Little Indiana Feek has been the pride and joy of her papa’s life since she made her radiant debut into the world in 2014. With an infectious smile and an endearing propensity for joy, the little 6-year-old princess is hard not to love.
Of course, since the beginning, the Feeks knew they may be facing challenges with Indiana that most parents do not, due to their child’s Down Syndrome diagnosis.
“The books and blogs I first read right after Indy was born and the advice I received all seemed to say ‘this child is going to be completely different’ and ‘set your expectations very, very low’,” said Rory Feek, who is now caring for Indiana as a single parent since Joey’s passing from ovarian cancer in 2016.
They essentially tried to “prepare [them] for a child with a much lower IQ and abilities.”
But they naysayers couldn’t have been more wrong.
“That hasn’t been the case at all. She’s incredibly smart and thoughtful and normal,” said Rory in an interview with Voices for the Voiceless.
He explained that raising Indiana has been much like raising his other daughters, Hopie and Heidi, 25 years ago.
“Other than the fact that her little almond eyes are different and she has small braces inside her shoes, she’s very typical,” he continued. “Probably because we don’t see her as a child with Down syndrome, we just see her as a child.”
Rory credits his late wife for little Indy’s wonderfully healthy development thus far:
“My wife Joey was much smarter than me and she’s the one who put these things in place early on. And I think it’s made all the difference in the world in Indiana’s life so far.”
When asked what he wished other men knew about fathering a child with a disability, Rory’s response couldn’t have been more beautiful:
“I am not sure, because I don’t see myself as a father raising a child with a disability, only a father raising a child. I know that Indy has Down syndrome, but it’s not a thing that is part of our lives, and even more so, a part of hers so far. She has no idea that she has it. She’s just a little girl who loves Cinderella and books and playing ‘babies.’ For me, getting to be a father — not just for one season, but for two — has been the greatest blessing of my life. Life doesn’t truly begin until we give our lives away to another.
“There is no greater joy than fatherhood for me.”