April 17, 2011


Alex was born on June 19th, 1993 at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge IL. She will turn 18 on June 19th, 2011 in Carbondale, CO. Alex will be able to vote, get married, manage her own financial affairs, sign contracts and make all decisions concerning her welfare. I am scared to death.

Many of these rights are within Alex’s abilities, and I look forward to talking to her about elections, and general independence. However, I do not believe Alex should sign contracts, or manage her own financial affairs YET. Perhaps at 21 she maybe able to do this, 18 is too soon for Alex, a young adult who always learns, just not as quickly as her peers. She needs more time.

John and I will appeal to the court to become Alex’s legal guardians. The following definition of a legal guardian is from Wikipedia:

A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority (and the corresponding duty) to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. Usually, a person has the status of guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability.

Courts generally have the power to appoint a guardian for an individual in need of special protection. A guardian with responsibility for both the personal well-being and the financial interests of the ward is a general guardian. A person may also be appointed as a special guardian, having limited powers over the interests of the ward.

Some jurisdictions allow a parent of a child to exercise the authority of a legal guardian without a formal court appointment. In such circumstances the parent acting in that capacity is called the natural guardian of that parent's child.

This is too much legal mumbo jumbo for us and we recognize we need an attorney. I investigated legal aid, and doing the filings myself, but this is really out of my league. The legal aid agencies are back-logged and require extensive documentation; a byproduct of our recession. The solo attempt is tedious, long and has the potential to fail, if one does nut understand all the nuances of the court system..

Hiring an attorney is a very expensive proposition. As casualties of the recession and limited income we are challenged to hire anyone, let alone an attorney. We are trying to do the right thing for our daughter, and we are stymied. How can we do this?

As with the educational system I find myself once again wondering, why can’t professionals do the right thing because it is the right thing? Why do we live in a culture of no we can’t do it, instead of let’s try to find a solution?

I will never concede to living in that culture. As hard as it is, I will try and try some more to facilitate solutions for our community of people with disabilities. Tired, frustrated, broke and discouraged I approached a local law firm familiar with legal guardianship. I spoke with a very knowledgeable attorney who had just been through the process with another family. Her insights and know how convinced me she was the right person. Her fee seemed in line with previous experiences I had with lawyers, but to us it was not realistic by any means. Scrapping together money to buy groceries is hard right now, paying an attorney is impossible.

I am weary of worrying about money. I am tired of the real estate market, which dictates my husband’s income (or lack of) and I am exhausted from working three part-time temporary jobs, one which pays me enough for the bills, and two which do not. One of those jobs has the potential to be a full time job, so I work and work.

With this lack of enthusiasm I approached the attorney. I explained our position, our hopes and dreams for our daughter and my on-going soapbox of “doing the right thing”. And although my expectations were formed though history and my spirit temporarily down I still have hope.

As often happens in Alex’s life, her magic shone through and her dreams and hopes honored. The attorney cut her fee significantly and agreed to a generous payment plan. She is "doing the right thing" for our family. My faith is restored.

I am grateful and relieved. We will become Alex’s legal guardians and continue to prepare her for her own adult life. Everything will be alright!

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