‘Twas Once a Child

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My daughter, Marie, has reached adulthood, having graduated from a residential program that had services for both her deafness and her mental health issues. This is the age of worry for any parent, especially one with so many challenges.

When she came to live with us at the age of seven and we were told she was “just deaf”, we could not have properly prepared ourselves for the roller coaster ride of a life she, and we, would have. She was a wild child, blonde hair askew, eyes angry, mouth so hungry she would hoard food under her mattress. She was very angry she had been removed from her mother, (for doing unspeakable acts which shall remain unspoken.) Despite providing her with a healthy, well cared for childhood, Marie’s disposition had been preformed. She would lie, steal, beg strangers for money, and reject all of our efforts to parent her. A hug and a kiss would throw her into a fury. Discussing our parenting situation and our need to show her love, she reluctantly let us “fist bump” her. Years later she apologized and told us her birth mom made her promise not to hug or kiss us, and that we really wouldn’t be her parents. It took us many years of fist bumps before she would accept a hug, and many years more before she would let us kiss her. She is now a young adult, and freely hugs and kisses us if the mood suits her. She shows genuine affection and appreciation, the highest reward any parent could expect from an original wild child.

Although Marie can be very capable, she has been unable to live in a non-structured setting because of her unstable bouts with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For those unfamiliar with this life altering condition, it is experiencing horrific memories so acutely that one becomes “in the moment” of prior abuse, crazed eyes staring back as though at her accusers, ready to defend herself with flailing arms and legs and gnashing teeth. An ambulance ride to the hospital and sedation was the only thing that could bring her out of her experience. It has always been especially tear inducing, (for me,) when at the hospital, with her hand in restraints, she would wake from the sedation, look around, and finger spell (ASL) asking me where she was, having had no memory of the event. Next she would say her throat hurts, (from screaming, no doubt,) and ask for a Popsicle, which she would skillfully eat while still in restraints.

Marie is now formally an adult. A lot of planning has gone into finding an adult home for her, one that would be staffed 24 hours. My calling all possible supported living programs in our state began about a year and a half ago. With the dual diagnosis of deafness and mental illness, no program would accept her. Many of the programs who may have had prior experience in working with her, never even returned my calls.

After working closely with the Department of Developmental Disabilities, whose frustration and efforts equaled mine; they were able to establish a placement for her that has far surpassed our expectations through a program used to dealing with adults with more severe developmental disabilities. They had no prior experience with a young adult with both of Marie’s difficulties, but once they learned there was someone in such need, they stepped right up and took on the challenge.

Marie now lives in a cute, little house on a nice residential street. As described by those on the show “House Hunters”, this one would be described at “Retro”, with bright yellow tile, a front door carved with circles, and a front porch with wrought iron table and chairs. Neighbors bring over cookies and wave to each other on the street. There are three bedrooms in the house, and she is hoping that a housemate will join her soon. She insists that her house buddy like to watch scary movies, (VERY scary movies,) and, most of all, must not be allergic to pets. Marie has a guinea pig that is usually perched on her chest with both of her hands gently stroking the lucky animal, a calming activity that works for both her and Oreo, who is black with a white center, of course.

Marie is thrilled to be able to go shopping for food she likes, not necessarily the food I have cooked for her. She is no longer in school, so work activities will happily replace the classes with which she used to have such frustration. She has directly chosen the things that she would like to do during the day, throwing out suggestions I would have thought unobtainable.

Marie has always loved to ride horses but gets frustrated that when we go, her horse needs to be tethered to another due to her deafness. She recently began an activity at a horse farm that facilitates riding for children with disabilities. For such children, the riding is therapeutic, but the horse walks slowly. Marie’s job is going to be to trot the horses at the end of the day because the horses themselves get bored walking slowly. What better job than that for someone who loves to ride horses?

Marie’s penchant for all animals has earned her a spot working with “disenfranchised” cats and kittens, that is, homeless felines. She will clean the cages, feed them, and then “show them off” like Vanna White highlights the letters on “Wheel of Fortune”. Oreo will be jealous, I’m sure, so Marie will have to wash the cat scent off before she returns home.

At this point in her life, Marie is feeling very good about herself and her care for others. She has signed up for a Meals on Wheels route, and all of those hugs she didn’t give in her early years will undoubtedly be dispensed ten times over among her lunch recipients.

As a mom with a daughter for whom life experiences didn’t start out well, I am so thrilled that in her adult life she will be doing the things she enjoys with people who will support, encourage and appreciate her. What more could any parent ask for?

 

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To read our story raising Marie and her four siblings, please purchase my book, The Apple Tree:  Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane. It is on sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Thank you for your support!

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Comments on: "‘Twas Once a Child" (12)

  1. Reblogged this on Life on the Road Less Traveled and commented:
    Sometimes when you are in the thick of things, just trying to get through a difficult day, it can help to read a story like this one and know that, even when a disability is for life, there can be happy endings! Thanks so much for sharing, Linda!

  2. stephie2010 said:

    Hi!
    I don’t know if you remember me, but I read your book ages ago and really enjoyed it. I’m glad there’s a happy ending for Marie.
    I have a suggestion and I understand if you won’t have time to keep up with it. However, I think it would be a great way for you to connect with your fans, find some authors you enjoy reading, and who do the same type of job as you. You could promote your book on it as well as any future books you may write in the future. Just to toss out some ideas. I think you should get a twitter. I would follow it and I’m sure others would too.

    • I definitely do remember you! Thank you for buying my book. I currently am a columnist for several local newspapers. Keeps me active in my spare time.

      • stephie2010 said:

        Nice! I’m glad you remembered me. I was afraid you wouldn’t. I still think you getting into twitter would be a good idea. Getting to see your thoughts throughout the day could be interesting. LOL. Plus as I’ve said it would be a great way to promote your book. There are lots of bloggers on Twitter who review books and you could contact them and ask them to review your book if you wanted. I recently started a writing Twitter because I’m planning on publishing books under a different name. That’s how I know about all the book stuff you can do. LOL. And OK, I’m going to be honest. It would be nice to be able to be able to mention you on Twitter and be like this is the person who wrote this book that I’m promoting. LOL. Anyway, I think it’s worth a look to see if it was something you would do.

  3. How wonderful for her. You must be very proud of her and yourself for giving her the opportunities to enjoy life.

  4. I’ve been following your family for some time now and often wondered how Marie would be able to function on her own. But, look at her now! She is making many of her own decisions regarding work, choosing her own meals, making friends. You did a remarkable job as a Mom and Marie is doing just what any adult child would be doing.

    • I know she is doing what any adult child would be doing, isnt it amazing???? without the support of her agency, things would have turned out so differently. It is true that I am cordial and respectful with their program directors to get to this point. Many parents are advesarial, and they dont understand the ramifications for their adult children. Proof of the saying you get more with honey than vinegar!

      • Here in Hawai’i we call it “The Aloha Spirit” and you have plenty of that. All of your children have been lucky that you’ve patiently worked so hard their behalf with kindness.

  5. This is a wonderful outcome for all of you.

  6. Wonderful outcome for Marie!

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