“Moving Day Can Be Moving”
Jarry and Andy, two guys who went to Special Education classes, found their way into the Mid Nebraska Individual Services program as soon as they left school. Both fellows lived at home with their parents but when they left the classroom they qualified for workshop and housing benefits. The two were already well acquainted from their school days and were close to the same age, so they made good housemates. Staff looked after them during the hours they were not involved in sheltered workshop activities, ensuring all their needs were met and they were well cared for, living in a comfortable home on a lovely tree lined street.
Jarry managed to find work in a warehouse and if it had not been for a health condition, he may have been gainfully employed like any other high school graduate.
Andy, on the other hand, exhibited some behavioral issues that precluded private employment. Instead, he shone in the workshop by folding mechanics’ towels, counting the bundles and stacking them.
Both boys matured and learned life skills as their abilities allowed.
It was shocking for them and their families to learn that the owner of the house they rented was going to move back and wanted her house for her own living arrangements. It did not take long, though, before arrangements were made for the guys to live in a newly erected apartment building and they acquired a third housemate, Ron, who shared expenses in the new place.
Moving was exciting for the boys then because each would have shiny new living quarters, the same familiar staff, and new furniture! The parents heaved and hauled all the boys’ belongings to the new digs and helped them get settled.
Change is very difficult for anyone. For people with disabilities it can be traumatic. Ron worries that he will never see his Elvis posters and that he might get lost, Andy is sure he will never be able to find his miniature windmills and obsesses about where the calendar will hang. Jarry just wants to know all about the closets and make certain he’ll have enough room for his Nebraska Cornhusker collection. Change requires a great deal of reassurance and routine!
More than a decade has passed since that major event. The apartment complex no longer allows patio grills, Andy cannot play his drums without disturbing the neighbors, and the management is not willing to make needed repairs to their apartment. It has been decided that more suitable living arrangements can be made by moving the fellows into a six-plex complex near the downtown area. All their needs will be accommodated beautifully in comfortable, affordable surroundings. They will retain their loving staff, the Elvis posters, the windmills and calendars. And Jarry’s room has enough storage for his growing collection of ‘Go Big Red!’ items!
But the very best feature of all? Moms and Dads won’t have to do the heavy lifting this time. Professional movers have been called!
Fear of loss figures into any move for anyone. As a move takes place, we risk losing the familiarity of our routine, the comfort of known surroundings. We may have difficulty remembering where the light switches are placed! We may be concerned that we can find our belongings when we arrive at the new location. This houseful of guys is no different in that respect; their fears may just be amplified and they will no doubt need large doses of reassurance and routine until the new place becomes old hat. They are most fortunate, as are the families, to know that Staff has everything under control and all will be well.
Moving may be a moving experience but it can also be a great adventure! Andy, Jarry and Ron will eagerly and cheerfully share their photo books to prove that point!
Connie Baum-guest blogger
My husband and I are the proud parents of six adopted children. We have 3 girls and 3 boys. Each person has their own gifts and blessings. Some of those children are special needs children; and some are not. We have children with special needs issues ranging from bi-polarism, to ADHD, to learning disabilities, to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, some have behavior related issues. One is homeschooled, one is in special education classes, one should have been, and some have benefitted from regular educational services. Some are adults living their own lives very successfully. Others struggle in some areas of day- to- day activities. A couple have to be supervised or encouraged every waking moment of the day to help keep them focussed on being the best person that they can be. They are all loved, supported and have brought much to our family.
Each person has their abilities and their challenges. None of them did anything to deserve the life they were born into; they had no control over the very beginning of their life. Yet, each of them must strive to have a loving, healthy, productive and happy life. It is possible. Some adaptations may be required for some of my children to have an independent life; but, it is possible. Since it IS possible, we will do whatever we can do to help make that happen.
Adoption is a complex thing. It serves many purposes and yet…it has an ability to wound, to heal, to lift up, to destroy, to save lives, and to shuffle lives. There are always imprints of a life that was supposed to be; melded into the life that is gifted and aborbed into another family. There are moments of: celebration, sadness, regrets, and purposeful choices; adoption is a wonderfully, painful mixture of the emotional buffet of life! It is a parent’s responsibility to seek excellence for the quality of life for their children.
Our family is special and unique; I bet your family is too! We have had many successes as a family; as well as, some twists and turns that were unexpected. The dream of a new parent doesn’t usually include the expectation that things could turn out differently from the dream of a picture perfect family. A birth family or an adopted family does not get to choose from an ‘ala carte menu, of challenges it may or may not face. As most parents would say, we live and breath for our children; and yet, we are not ashamed to say at times…we wonder…did we do the right thing? Our children didn’t get a choice in life in which family they would grow up in. There are shades of grey for each person…balancing the pros and cons of adoption.
Whether a child is brought into a family by birthing it into the family, or by adoption…the child is received with awe, with excitement, and with hope for a beautiful future. There are unexpected situations at times regarding health issues, behavioral issues, attachment issues, emotional issues and even loyalty issues. Those things and more can affect the foundation of a family.
Many families are jolted to learn that their child has special needs or that their adopted child has issues that will affect them and their family for years to come. It is a difficult time for parents and other siblings to struggle to learn about the issues facing the family…because…none of us go it alone.
Family is a support system all unto itself…but, sometimes the issues can seem overwhelming. That is the time that families need to reach beyond their boundaries that are self imposed, because many do not understand what we face as families with challenges. Don’t let that stop you from reaching out. You just might be surprised by the impact that you could have on another…or vice versa.
Really, for many people going through the shattered reality that their family is not following the dream of perfect completion…there is a sense of isolation and a perceived lack of understanding from others who have not walked in the same pair of shoes.
So, is there a need for support and information for families who have experiences that can mirror each other? Is there a wealth of understanding that is untapped because we have not had the opportunity to join forces and absorb techniques and encouragement from one another? I think there is. I have heard so many comments that would break your heart. Families that are under so much strain that they threaten to break and disintegrate under the pressure. If one person or family can benefit from sharing and encouraging each other here; then, the blog will have served it purpose.
Do you know someone who has things to share? Do you know someone who could benefit from a little support or information? Do you know someone who is facing a future with a special needs child and is struggling? Do you know someone with rose colored glasses that is thinking about adoption; but, isn’t willing to accept anything less than perfection? Bring them to a place that will enlighten them, encourage them, and embrace them! Families should be celebrated and enjoyed…not everyone is blessed with people to share their love with.