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“Adoption will open your heart to new adventures”

Pinkerton family standing outside in snow

If you live in Douglas, Wyoming, chances are good that you’ve met the Pinkertons: Shannon Pinkerton and the five sons she and her husband, Jason, adopted from foster care: Joey, Tracee, Anthony, Julian, and Cameron.

You’re likely to encounter the Pinkertons because they are an active bunch! You might see them shopping at Sam’s Club, eating at one of their favorite restaurants, watching a movie, or attending church on Sunday. If it’s wrestling season, on Saturdays you’ll find most of the Pinkertons at a tournament.

“We’re out there! And we meet with a variety of reactions from people in the community—from smiles to stares,” Shannon said.

People respond to the Pinkertons because four of the boys—all now in their 20s—have Down syndrome. The fifth, Cameron, is developmentally delayed and blind. Shannon and Jason adopted the boys when they were in their teens and tweens.

A family affair

While strangers may think their family is unusual, to Shannon, it makes perfect sense. She grew up with a sister who had Down syndrome, and her mother ran a home for adults with disabilities. Shortly after she and Jason were married, they managed a group home that her aunt owned and took care of eight men who were developmentally delayed.

“I never saw the difference between people with disabilities and so-called normal people. And my children never did either.”

Shannon and Jason had four children by birth before deciding to adopt. Their children are adults now. Their youngest son lives at home and helps with the boys. Two others are licensed to provide respite care when Shannon needs a break.

March is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. It’s held every year on March 21 (3-21) because people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome. On that day, Shannon, Jason, and the boys will be wearing special 3-21 t-shirts that they created and sold to raise awareness.
The boys in the 3-21 t-shirts that they designed and sold to raise awareness of World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. It’s held every year on March 21 (3-21) because people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome.

Special—but not different

Shannon and Jason don’t see their family as being different, and they don’t treat their children differently because of their disabilities.

“We don’t indulge them or treat them like they have special needs. And we don’t let our friends, or their teachers, or other people in the community do that either. The boys have chores and are held to the same standards as you would any child,” Shannon said.

The Pinkerton boys stay busy and engaged with their community because it builds their abilities and confidence and helps to dispel stigmas and stereotypes that people might have about children with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

“One time we sat down in a favorite restaurant, and the couple who had been seated at the next booth over got up and moved! They thought our kids were going to disrupt their dinner. Guess what? By the end of dinner, that couple was so impressed and maybe charmed by the boys that they bought our meal and apologized for their behavior,” Shannon said.

To people who are thinking about adopting a child with Down syndrome or other special needs, Shannon’s advice is simple: “Do it! It’s not always rainbows and ice cream, but adoption will open your heart to new adventures you’d never imagined.”

You can read more about the Pinkerton family on their Facebook page: The Pinkerton Boys Adventures.