Time to Grow
As the parents of Mikyla (born with Cri-du-chat Syndrome) we had always imagined her having a life away from us – her family. We thought at about age 25 it would be time, but I (as her parent) was not ready to let go. The thought of letting her go to someone else’s care was momentous. Someone else would be making decisions for her, would they let her grow without taking over? I then met David Dougherty the Community Living Manager at Crosslinks Inc. and he showed us the pathway to a transition that would work for our daughter and for us. He stressed that Crosslinks Inc. was there to support, encourage and advise. He said the home was not the Support Workers home but the home of the individuals.
It was not easy as my son was protective of his sister and thought I was ‘just getting rid of her’! Her sister was angry and said, “It’s my job to look after her,” and her dad became a little emotionally withdrawn. He was caught in the conflict of wanting to protect his little girl, so vulnerable, and yet also knowing he needed to let go. Mikyla needed her own life and to make new friends.
It has now been a year since planning began with David. He organised a very positive transition for Mikyla to move into a Crosslinks Inc. supported home, where she has developed friendships and does things other girls do. I can say Mikyla’s life skills have increased greatly in this time. She is more independent, involved in cooking, taking responsibility in sharing house caring tasks and in her own personal care needs. Crosslinks Inc. provide full support in leading Mikyla towards a more independent life. They don’t ‘do’ for her, they teach her how to ‘do’. We still see Mikyla whenever we want to or whenever she wants to see us. We have great mother-daughter days and family outings and when we say goodbye she goes to her house and we go to ours. This is the normality we wanted for her, to grow as a person in her own right with friends. We will always be strong advocates for a child with disability having the opportunity to live their life their way and I am so glad we did not deny this to Mikyla.
Mikyla’s sister and brother now understand and support her independence and instead of being carers they are keen advocates for their sisters’ wellbeing and for her to have the same opportunities as they have in living their own lives.
The last year has seen me on a rollercoaster of emotions. Suddenly finding out who I am outside the years of being a Mum and in the caring role. Trying to find out what a new ‘normal’ life is for Graham and I, accepting and not feeling guilty about us as parents having the right to have a life as a couple. For me, I’m also working towards my dreams, dreams I didn’t know I had as life as I knew it was always about Mikyla.
Most importantly Mikyla has our ongoing, unconditional love and support in her life.
– Belinda Harrison