was 11 months old. While raising special needs children consumes a lot of time, Kecia cites other issues as a more significant challenge.
“The harder part is the fight to make others see the worth they have and to find ways to include them in the community and with their peers,” Kecia said.
The Coxes were nominated for Parents of the Year by their daughter’s special education and paraeducators. The UCEC is a network of Utah professionals, families, and community members dedicated to advancing children and youth’s welfare and education with exceptionalities through professional development, political advocacy and collaboration.
Even without the recognition, the Coxes have found rewards along the journey.
“Learning to stretch ourselves and grow in ways we never thought possible. Seeing the pure love and pure joy our kids with special needs bring to not only our home but to anyone who lets them love them,” Kecia said.