A Letter on Father’s Day…

Dear Dad

Will we be this happy forever? 

Will you always let me open mouth kiss your face when you get home? 

Will you always introduce me with a big smile to everyone you meet? 

Will you always laugh with me as you bend my extra bendy legs when I have a dirty diaper?

Will you always hold me extra tight when we swim at the loud pool?

Will you always eat with me, even if I never want to use that fork?

Will you always scoop me up for big hugs at night time, even when I don’t feel like walking?

Will you always let me turn the pages in books? I’m such a good page-turner!

Will you always listen to my loud stories, even if you’re not sure what they’re about?

Will you always tell me how handsome I am? Especially when we comb my hair! 

Will you always tell me I can do anything I want to? Even if you need to help me?

Will we stay best friends forever? 

Let me know – love you, Levi. 


Dear Levi

Yes, forever. 

Thank you for choosing me. 

Love, Dad. 


Dear Reader,

I recently heard that “being different is a good thing” and for the Dads out there who have a kid with an extra 21st chromosome and have found themselves on a completely different parenthood journey than they expected they’d be on, I extend an extra Happy Father’s Day! 

When my wife, Kara and I found out we were expecting our first child, our incredible family and community showed up with balloons, cards and gifts, advice and love. We enjoyed every minute as we shared the news of a baby on the way. It was incredible. 

10-weeks into Kara’s pregnancy, we got a call that there was a chance our baby could have Trisomy-21 and we’d need to come in for some additional appointments and meet with a geneticist. That geneticist shared that we are to continue to come in for additional appointments and testing throughout the rest of Kara’s pregnancy, but we would not receive a confirmed diagnosis until the baby boy was born. 

Each week and appointment went by with increased excitement, worry, questions, joy, nervousness and hope. We had not planned on having a child with Down syndrome and had no idea what that might look like.

Then, on December 18th, 2022, we became parents! I became a Dad. Levi’s Dad! The one who “wrote” the letter above. 

When Levi entered the world with a few small but noticeable physical features of Down syndrome on his perfect 9lb 3oz frame, I felt a small shift in the air as our loud and excited nurses quieted down and seemed to look to Kara and I for our reaction. We were glowing with love as Kara reached for Levi while screaming, “you’re perfect!” as she pulled him to her chest for the first time. Not only a proud Dad but also a proud husband. 

A few days later, as we healed, processed, and settled into the NICU, Levi’s doctor confirmed his Trisomy-21 diagnosis. Another silence found its way into our curtained-off section of the NICU. A silence many of you may know all too well. 

“You mean, it’s official? He chose us?” I responded with a smile. 

If this is your first Father’s Day or 100th Father’s Day, congratulations on being chosen to do this work. We hear from doctors that Down syndrome is a random occurrence of genetic mutations. If you have a child with Down syndrome, you probably already know that this isn’t true. It wasn’t random.

You’ve seen the reason that you were meant to be a champion of this community. You’ve seen the reason that your child was specifically meant for you.   

Remember to listen, laugh, ask questions, celebrate, and share your wisdom every day, but especially today. Tell the world about the joys of having a child with Down syndrome. Tell the world why they matter. Tell them why they matter!  

Now, we must show the world that we value inclusivity, kindness, second chances, acceptance, and unconditional love. 

Now, we must work harder than cards and balloons to help educate the hospitals, parents, and our communities that our kids are worthy, smart, and an absolute gift. 

Now, we must support this beautiful, diverse, and powerful community we didn’t plan on becoming a part of. A community that is perfect, unique, curious, and celebrated. 

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. You are celebrated. 

– Jacob Esser, Levi’s Dad

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