Gracie Hermreck and her family adopted a child with down syndrome who changed her life for the better. Her favorite part about herself is her quirkiness and how unapologetically herself she is.
“I don’t care [about what people think of me], because in twenty years, nobody is going to remember what you did. It’s not going to affect if you’re going to have a high paying job or not. It doesn’t matter,” Hermreck says.
She loves how genuine her confidence is, because it is a rarity in high school.
“I think I’m very comfortable with myself, which is so great because all the other hard stuff high schoolers deal with, about finding yourself, just comes naturally to me,” Hermreck says.
Hermreck has learned to love herself for who she is, and accept her flaws. She wouldn’t change anything about herself because she believes she was made this way for a reason. Her empathy and confidence can, however, get in her way.
“I one up people all the time, not to out to do them, but to try to relate. I end up over relating with them instead. I also always put in my two-cents, when I think, looking back, I should’ve just been quiet.” Hermreck says.
One of the most impactful life events that Hermreck has encountered is adopting her two-year old brother, Ryder. Hermreck’s family had heard about adoption, and the idea of expanding their family had been planted in their heads and encouraged by their church. Her mother, Betsy had been researching adoption and had also heard of the positive atmospheres children with down syndrome can add to a family. Then she found Ryder.
“It was an instant connection,” Hermreck says. “We kept getting signs from God and other people in our lives that adoption was the way to go.”
One of the deciding factors was that the family wanted to help a child like Ryder out of a bad situation. Children with down syndrome in China are not treated near the same as they are in the United States. They are seen as ‘sick’ and are alienated instead of accepted. After Hermreck’s family had been discussing what they had learned about down syndrome, Hemreck began volunteering at a Down-Syndrome Clinic over the summer.
“I think it’s made me a better person. It really opens your eyes to that kind of stuff, like how people are being treated in other countries versus America,” Hermreck says.
Ryder has around three doctor appointments a week: occupational therapy, physical therapy, musical therapy, speech therapy, and health appointments. Hermreck wants to be an Occupational Therapist for children with Down-Syndrome when she gets older. Before Ryder, she had the desire to be an Occupational Therapist, but not the specificity of working with Down-Syndrome.
“I’ve learned so much from him already. He doesn’t talk right now, so I’m learning how to communicate without speech.” Hermreck says.