Cara was the very first parent with a child born with Down Syndrome that I met after I had had Luke. She came to visit with a teddy bear and a beautiful bunch of yellow roses. I remember thinking, she is so lovely and so normal! It is so weird how our brain operates in those early blurry days. 

I then met her husband Verster at a parents support group and I remember thinking this man is so wise and speaks such truths.

It is this combination of honesty, passion, loyalty and love that make the Brent’s the kind of family that you want to be around, and often. Their three beautiful daughters are testament to their incredible parenting and their youngest Leila is honestly one of the prettiest girls I have ever met. Joy simply pours out of her beautiful big, doe like eyes. 

I hope you enjoy reading the Brent’s journey, absorb the love and joy that jumps off of these pages and have your breath taken away by the beautiful Leila. 


Leila is dressed by Flynn Jaxon

All images are by Derryn Schmidt


The Brent Family. Dad – Verster is a Senior Communications Practitioner. Mom – Cara is an Administrator,
Paige (15), Casey (12) and Leila (7)

Leila has been an absolute blessing to our family and our community of friends. She continues to inspire and amaze us with her abilities to continually learn and explore new things. She tackles everything and in her mind there are no limits or boundaries. She teaches us to enjoy and appreciate the small things in life – she grounds us as a family. She has shifted our thought patterns and made us realise the value of each and
every life.

Leila was born at Umhlanga Hospital in 2011; the diagnosis journey was a tough one with much of the experience focussed on the negative aspects of children born with Down Syndrome. There were a few times through the journey where we were encouraged to terminate the pregnancy because of the strain and financial drain a child born with Down Syndrome would have on our family.

The tough moments for us as a family are when people judge her because of the classification without really getting to know her. But we do realise that in most cases people’s reactions are because of a lack of knowledge. It’s also tough when we compare Leila to other children of her age group, that’s often when the developmental delays really hit home.

Our euphoric moments are when we celebrate each milestone achieved regardless of how small or insignificant it may be. When we experience her laughter and pure joy at living life to the fullest. It’s also very special to see how she reaches, teaches and touches people in her innocent and naïve way. She has no filter. She doesn’t see differences.

Our advice to a pre mom would be is to make contact with a family that already has a Down Syndrome child and have a chat. Most of the information ‘out there’ is really dark and depressing so talking to families that have already been through the process will give a different perspective to what you read online.

We would like the world to know how wonderful these children are and that they can make a significant contribution to society.
The best advice we were given when Leila was born was simply to take it one day at a time. Have all the medical assessments done to create a baseline from which to work, heart, eyes and hearing. The other thing we would suggest is to start stimulating the brain as early as you can. Our children can learn and they love to learn. Early stimulation is key to your child’s future development. Don’t limit your child…. Treat them as any other child











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