Marta Avina was 5 months pregnant when she found out her unborn son had Down Syndrome. After delivering the traumatic news, a doctor at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Concord told the couple he could help them terminate the pregnancy.
Dazed, Marta said “yes.” Luis said “no.”
“It was like a slap in the face,” Luis Avina said, tearing up. “But I said, we’re going to continue with this. This is our baby, we love him and we’re going to do whatever it takes.”
On a recent Saturday morning, the couple and their 6-month-old son, Angel, joined other parents of babies and toddlers with the chromosomal disorder at a music therapy group in Danville. The gathering was organized by the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area, a nonprofit started in 1998 to provide services and support people who have Down Syndrome, along with their families.
At the class taught by music therapist Nicole Patton, the children and their parents sang songs, shook maracas, rang bells and played games.
Angel snoozed through it on his mother’s lap. Even though he was too young to participate, his parents said they were comforted by the presence of others who understand the challenges of raising a child with Down Syndrome.
“I can see now that we’re not the only ones and it really helps,” Luis Avina said.