It’s Down Syndrome Month BABY!

“I would not change one thing about you.”Courtesy of Shannon Striner

What is Down Syndrome?

In every cell in the human body, there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes.  Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes.  Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.

Down Syndrome Adoption:

A Child with down syndrome is a blessing for his or her siblings, not a curse. “I wish I had known that having a child with Down syndrome would make her older sister even more kind and empathetic. Sharing the spotlight has made her happy, not resentful.”
—Shannon Striner

GWCA|CAN has a growing list of children with Down syndrome who are available for adoption—especially in our China Program. Many children around the world have been placed into families as a result of the awareness of the great need for adoptive families willing to make a precious child with Down syndrome part of their family. We want to expand our efforts in advocating for this amazing group of children by sharing just a few of those available on our Photo Listing. We add 5 children to our wait list so be sure to check out our “New Kids on the Block”.

These are just facts, and like all facts, they can fail to provide a full picture. The truth is that children born with Down syndrome can absolutely go on to live happy and long lives. And with Down Syndrome Awareness Month every October, we can be inspired to learn more about this topic and to celebrate people born with Down syndrome and the medical advancements that increasingly improve their quality of life.

When Was Down Syndrome Discovered?

For centuries, people with Down syndrome have been alluded to in art, literature and science. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century, however, that John Langdon Down, an English physician, published an accurate description of a person with Down syndrome. It was this scholarly work, published in 1866, that earned Down the recognition as the “father” of the syndrome. Although other people had previously recognized the characteristics of the syndrome, it was Down who described the condition as a distinct and separate entity.

In recent history, advances in medicine and science have enabled researchers to investigate the characteristics of people with Down syndrome. In 1959, the French physician Jérôme Lejeune identified Down syndrome as a chromosomal condition. Instead of the usual 46 chromosomes present in each cell, Lejeune observed 47 in the cells of individuals with Down syndrome. It was later determined that an extra partial or whole copy of chromosome 21 results in the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. In the year 2000, an international team of scientists successfully identified and catalogued each of the approximately 329 genes on chromosome 21. This accomplishment opened the door to great advances in Down syndrome research.

Are There Different Types of Down Syndrome?


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Down syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division called “nondisjunction.” Nondisjunction results in an embryo with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. Prior to or at conception, a pair of 21st chromosomes in either the sperm or the egg fails to separate. As the embryo develops, the extra chromosome is replicated in every cell of the body. This type of Down syndrome, which accounts for 95% of cases, is called trisomy 21.


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Mosaicism (or mosaic Down syndrome) is diagnosed when there is a mixture of two types of cells, some containing the usual 46 chromosomes and some containing 47. Those cells with 47 chromosomes contain an extra chromosome 21.

Mosaicism is the least common form of Down syndrome and accounts for only about 1% of all cases of Down syndrome. Research has indicated that individuals with mosaic Down syndrome may have fewer characteristics of Down syndrome than those with other types of Down syndrome. However, broad generalizations are not possible due to the wide range of abilities people with Down syndrome possess.


In translocation, which accounts for about 4% of cases of Down syndrome, the total number of chromosomes in the cells remains 46; however, an additional full or partial copy of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome, usually chromosome 14. The presence of the extra full or partial chromosome 21 causes the characteristics of Down syndrome.

How to Observe Down Syndrome Awareness Month

“A different life is not a ‘less than’ life. Difference makes the world a richer place to live.”Courtesy of Jillian Benfield
  1. Join a Buddy Walk: According to the National Down Syndrome Society, the Buddy Walk “has grown to be the world’s largest and most recognizable Down syndrome awareness program with over 250 walks taking place in 50 states and select international countries.”
  2. Volunteer: There are plenty of things you can do during Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but volunteering with one of the many Down syndrome advocacy groups is one of the best and most effective.
  3. Spread the word: The Down Syndrome Information Alliance suggests celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month by carrying out 31 random acts of kindness — one for each day in October.

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China Heritage Tour


We have launched our winter 2019 China Heritage Tour! Over the years, we have been touched by loving families who have adopted children from China. Our China Heritage Tour has received a lot of attention over the years and we are grateful for our families we have previously participated because it has enabled us to gather valuable information.

