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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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Before And After Zachariah: Special Needs Parenting 101. (Part Two)
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A couple who had their severely disabled child placed into an institution try to live out their lives together with their remaining two children, but they find that they still miss their little boy and wish that he was home with them.

Image of storm (c) 2009, by Karla Dorman.

You would think that not having Zachariah here with us would be easier 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While Beth and I are able to spend plenty of time with our other two children (Hannah, 9, and Zebediah, 7), and live a fairly normal life, deep down in our minds, we think of Zachariah, and we get sad. Very sad.

Zachariah is four.  He is profoundly disabled.  Unable to see, hear, talk, walk.  I hate to say this about our own son, but he is a living vegetable.  We tried, oh, how we tried!  to take care of him, but it got to be overwhelming.

We made the painful decision to put him in an institution.  We know he's getting the best of care, but deep down, we wonder, "Is he REALLY??"  I mean, look at the stories you hear about the deplorable conditions at many institutions for the severely handicapped, the stories you hear of mistreatment and worse ... and we feel guilty for placing him there.

What else could we have possibly done?  Our son requires 24 hour care, care that we weren't able to provide.  He will require special attention for the rest of his life.  He is like a baby.

A baby that will never grow up.  Oh, he'll grow up physically, but that's about it.

We were having to work two and three jobs, just to cope with the ever-increasing cost of medical care.  The bills continue to pour in, although the flow has slowed some.  We couldn't deal with the demands Zachariah placed upon us, and Beth and I hate missing the time not spent with our two remaining children.

I wonder if they resent their mother or I.

It was an extremely hard decision to make, to have our son placed into the facility, but as I said, we had no other choice.  We had to get our lives back before we ended up getting divorced or ended up killing ourselves ... or Hannah and Zebediah, and quite possibly Zachariah himself.. 

We do manage to visit Zachariah one or two Saturdays a month.  That way, we can keep tabs on the care he gets.

So far, no problems; he is continuing to flourish and do well, considering the severity of his medical problems.  Strange.  He is healthier now than he has ever been and is finally gaining some needed weight: Zachariah is no longer a pile of skin and bones, and his color has improved, too.  He looks great!

The staff has been very good to him: cuddling him, holding him, playing with him, interacting with him.  They are trying to teach him very basic sign language by signing into his hand and are trying to teach him how to hold his head up.  So far, not much progress has been made, but they are determined to help open up his limited world one little step at a time.

I just wish we could have taken better care of Zachariah when he was home with us.  This is the guilt that still punishes us day in and day out, but we try to forget about that as we plunge into our work and our children.

Maybe time will heal all this grief that's pressed down on us.  I hope.  We will always have a piece of Zachariah imbedded deep inside our hearts.  He is as much a part of our family as are Hannah and Zebediah, only he no longer lives at home.  He is still our son, first and foremost, and we happen to love him very, very much.

I just wish life were a lot easier for him ... having one disability is bad enough: why blind and deaf and mute and unable to walk?  What did we do wrong that Zachariah was born damaged?

Everyone says it just happened, there was a reason.  I don't understand what it is.

An institution is no place for a child to grow up, but when a child can't do anything for himself, then what could we do??  We have two other children, normal, healthy children that needed their Mom and Dad.  They were nearly neglected, because everything was for their brother.  All attention was on Zachariah.  All concern was for him.  No one seemed to ask how Hannah and Zebadiah were.  We had no choice!

What.  Could.  We.  DO??

This is the main question that plagues us day in and day out.

~To be continued.~ 

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Reviewed by Paul Berube 9/27/2011
Sad update, Karen, but well done.
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 9/27/2011
Cant imagine the heartbreak and the guilt the family felt at this necessary decision but painful one nonetheless, well told story Karen as always
In Christs Love
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 9/27/2011
Sadness in these lines, Karen. Very sad, for all involved: the institutionalized child, the family forced to leave him there ... the guilt ... well done.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 9/27/2011
So very, very sad, for both child and parent.
Reviewed by Cindy Tuttle 9/27/2011
Another very touching story Karen. Can't imagine how hard that must be for families who have to make that hard decision.

With Love,

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