Sofia Sanchez has become a successful spokesperson for others with Down syndrome.

Sofia Sanchez had a rough start in life. Born in Ukraine with Down syndrome, her parents abandoned her at birth. But a photo of the adorable baby found its way to one couple in the United States, and before long, she found a loving family and her voice.

How One Baby Was Adopted by Two Loving Parents

a baby
Instagram/Jennifer Sanchez

Years ago, Jennifer and Hector Sanchez were scrolling through a website called Reece’s Rainbow. The organization advocates and finds families for orphans internationally with Down syndrome and other special needs. When the couple came across a photo of baby Sofia, they stopped.

The parents already had three boys, one with Down syndrome. They wanted to add to their family and thought they could use their experience raising one child with special needs to help another.

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“She was abandoned at birth,” Sanchez told Today. “We felt that since we were already taking the journey of raising a child with Down syndrome, why not adopt another and provide a loving home for Sofia and also give Joaquin a sibling just like him?”

“This was the photo that caught our eye one December day,” Jennifer shared on Instagram. “The photo that sparked it all. The photo that planted a seed. A seed that grew and eventually blossomed into the adoption of Sofia and adding her to our mix of busy boys and completing our family.”

Sofia met her new family in 2010 and they’ve been growing up together ever since.

How One Girl Found Her Voice

girl with down syndrome
Instagram/Jennifer Sanchez

As a mother to two children with special needs, Jennifer began using her social media platforms to raise awareness and share her experiences. Before long, her kids started speaking up for themselves, too. Sofia, in particular, became a strong advocate and even began appearing in ads as a model.

In 2016 Sofia got what many consider her big break, when a video her mom posted went viral. In it, Jennifer asked her daughter whether her condition is scary.

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“No, it’s not scary. It’s so exciting!” she said in the clip.

“This year, I thought maybe it’s time people hear from my kids, not me. What better person to bring about awareness than someone who has Down syndrome?” Sanchez explained to Today.

“Sofia’s joy is contagious … I think besides being adorable and just a ray of sunshine for others to share in, she is the voice of those with Down syndrome,” she added. “She shows the world that she is confident, happy, capable and that really there is just nothing to be afraid of when it comes to Down syndrome.”

How One Girl Is Dispelling Stigmas Associated With Down Syndrome

Today, Sofia has dispelled many stigmas associated with Down syndrome and has become a recognizable face of awareness and change. In addition to appearing in many national advertising campaigns and commercials, she starred in the former series Switched At Birth and the 2022 film, For Paloma.

Later this year, Sofia’s fans can catch her alongside Hunter Schafer, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Rachel Zegler in the Hunger Games prequel,The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.  

Add in the fact that Sofia was the inspiration for two published Scholastic books, You Are Enough andYou Are Loved, and it’s safe to say this little girl is taking the world by storm.

“If Sofia does not continue to share her message, then people won’t be exposed to the beauty of imperfection or disabilities or Down syndrome,” Jennifer later said in an interview with Risen Magazine. “I feel like her mission is to touch people and to change the world.”

The Importance of Ditching Preconceived Notions

Sofia has come so far in her short life and proved so many people wrong, but she’s not the only person working against preconceived notions and stereotypes.

Her story is a solid reminder to all of us to never judge a book by its cover and to remember that it’s always best to educate yourself when you’re unsure about a situation.

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There are plenty of resources to help separate Down syndrome misconceptions from reality, for example. But treating everyone with respect and kindness is always a good start in any situation, as is asking questions when appropriate and practicing active listening.

Some people are dealt different hands in life. But, as Sofia proves, sometimes those are the people that overcome and inspire the most. A strong family and support system like the one Sofia’s got can go a long way, reminding us all that at the end of the day, what matters most is love.

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