Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, welcomed a child with Down Syndrome.
Doctors advised the couple to give up the baby, but they decided to take her home.
After their daughter’s death, his wife wrote a book about her experience of raising a special needs child.
Evans called her an “angel” looking over their family.
Roy Rogers was a man of many talents—an impressive rodeo rider, a singer, an actor, and a talk show host whose successful career earned him the title “The King of Cowboys.”
In his time alive, Rogers also proved the importance of family. He refined the socially normalized nuclear family with his openness to adopt and raise children from his previous partners.
Rogers married his second wife, Dale Evans, in 1947, and together they showed how their love for family goes beyond direct bloodline, but some parts of building this pool of love carried a lot of hurt and sadness.
In 1950, the couple welcomed Robin, their first and last biological child. While Rogers and Evans were filled with joy and ready to meet their baby girl, the doctor’s reaction put a damper on their happiness.
Rogers and Evans were told their daughter was born with a heart defect and Down Syndrome. The couple was more than willing to give their daughter love, but the doctors advised the parents to give her up.
While married to his first wife, Grace Arlene Wilkins, the couple adopted their daughter Cheryl. She grew up appearing in her father’s movies, but in her adult life, she chose a more private life.
Cheryl did a lot of charity work and served on the Advisory Board of the Western Music Association and the children’s advocacy group, Child Help USA.
Wilkins gave birth to their daughter Linda in 1943. She has also chosen to live out of the spotlight. In her adult life, she enjoys spending time in her California home with her grandchildren.
Rogers and Wilkins welcomed a son, Roy Rogers Jr., but sadly his mother passed due to complications during his birth. Roy Jr. appeared on his father’s show “The Roy Roger’s Show” as a child and grew up to become his father’s manager.
With Evans, Rogers adopted seven-month-old Dodie. She married and welcomed a daughter who has given her beautiful grandchildren.
Evans and her husband were always ready to give a child love. When they traveled to Scotland, they learned about Mimi Sing and asked her to celebrate Christmas at their home.
Mimi never returned to Scotland until she had children of her own, and today she is a grandmother and loves spending time with her grandkids.
The couple also adopted Debbie after she lost her parents in the Korean war, but sadly she died at 12 years old in a tragic bus accident.
The last child of Evans and Rogers was Sandy, but sadly he died after joining the US Army. Sandy died from a choking incident; he was only 18 years old.
Taking Care of a Daughter with Down Syndrome
At first, Evans kept Robin’s diagnosis a secret because she feared the negativity she would get from the public. Additionally, the doctor advised her to put her daughter in a home so she would get the care she needed.
It was also brought to Evans’ attention that caring for her special needs child would impact the attention she gave to her other children.
But Evans wanted her child to feel loved and accepted, so she did everything she could to ensure she was cared for. Despite what doctors advised, the couple took Robin to multiple specialist doctors and got the same answer.
The couple decided to move to the valley, hoping it would be a better environment for Robin growing up. Sadly, at two years, Robin died.
Even though Evans and her husband were heartbroken, they used their experience to empower other families with special needs children.
Roy Rogers & His Wife Influenced the Lives of Thousands of Families
Evans had just lost her two-year-old daughter, but she still felt compelled to tell the world about her experience. She wrote a book of only 63 pages titled “Angel Unaware.”
The book was written from a religious perspective and depicted how Robin brought their family closer and strengthened their faith in God. Evans called her daughter a little “angel,” looking over their family.
Besides that, the book was important for many families because it was the first time a parent had written a book about raising a child with Down syndrome.
Evans’ book became a voice for many other families that felt alone raising their affected children. It opened up conversations about the ups and downs of raising kids with Down syndrome and helped parents feel more confident to embrace their kids.
Several people came forward about the relief the book brought to their families and thanked Evans for making them feel seen. The book became a hit and sold over 2 million copies. It was priced at $1 but went through two dozen printings, and it became a social phenomenon.