As life moves on for your adopted child you may find that many of them want to go back to where their life journey began. If your adopted child wants to know more about their roots, culture and to form a better understanding of how their story began than this is the trip for you!

During this exciting 8 day tour you will visit 6 cities and some of China’s greatest national treasures.

  • Cities: Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Yangshuo, and Guangzhou.
  • National Treasures: The Forbidden City, Terra Cotta soldiers, the Great Wall and much more!

This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience Chinese culture and connect your child to their homeland. You may also choose to add an extended tour which includes visiting your child’s orphanage at the end of your trip. 


The experience and resources we have accumulated over the years allows us to offer you an unbeatable price. The cost for our 2019 trip is $2,149/person with a minimum of 3 travelers. We do limit the total number of participants to 20 people and spots fill up quickly! To reserve a spot for your family please submit the $200/person (non-refundable) fee via This fee will go towards the programs total cost. The remainder of the payment must be provided via Cashier Check.

Our price  includes:

  • One standard room with king bed or 2 full sized beds. Extra charge for an additional roll away cot .
  • Daily breakfast at the hotel.
  • Intra-China Airline/Bullet Train transportation fee.
  • Sightseeing admission fees
  • Airport/Train Station pick up service.
  • Ground transportation driver in all cities listed in itinerary.
  • Special cultural shows, tours & amusement
  • Hands-on crafts & Chinese Historical & Cultural Arts
  • Chinese and English bilingual guide.

Our price does NOT include:

  • International airfare to and from China
  • Food and snacks other than daily breakfast and specified meals in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance
  • Obtaining a Passport or Visa (GWCA can assist in securing a temporary visa)
  • Additional side trips in China. Ask your Travel Adviser about additional options available, from cities to tours, that are not listed on our current itinerary.
  • Laundry and room service fees.
  • Orphanage visit fee. You will be responsible for transportation, activities & hotel. Itineraries will depend on your province and orphanage availability.
    (please contact your travel adviser for an estimate and more information)
  • All traveler ’s MUST sign and agree to our Terms and Conditions & our Winter Journey Policy/Waiver. We must receive a copy of both documents with each traveler ’s signature before you are cleared to participate.
  • NOTE:
    • Pricing will change with each travel option available.
    • The pricing listed here is only applicable for this tour.


Day 1

Arrive at the airport in Beijing where you will be welcomed by your bilingual guide and driven to the hotel

Day 2

Morning: Tianan-Men Square & Forbidden City Tour
Afternoon: Visit the Great Wall and Jade Factory Tour (group lunch)
Evening: Peking Roast Duck Dinner

Day 3

Morning: Depart for Chengdu via flight
Afternoon: Meet your local guide at the Chengdu airport and check into the hotel
Enjoy tea at a local park and experience local culture & cuisine.
Evening: Enjoy Sichuan Variety Show! An ancient Chinese dramatic art that is part of the Sichuan opera.

Day 4

Morning: Visit China’s famous Panda Reserve!
Afternoon: Visit the historical and well-preserved Jinli Ancient Street. A unique commercial street decorated in rows of ancient buildings and the perfect place to shop and find local snacks

Day 5

Morning: Depart for Xian via train
Afternoon: Walk or bike the Great Wall before checking into the hotel

Day 6

Morning: Visit the Terra Cotta Museum and a Terra Cotta Figure Making factory
Afternoon: Depart for Guilin via flight and be welcomed by our local guide before checking into the hotel

Day 7

Morning: Enjoy the Li River Cruise to Yangshuo before checking into the hotel
Afternoon: Learn how to cook Chinese cuisine at a local Cooking School
Evening: Enjoy the magical folk tale performance of “Liu Sanjie Impression Show”

Day 8

Morning: Drive to Guilin
Afternoon: Take the train to Guangzhou which concludes your trip

Day 9-12

Optional Extended Tour: Our China Heritage Tour has an additional option for families looking more extensively into their child’s upbringing. This includes a tour of your child’s orphanage, file information, cultural background, DNA testing and other desired information while in country (depending on province & orphanage).

**Please use this plan as a reference as your actual schedule may vary dependent on your families preference & customization.**

Contact Information:
Veronica Quan:

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