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‘The teacher called home. ‘Vanessa is not paying attention in class.’ I failed every hearing test. ‘What are you saying?!’ I started to think I just wasn’t smart.’: Woman with severe hearing loss receives eye-opening diagnosis after 33 years

“We took my daughter for a routine hearing test. I impatiently asked my husband, ‘What’s taking them so long to start the test?’ His eyes widened. ‘Vanessa, are you kidding me? We’re half way through!’ I couldn’t hear a thing.”

‘Linda, I have news—please sit down.’ The delivery room was hush-hush. ‘She will be a burden to your family.’ Everyone was disgusted I wouldn’t abort her.’: Mom details emotional journey advocating for daughter with Down syndrome

“Our genetics counselor suggested we institutionalize her. The speech therapist said right in front of my 8-year-old daughter, ‘She will likely never have a job. I don’t even think part-time work is in her future.’ Right then is when a fire got lit. We wanted her to have the fullest and most complete life she possibly could.”

‘Is it the right decision?’ They came to take her. I stood, paralyzed, and watched as she disappeared. There was debilitating fear.’: Girl with Down syndrome survives new heart surgery, ‘She’s one of the first to have it’

“I kept taking her picture, scared it could be the last one. I counted every eyelash, perfectly placed on her eyes. She would be the first on the West Coast to have this surgery. I didn’t want to let her go because then the decision would be final.”

‘A middle-aged woman stopped me at the gym. ‘You are so pretty. You could be a model if only you lost weight!’ I’d just lost 140 pounds.’: Woman urges ‘being fat will never take away my self-worth’

“She stopped me as I was leaving the gym. The rage I felt in my teen years surged back right under the surface, and for the rest of the week, I stewed on this backhanded compliment. ‘If I lost weight…’ I had just lost 140 pounds and never felt better.”

‘My parents detonated a bomb inside our tiny, thatched roof hut. I was supposed to die that night.’: Adopted bomb survivor now hopeful paralympic swimmer, ‘I’m so thankful for the opportunities this life has given me’

“A woman with 6 children had a strong feeling a child was missing from their family and they were supposed to adopt. A week later, they were told a horrific story of a baby in Vietnam who had survived a bomb blast. It was as if we had both been waiting for each other thousands of miles apart.”

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