Bilingual is Better

We’re back with Season 2 of MTV Tr3s’s show, Quiero Mi Babya series that reveals the realities of cross-cultural parenting, including language, religion and tradition clashes, in addition to many other issues unique to bi/multicultural families. This season has some new, unique couples we’re going to introduce you to!

Check out this preview of tonight’s episode and then see our interview with the couple, Ceceliz and Juan Fernando, below.

Episode description: “Ceceliz and Juan Fernando were in shock when the doctor told them that their baby was born healthy but with one condition, she had Down Syndrome. That initial shock took a while to overcome, but now that they know exactly what it means they work together on making sure Valentina has everything she needs to have a happy and healthy life.”

SpanglishBaby talks to Ceceliz

SB: Your attitude is so positive. Was there ever a moment of sadness when you found out Valentina had Down’s Syndrome?

Ceceliz: Yes. The beginning was really hard for me, it took me over a month to accept that Valentina has Down’s syndrome, mainly because I was so ignorant about the condition. Nobody told me that a baby with this condition is the biggest gift a human being can receive. That’s why we decided to share our story, so that new parents of a baby with DS know that they are about to experience life in the best possible way.

People with DS are very advanced spiritual beings, and the minute you realize that, you understand it all.

Even though Valentina is a beautiful baby, she has taught me that true beauty lies within; I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. She reminds me through example that by having perseverance I can achieve my goals, and even when it gets tough, she always has a smile on her face – It’s amazing! Most human beings don’t take challenges that way. She keeps us living in the present, without worrying about the future, as it is too uncertain. We treasure every little achievement, because for us it is a big deal, hence, we end up celebrating on a daily basis! She reminds me that we are all unique, and that is precisely what makes us all special. She teaches us more than we will ever teach her.

SB: What is your advice to other parents who face the same challenge if they’re having trouble finding strength to move forward?

Ceceliz: My advice is to let themselves experience all the emotions they’re feeling, don’t try to fight them, they’re natural. When you address and process your emotions (by writing in a journal, therapy, talking to friends, or whatever works for you), you will realize that you are much stronger than you ever thought. Surround yourself with positive people, a good support system is essential. And the most important one: open your heart and quiet your mind, and you will obtain the richest messages from your child through their actions; he/she will teach you the secrets of life, ones that only parents like us are lucky enough to receive, because these incredible beings have chosen us, just us.

SB: Do you feel that the majority of the Latin American population in the United States, particularly native Spanish-speakers, are educated on Down’s Syndrome? If not, what would you like them to know? (Feel free to answer this one in Spanish!)

Ceceliz: Siento que el mundo, en general, todavía tiene mucho que aprender sobre el síndrome de Down, y más allá de eso, de las personas que tienen esta condición. No deja de existir una percepción muy antigua sobre el tema. Ellos no sufren, ni padecen de ningún mal ni enfermedad, estas son palabras comúnmente utilizadas por los mismos medios en la actualidad. Muy lejos de eso, simplemente tienen una condición genética, síndrome de Down. Lo que sí es común en ellos – que no todos los seres humanos tenemos- es amor, sabiduría y alegría innata; a todos nos viene bien una dosis de esas cualidades!

La expectativa de vida para personas con síndrome de Down ha aumentado dramáticamente, de 25 años en 1983 a 60 años hoy en día. Es importante que se sepa que ellos pueden tener grandes logros como sacar una maestría y obtener prestigiosos premios de cine (Pablo Pineda), o ser un director de orquesta (José Dávila), dueño de un restaurante (Tim Harris) o modelo internacional (Valentina!). Con amor, dedicación y estimulación, estos individuos pueden llegar muy lejos!

SpanglishBaby talks to Juan Fernando

SB: At SpanglishBaby.com, we’re a community of parents raising our children bilingually in the United States. I noticed in the video that you guys speak Spanish to Valentina. Do you think that raising her bilingually is going to be more challenging than raising a bilingual child who doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome?

Juan Fernando: Not at all. One of the first thoughts we had when we had Valentina was if she was going to be able to learn more than one language like us. Luckily the first person we met with DS speaks and writes Spanish and English perfectly. We were very encouraged by this but we wanted to hear the news from a professional. When we spoke with Valentina’s genetics doctor she told us “your baby will do whatever you encourage her to do, if you want to and teach her she could be trilingual” – this was music to our ears because it is very important for us that Valentina learns both Spanish and English. We don’t think this will be challenging for us because we have been talking to Valentina in Spanish since she was born, and once she goes to school she will pick up English very fast like many other typical kids. We have to bear in mind that Valentina will achieve whatever she puts her mind to. She already has!

SB: As Valentina grows and gets older, what experiences are you most excited to share with her?

Juan Fernando: Every step with Valentina is exciting! I can’t wait to see when she graduates from middle school, high school and college. Another great experience I want to share with her is traveling; I want her to visit many countries and many cultures since that is something that we enjoy as a family. I look forward to seeing our family grow and her becoming a big sister. I’m sure the enriching experiences we will share as a family will stem from her wisdom, that’s why I treasure every minute with her.

Do you relate to Ceceliz & Juan Fernando’s story? Want to see what happens?

Watch Quiero Mi Baby on MTV’s Tr3s Mondays at at 9pm ET or on Tr3s.com.

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