A Model Family with Fashion Model Amanda Booth | Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Amanda Booth

A Model Family with Fashion Model Amanda Booth

Fashion Model Amanda Booth And Her Husband, Photographer And Creative Director Mike Quinones, Are No Strangers To The Camera — Which Is Why They Decided The Best Way To Advocate For Their Son, Micah, Was To Stay In Front Of One.

 


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TWO YEARS AGO, Amanda and Mike were globe-trotting creative types — she, modeling in Lancôme commercials with Julia Roberts, photo essays in GQ U.K., and ad campaigns for Target and True Religion, among dozens of other brands, and he, a creative director and brand strategist — when they decided to start a family.

“I have six siblings, five of whom are younger than me,” Amanda said. “I couldn’t wait to have my own child, and I knew I was going to be a good mother.”

“When Amanda told me she was pregnant, I instantly felt a change,” Mike added. “There is nothing else that gives that sense of responsibility and honor. Bringing life into this world is an amazing commitment.”

AN EMOTIONAL PATH

Amanda’s pregnancy began, as most do, with excitement. She and Mike created an Instagram account so they could share their nine months of waiting with friends, family, and fans, and Amanda even scored a modeling contract with a maternity line called Wildfox.

However, things started to “go wrong,” as she recalled, toward the end. The couple had made plans for a home birth, but ultrasounds in the last few weeks revealed that Micah had a weak heartbeat and wasn’t growing as he should be, both of which concerned Amanda’s midwife and doctors. Worried her son might be suffering from a serious health issue, she agreed to be induced and give birth in a hospital. It was not a decision she or Mike relished.

After Micah’s birth, as the new family was bonding in the recovery room, the on-call pediatrician stopped by and asked if they had done genetic testing. The doctor told Amanda and Mike she suspected- Micah had Down syndrome.

Amanda Booth

“We’d just had this intense birth, not how I wanted it to be, and we had this tiny baby who was not even five pounds,” Amanda said. “She just comes in and blurts this out.”

The doctor had seen Micah’s slanted eyes, which Amanda attributed to Mike’s part-Mexican heritage, and folded ears, which Amanda suspected might have come from Micah being growth-restricted in the womb. But the doctor wanted to confirm the diagnosis. Still recovering from heightened emotions of the birth and feeling overprotective of her new infant, Amanda didn’t want to subject Micah to having four vials of blood drawn, a requirement of genetic screening.

“We did an echocardiogram knowing 50 percent of babies with Down syndrome have a heart defect,” Amanda said. “Micah didn’t have one, so we felt relieved that the doctor was probably wrong.

At that point, we were medically cleared to go home, so we did.”

Nevertheless, during Micah’s three-month checkup, his pediatrician noticed he had low muscle tone and reiterated that first doctor’s suspicions that Micah had Down syndrome. This time, Amanda and Mike agreed to the screening. The results were positive.

“I think, on some level, we always knew Micah had Down syndrome,” Amanda said. “We should have found out for sure much sooner, but when you don’t know about something, it’s scary. I think that’s why we waited. Knowing what we know now about Down syndrome and life with a child who has it, we realize there wasn’t anything to be afraid of.”

FINDING A COMMUNITY

During those initial months after Micah’s diagnosis was confirmed, Amanda began gravitating to Instagram to learn from other families whose children have Down syndrome.

“I figured, what better way to learn about something than from another person?” she said. “I instantly fell in love with the babies I was seeing, their encouraging parents, and the love they were sharing. I needed to be a part of that.”

She and Mike began sharing their own family pics depicting everyday life at home, such as enjoying the pool or brushing teeth together, and before long, Micah’s fame was growing as fast as his mother’s. His Instagram feed, @lifewithmicah, eventually gained more than 52,000 followers.

Amanda Booth

“Mike and I are doing what everyone else is doing: taking photos of our child, sharing them with the world, and hoping someone will write back and say, ‘Your son is adorable,’ and spark a conversation,” Amanda said. “Sharing our story is a way to let other parents and families in the Down syndrome community know we’re all in this together.”

AT HOME WITH MICAH

Now 2 years old, Micah is a warm, rambunctious, food-loving, outdoorsy toddler. Amanda, Mike and Micah’s pediatrician have found a daily regimen of medications to help combat hypothyroidism and vitamins to bolster his immune system. Physical and speech therapy sessions help him build fine motor and communication skills.

