A Couple Adopts 6 Boys With Down Syndrome Who Were Abandoned by Their Birth Parents
The importance of family for every child was a valuable lesson that Shannon Pinkerton learned from her parents, who ran a group home for children with special needs. Now, as an adult, she’s following her parent’s path and built her own family with kids she says “no one wanted.”
When it all started.
It all began with Joey, their first adoption, back in 2009. Their youngest biological son, Cody, had developed a close friendship with a classmate who had Down syndrome, sparking their need to welcome children with special needs into their family. Shannon and her husband Troy put their names forward to adopt Joey and were chosen among the potential families, which Shannon believes was possibly by default.
From that first experience, the Pinkertons recognized a crucial gap in the foster care system that wasn’t adequately addressed, particularly for older children with special needs. After adopting Joey, the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network connected the family with a couple of older children also for adoption. They realized that everyone wanted to adopt babies but left the older kids in the foster care system.
Their family grew bigger.
Nearly 15 years later, Shannon and her husband have officially adopted Joey, now 23, along with five other young men with Down syndrome — Devlin, 18, Julian, 20, Cameron, 23, Anthony, 25, and Tracee, 28. Some of them also happen to be dwarfs and face developmental challenges, including nonverbal autism. But their conditions never interfered with their lives. In addition to their children, the Pinkerton family also provides care for MaryBeth, a 65-year-old with Down syndrome, who has been a part of Shannon’s life since childhood. Despite her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, MaryBeth has found solace and a loving home with the Pinkertons for the last two decades.
Whether they’re horseback riding on their sprawling 40-acre property, collecting eggs from their chickens, or simply making a swift trip to Sam’s Club for groceries, Shannon insists that there’s never a dull moment. Troy believes that they’re happy because of it. The couple believes that if they were in some facility, they’d just go through the motions of everyday life and miss out on things that so-called normal people get to do.
Beyond their day-to-day activities, the Pinkerton boys recently received a meaningful gift — a fully accessible playground built in their backyard. The non-profit organization Unlimited Play, in collaboration with Little Tikes Commercial, initiated this thoughtful gesture, aiming to provide all children, regardless of their abilities, the opportunity to play and grow in a safe environment.
An internet sensation
While the adoption journey hasn’t been without its challenges, including bureaucratic complexities and legal hurdles, the Pinkerton family has persevered through it all and now share their daily life on their social media, where they are affectionately known as the “Pinkerton Boys.” She believes this gesture allows their story to inspire and educate others about the realities of living with and caring for individuals with special needs. “If you get to know them, you just fall in love with them. They don’t judge anybody on anything. They are so kind,” she says.
The boys frequently spend their evenings and weekends with the couple’s four grown biological children, along with their three grandchildren, and often attend the college wrestling matches of their youngest son, Cody, 22. Despite sometimes being a busy environment, the couple just wants to support all of their kids and provide a place they can truly call home.
Overcoming challenges day by day
Shannon’s upbringing in a household with six women, under the guidance of her mother, Jane Barrett, who managed a residential group home, has significantly shaped her approach to parenting. Borrowing wisdom from her mother, Shannon ensures that her kids frequent familiar places where they know the staff, effectively managing potential challenges.
A typical day for the Pinkerton brothers often involves accompanying their mother to the supermarket, with the family spending approximately $3,000 each month on groceries.
Joey’s culinary passion, Devlin’s love for horseback riding with his father, and the shared responsibilities among the siblings reflect the supportive and nurturing environment the Pinkerton family has fostered over the years. Shannon highlights the remarkable progress her sons have made, especially in their personal development, recalling Joey’s successful toilet training within a mere two days and Cameron’s challenging journey of overcoming past traumas and behavioral struggles upon joining their family.
With their heartfelt story resonating across social media platforms, the Pinkerton family has not only captured the hearts of many but has also sparked essential conversations about inclusivity, understanding, and the inherent value of every individual. Their resilience and unwavering spirit serve as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path toward a more compassionate and inclusive society.