What These Moms Learned From Their Daughters With Down Syndrome Will Move You to Tears

Stephanie Mullowney, a photographer from Nashville, has a passion for raising awareness about Down syndrome. Her breathtaking photos of children with special needs were inspired by her own motherhood journey.

"I never knew what true unconditional love was until my daughter Hannah Grace was born," she said. "I didn't know she had Down syndrome until they laid her on my chest and she looked up at me with those beautiful almond-shaped eyes. In that very moment, I knew my life would forever be changed."

Stephanie explained that although she dealt with her fair share of naysayers when Hannah Grace was born, she knew that her daughter was special.

"Despite all of the negativity that surrounded her diagnosis at birth, I knew I had been given an extraordinary gift and purpose, and I knew she would teach me so much more than I would ever be able to teach her. I knew I was holding a miracle and that I need her just as much as she needed me."

As far as what Stephanie's learned about life since having Hannah Grace? More than she ever imagined.

"I knew she would teach me so much more than I would ever be able to teach her."

"Hannah Grace has taught me how to fight for her and others like her, how to truly love unconditionally, and how to embrace the differences in all abilities and see their beauty and purpose."

She also believes that having a daughter with special needs has made her a better person through and through.

"Because of Hannah, my faith in the Lord has grown and my judgments have shrunk. I now have a true purpose and mission in life by using the platform of photography to advocate for all types of different abilities."

Like Stephanie, the mothers of the girls she photographed have similar stories of gratitude, love, and transformation. These moms shared the biggest lessons they've learned from their daughters.

Paperdolls Photography

"The greatest reward in our journey with Tori has been unconditional love, growing our faith instead of being fearful of the unknown, developing great patience, and seeing the beauty in all people."


Paperdolls Photography

"Clara has taught me to step back from the drama in the world and see the world through her eyes. Despite the ugliness in the media, there is a profound beauty around us that I didn't take the time to enjoy prior to having her in my life. I'm still wondering what I did to receive such a blessing."

— Julie

Paperdolls Photography

"Annabel has taught me to never underestimate or preconceive anyone's capabilities, including my own!"

— Ann-Marie

Paperdolls Photography

"Dawn has taught me to slow down and rejoice in the small things and to take pleasure and pride in all accomplishments. She had shown me how important it is to love without judgment and share the joy that life truly brings when you let it."

— Faithe

Paperdolls Photography

"Raising a child with Down syndrome has made my life richer, helped me gain a community of support and love, and has encouraged me to think harder about the future."

— Vivian

Paperdolls Photography

"The most rewarding part of raising my daughter is how she's changed my heart, my mission in life, and love for others. She teaches me daily to appreciate the world through her eyes and how to love and appreciate the beauty in all abilities because there is beauty in every heart God creates. And he doesn't make mistakes. God didn't say 'Oops, how did that extra chromosome get there?' after she was born. No, instead he said: 'You are fearfully and wonderfully made.' Hannah Grace loves with her entire being and I could not be more proud to be the mommy of such an amazing little girl."

— Stephanie