News that you’re expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet can be an exciting moment.
But for couple Stuart and Kirsty Baxter it was a time of real anxiety.
They had already lost a baby 19 weeks into pregnancy in 2013 and were understandably worried about their new baby.
Thankfully Kirsty went full term and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy Riley.
He was born without complications but then doctors told the couple he had Down syndrome. The parents worried he would be bullied.
Dad Stuart was concerned that their beautiful bundle of joy would be treated differently.
“After we were told he had Down syndrome I cried, not because I would love him any less, but just knowing how cruel the world can be,” he said.
“That was the first thing that went through my mind but obviously my perceptions were wrong and how wrong I was,” he added.
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As their son grew he brought nothing but joy to his proud parents and all those around him, earning him the nickname: “Smiley Riley.”
“We have called him ‘Smiley Riley’ from a young age because he makes people really happy, and seeing his smile gives people a pick-me-up on a bad day,” Stuart said.
Then he caught the attention of model scouts and landed himself a modeling contract at just 4 years old.
He has already appeared in ads for big UK brand Mothercare and is a huge hit at school with his classmates who treat him like a star.
“There was the fear of the unknown and why this had happened to us, but if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been upset at all,” proud dad Stuart said.
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Although Riley’s muscles aren’t as strong as his friends in the same age, he enjoys doing as much as he can, even going for occasional horseback riding.
Riley may faces challenges, such as communicating in primarily non-verbal ways, but he has adapted quickly thanks to his loving parents.
For example, they taught Riley sign language, and he has excelled at it. His use of sign language has become another way that he connects with other curious kids.
Riley enjoys everything he does and his smile is infectious. He’s such a beautiful boy!
In the case of Smiley Riley, everything turned out better than fine despite the initial worries.
Maybe the world really can move forward and become a better, more accepting, and loving place after all.
Please share to celebrate our differences and encourage others to embrace them just as Riley’s are being embraced, enjoyed and celebrated.