Choosing hope: the story of Micah
Micah Perry is sitting on the computer in his parents’ Brewster home sorting and cataloging antique stamps from around the globe. Every now and again he laughs at something his mother is saying about him and the book she wrote about his life.
Micah was born with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder which results in some physical and intellectual difficulties. His parents were told by a middle school teacher not to have high expectations for him.
His mother is Kathleen Perry, a nurse at the Family Birthplace at Cape Cod Hospital for the last 30 years. Perry’s book, “The Story of Micah – a Story of Miracles,” chronicles Micah’s story from his birth until young adulthood. It was just released by WestBow Press.
In a press release, Perry said she wrote the book in order to “bring hope and honesty” to families dealing with similar experiences.
“My hope is to give others the spiritual tools and understandings I cultivated, empowering them to find the strength to move forward and never give up, even in the deepest, darkest valleys of their lives,” she said.
Perry and her husband, Henry, “got all the negatives,” about Micah’s outlook from well-meaning experts and others.
“In middle school we were told he would never read or write,” remembered Perry, with a large smile in her face, as she glances at her focused son working on his stamps.
Micah Defied Predictions
Micah Perry was born in December 21, 1987, a time when there were few resources for parents of children with Down Syndrome.
“I did not know what to do,” said Kathy. She remembers with a certain horror that the clinic where they took their son in Boston, three days after his birth, was called Genetic Defect Center. She emphasizes the word ‘defect.’
But Micah defied all of the dire predictions and his parents’ fears. Now 28, he is thriving. He works with his father, a full-time minister, selling the stamps online.
He also works at Dunkin’ Donuts in South Dennis and is known for his fine taste in clothes.
“He outdresses everyone,” said his mother.
Micah is also an active member of the praise team at the Mid-Cape Worship Center in Dennis, where his father has been a minister for the last 30 years.
At the clinic in Boston, on Christmas Eve 28 years ago, the Perrys were welcomed by the late genetic pioneer Murray Feingold, MD, an expert on the disorder. There was nobody left at the clinic that day, but Dr. Feingold stayed. He wanted to assure the Perrys that everything was going to be all right. ‘It can either destroy you, you can choose hope,” he told the frightened parents. They chose hope and never looked back.
Kathy and Henry stimulated their son all they could. They played music constantly.
New difficulties would arise. Middle school was a hard time and, for three years, they homeschooled Micah. One day Kathy came home feeling discouraged and desperate after a school meeting.
“Don’t worry about me. I love my life” Micah told her.
Then came open heart surgery.
“I witnessed miracles and met wonderful people. It was not the end of the world,” said Kathy.
One day, 18 years after that first encounter with Dr. Feingold, Kathy happened to pick up an off shift and bumped into him in a hallway in maternity unit at Cape Cod Hospital, where he was consulting with a family on a baby girl born with Down syndrome.
“You gave me hope,” she told him.
“I would never forget you,” he replied.
Support Systems Are Crucial
In her book, Kathy emphasizes the importance of a support system for families who have to face bad news about their child.
“Doctors should always have the mother hold the baby when she is to hear (a difficult diagnosis). Because this is the most important information. It will set the foundation,” she said.
Kathy recently gave this advice to a pediatrician in the maternity unit. He tried it for the first time when delivering difficult news to a family. He came back to thank her, saying it had made a difference.
While Micah was in high school, he was voted unanimously as Homecoming King.
As a special treat for their homecoming king, Micah’s schoolmates raised enough money to send him and his parents to Memphis, TN, to visit the home of his idol, Elvis Presley. He visited Graceland with his parents and stayed in the Heartbreak Hotel.
Kathy Perry says she would never change anything about her son’s life.
“I am so thankful for my son,” she said And that is part of the reason she decided to write his story.