Once upon a time a younger (perhaps a little lighter) version of mommy and daddy fell madly in love. We couldn’t possibly imagine life without one another, so we decided to make our little love story official on a Wednesday afternoon (I had that day off work) …during the recess of a murder trial (not ours)…in an Indiana Courthouse. The day was absolute perfection! My pink dress from Target, giddy with anticipation, the laughter…so much laughter. I remember my cheeks hurting from smiling so much and little has changed since then. Your daddy still makes me smile every day.
…And we lived (are living…) happily ever after.
Ha! You didn’t think it was going to end there did you?
The young, newly married mommy and daddy went on to create this beautiful family – our dream team, that you are part of today. Life would never be boring - there was so much to look forward to! Milestones, vacations, graduations, weddings, and even one day being old having our sole responsibility be spoiling grandbabies. The one thing I can honestly say never crossed our minds was whether these things would occur, it was just assumed they would.
You see Addie, when you become a parent you make it your life’s work to love your children endlessly and prepare them for their adult independence, where they too will go on to write their perfect story. Here’s the thing, libraries are full of stories. These books have no set number of pages or chapters. Each story is unique. Kind of like our life story, some of us may to go on to pen more chapters then others.
Today, as I get ready I see a little girl playing with my bracelets and in my shoes, finding pleasure in putting lip gloss on my lips (or teeth!). This is today. Every day that passes you get a little older and I’m left to wonder if one day we’ll be standing in this very place, only the image looking back at us in the mirror will have changed. In my place will be an older woman, wrinkles and white hair, and in yours, no longer a little girl, but rather a beautiful, grown up woman.
Will you still then take enjoyment in playing in my shoes or helping mommy put on makeup… I wonder? This leads to deeper thoughts of your life as “Adult Addie.” What does that look like?
We don’t own a crystal ball in this house, so good or bad I have no idea what any of our futures look like. Spouses, children, careers…do we ever get a hot tub (just kidding… kinda); it all comes in appropriate time. But with special needs children, this unclear future can be downright terrifying. You are gaining new tools and life skills everyday leading you closer to gaining independence, but will it be enough when your adult years arrive? What type of care will you need 10, 20, 40, 60 years from now?
Your siblings will always be around to love and support you, but the support you may need could just be more than they can give. Who knows, perhaps you’ll have a level of independence that can handle living independently or semi independently. With that in mind, the idea of a place autistic individuals can safely live independently and thrive, successfully living their lives, and contributing to society is something that gets us very excited.
Addie these thoughts are not about setting limits on your future, but just having options to give you the best future possible!
As luck would have it, mommy and daddy were invited to the Bluebird Ball - 3 Irish Jewels Gala Fundraiser to help raise money for a place such as this!
Do you remember that amazing little autism camp we sent you to over the Summer? Camp Bluebirds? Well, not only was it super fun for you (6yo Addie), but they have an amazing vision that could potentially benefit you well into the future. The family and all their supporters behind Camp Bluebird and the Bluebird Ball has plans of eventually offering a residential farm community with up to 20 on-site residents and full-time caregivers for autistic adults 18+ who have aged out of school services. The resident homes would house 4-5 individuals with 2-3 staff members in each location. They would also continue their super fun day camp, summer, and track-out programs for school-aged children with autism with the farm community.
While nobody likes to attach a dollar amount to the endless joys of raising children, the fact remains it can be quite expensive. This is especially true when it comes to raising a child or children with special needs. In fact, one study funded by Autism Speaks estimated the average lifetime cost to be $1.4 million for a person affected by autism.
So, while the vision of this farm seems every bit of perfect, it is going to need a little help with funding, hence our night at the ball, with my fairytale gown and prince charming.
Addie, the night was perfect! I smiled until my cheeks hurt just like how our love story began. I teared up a little bit when I watched a slideshow that included pictures of you enjoying yourself at camp this summer. I witnessed some amazing generosity during a live auction of artwork done by you and your peers. We even won a few pieces during the live auction (daddy was bidding like a pro!) that will be proudly displayed in our home - and let us not forget the dancing! I love to dance baby girl!
We rejoiced in a vision that was making great strides to becoming closer to a reality. We rejoiced in an option for your future and others like you Addie. We rejoiced together in our little bluebird community, because together we can do anything!
I hope no matter what the future holds, that you will always be safe, inspired, and have the chance to smile until your cheeks hurt
I love you baby –