It happened again. My heart is broken as I heard the latest news report on another child with disabilities who was abandoned by his Mom in some woods. There is absolutely nothing about this tragedy that is right. Even so, it’s an indication of how hard life with disability can be.
Two years ago there was a similar situation in Philadelphia. The reflections I wrote then still apply and reposted below. Church – these stories beg for us to act – what is your response?
I am sure that by now most of you have heard or read the story of the 21 year old non verbal young man with cerebral palsy who was abandoned by his mother for more than a week along Cobbs Creek Parkway in Philadelphia while she went to her visit her boyfriend. This young man laid in the park for multiple days with only a blanket and a Bible.
The mother, who has been arrested and is currently hospitalized (reason unknown), has been berated by all who hear the story. I have to agree that this is a horrendous situation. I am grateful that this young man lived and is now being cared for by CHOP and other family members. There really is no excuse for what the Mom did. It is wrong to endanger her son’s life in this way.
Now don’t flog me; while I completely disagree with the actions of the Mom and cannot condone them on any level, I have some compassion for the woman and some understanding of what she may have been up against.
Caregiving is hard! It’s constant and continual. I know, I’ve been doing it full time about a year less than this Mom. And gratefully the person I care for is verbal and independent with all but his personal care. He also has attendant care that spells me off a few days a week. Even so, caregiving is exhausting and relentless.
While some may say she should have sought services to help, we are all aware of how difficult it is to get services through the social service agencies and governmental avenues. If there is funding available the wait can very long, and often appropriate caregiving support is difficult to locate. Again, this does not excuse what this Mom did. Honestly what this story tells me is that I am in the right line of work!
The answer to the challenges of life with disability and caregiving is NOT more money or better services (though they may help). The answer is Jesus Christ and His family. The only hope we have is the hope that is greater than anything in this world, and carries us into eternity because life on this earth is not all there is . While we are still in this world though, the answer includes those of us who call ourselves the Church (not any individual location, building or gathering but rather those who claim Jesus as Lord of life and want to live for Him) taking seriously the call Christ gives us to care for one another, to love one another and bear one another’s burdens.
These stories reminds me that it’s time for the Church to step it up. I wonder if these stories would have had a different ending if some people in the community who are Christians would have come along side these Moms and been there to encourage her, help care for her son and let her know there is a better way than abandonment?
I don’t know that for sure – there are so many factors involved in every family and life. But this story gives me a renewed sense of passion to go to work tomorrow and build the passion, capacity and burden within the Christian community to come alongside families affected by disability so this type of thing never ever happens again!
Who do you know in your community who cares for a family member with a disability?
What can you do this week to share hope and joy to let them know they are not alone?