“A perfect day for Micah includes running around and watching Elmo’s World,” Amanda said. “He goes to preschool in the morning, has lunch at home, and then attends a one hour therapy session. He doesn’t nap, so we keep him busy during the rest of the day. He loves being in the water, whether it’s in the pool, ocean, or bathtub. He’ll even spill a drink intentionally just so he can splash it everywhere.”

Balancing their careers and parenthood can be difficult for Amanda and Mike, who now works as global creative director for the tech accessory company Incase. But that just makes the everyday family moments they spend with Micah even more valuable.

“We really enjoy spending time outside as a family, whether we’re mountain biking or going on a hike,” Mike said. “We tow him behind our mountain bikes in his carrier — he wasn’t too sure about riding in his carrier deep into the Angeles mountains at first, but he’s really warmed up to it now.”

The busy parents are grateful for the presence of Amanda’s mother, MaryAnn Wylam, who quit her job and moved across the country to help her daughter and son-in-law care for Micah.

“My mother keeps the wheels of this family turning,” Amanda said. “I’m able to pursue my dreams and my career because I know he’s being well cared for. None of this story would seem as magical without her help.”

THROUGH A MOTHER’S LENS

The lines between the most important threads of Amanda’s life — motherhood, advocacy, and modeling — often blur. Amanda and Micah have appeared together on the cover of Parents magazine and in photos for clothing company Dôen. Mike joined them in photos for Sakura Bloom, which makes baby slings.

The entire family has been featured in People, Harper’s Bazaar, and Mother magazines and numerous online blogs. Amanda and Mike see any opportunity for Micah to take the spotlight — Micah has gone on a few modeling auditions of his own, and according to Amanda, loves being photographed — as a way to break down barriers and stereotypes.

“When Micah is included in a photo shoot, that’s advocacy,” she said. “It means companies aren’t afraid to feature someone with Down syndrome.”
Amanda Booth

“Our path as parents forked after Micah was diagnosed,” Mike said. “We had to choose between living in fear of Micah’s future or helping him define it. We chose the latter by agreeing to not let standards and expectations prevent us from presenting opportunities and choices to him.”

Modeling also affords Amanda the opportunity to speak out for the Down syndrome community as a whole.

“It’s a gift that I’m able to be a voice for this community because of my child,” she said. “I’m lucky that I’m heard and people are interested in what I have to say, and it’s my duty to make sure I do my best to keep that going.”

You can follow the adventures of Micah (@lifewithmicah), Amanda (@amanda_booth), and Mike (@mikerunt) on Instagram.

SHARING HER EXPERIENCE

Model Amanda Booth and her husband, Mike Quinones, opted to forgo prenatal testing when they were pregnant with Micah. Since Amanda was younger than age 35, the age at which the chances a mother might have a child with Down syndrome begin to significantly increase, they knew the results of a prenatal test wouldn’t have made them want to terminate the pregnancy and didn’t expect the test to reveal anything.

“I realize now that a lot of people like to just have information,” Amanda said. “For those people who decide to test, I believe strongly that the correct and current information needs to be accessible.”

Amanda has become an ambassador for the Down Syndrome Prenatal Testing Pamphlet, a joint publication of the Global  Down Syndrome Foundation and National Down Syndrome Congress. Available as a free download at downsyndrometest.org, the publication provides accurate, concise information that helps parents who are considering or have had prenatal testing make informed decisions for their children.

“I hope to get the pamphlet into as many hands as possible,” Amanda said. “There’s no reason women shouldn’t receive the most up-to-date information about Down syndrome.”

FASHION (SHOW) FORWARD

Nowadays, Amanda Booth is more selective with the modeling jobs she chooses because she wants any time away from Micah to feel worthwhile.
But this past November, there was one gig she had no qualms about taking: walking the runway alongside two models in the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 2016 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show.

“It was so much fun,” Amanda said. “I’ve modeled for a long time, and I try not to take it for granted because it’s something others dream of doing. The excitement the children got from walking the runway reminded me of that. I hope my son can be in the show one day.”

Amanda and her husband, Mike Quinones, used their connections in the fashion industry to obtain some of the clothes the models showed off during the event, and they plan to do so again next year.

“What’s been the most rewarding about working with Global has been seeing the walls they’ve steadily been breaking down,” Mike said. “I’d love to see this event in new cities throughout the world so they can continue breaking down those walls.”


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