Rory Feek's New Life As Single Parent Of A Special Needs Child

Rory Feek is learning about life from a child with Down syndrome.

Feek, a musician, lost his wife, and other half of the band Joey+Rory, on March 4. Joey's death came after a May, 2014, diagnosis, followed by a long and devastating battle with cervical cancer. Rory is left with their child, a 2-year-old girl named Indiana Boon.

In what came as a complete surprise to the Feeks, baby Indy was born with Down syndrome. TasteofCountry describes the couples' reaction, as told on Rory's blog.
"During the pregnancy, we never did an ultrasound, or saw a doctor, nor would it have made any difference if we had. We trusted that God would give us the baby He wanted us to have … and He has. Out of all the parents in the world, He has chosen us to care for and raise this special gift. The baby is healthy and doing wonderful and Joey and I are loving each and every minute that we have with her. We can't wait to see where this new chapter in our lives leads us and what wonderful story unfolds in the coming years."
The Feeks' very public acceptance of their child's disability set a tremendous example, as so many parents experience a state of initial shock and even depression.As Joey's life began to trail toward its end, she gave the baby an opportunity to bond with her father. NBC News 11 described how Indy's dependence on him began to take form.
"She handed the baby to me, and sat alone in a bed and watched and listened as my relationship with Indy grew … and hers lessoned [sic]."
Feek said that Joey had initially intended to homeschool Indy, but "life has changed that plan."

In Feek's blog, This Life I Live, he described how in January, he and Joey had discussed a preschool for Indy. They selected "High Hopes," in Franklin, Tennessee, about 25 minutes north of their farm.

"Half of the Center is a preschool and the other half is a state-of-the-art therapy center for children with special needs."
Feek said Indy has been enrolled in the school for several days, and really enjoying her time there. He shares plenty of photos of her on his blog, for the thousands of fans following their story.
"Indy has already started physical therapy classes to help her learn to walk and speech therapy to start turning all the words that she can say with her hands into sentences she can say with her mouth. I can hardly imagine how special it will be when the time finally comes that she can walk beside me and talk with me."
The International Down Syndrome Coalition can attest that many parents are overwhelmed at the concept of raising a special needs child, let alone as a single father. Feek will find, for awhile at least, that Indy is pretty much like any other baby. She will smile, play, need hugs, need to be fed, and have her diapers changed.

During these early months of life with Indy, he will have time to grieve for Joey, whose presence is still the primary topic of his blog posts. But Indy's challenges will become more obvious as she grows. Feek should know that he is not alone. The Down syndrome community is tightly woven and teeming with support.

On her blog, Grown Ups and Downs, Mardra Sikora talks about being a parent of a child with an intellectual disability. Her son, Marcus, is now an adult, with a job and a busy social life.

Sikora, co-author of the book, The Parent's Guide To Down Syndrome, said, "Medical advances, early intervention programs, and resources have allowed people with Down syndrome to do more than they ever had before.

"The times I have cried in anger, frustration, hopelessness, have never come from any action or reaction from my son. My son, who has Down syndrome, has lifted me, has healed me, has taught me."
Feek may be reeling from his tremendous loss, but he is perched on the cusp of a great adventure.

[Image via Joe Seer/Shutterstock]