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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where's Molly

On Sunday CBS aired a piece called "Where's Molly?" It is about a brother who finally finds out what happened to his younger sister. He was around 5 or 6 when his sister Molly (around 3) 'disappeared' from the family. He would ask "Where's Molly?" over and over, but no one ever told him what happened to her.

47 years later he found Molly. And the secret of her disappearance was she was sent to live in an institution. You can read the article here, or watch the video on it below.

This story is so bittersweet and I definitely needed tissues. It's wonderful he's found his sister and they are now building a relationship together. You can see from the childhood pictures how much Jeff enjoyed having a younger sister ... so to think of those 47 lost years is heartbreaking.

He said Molly had some minor disabilities, but he thinks she became 'institutionally r*tarded' and I think he hit the nail on the head with that term. I wonder how different Molly's life would have been if she was raised in a loving, stimulating, family environment. If she went to school and had been given the chance at an education. I wonder that about so many children from years ago. Children who were immediately placed in  institutions as infants, and those like Molly, at a few years old. Children who were never given the opportunity to realize their potential.

There is a documentary on Jeff's and Molly's story.

Put in to an environment like mental institutions where that's all you know and no one takes the time to teach you anything? It's no wonder the attitudes were that kids with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities couldn't learn. They were never given a chance to learn.

I don't blame Molly's parents, or any parents from that time. I don't know who is to blame for the existence of institutions. I just know it was the common thing to do. It was the 'norm' to be told you should place your child in the institution, forget about them, and go on with your life.

I can't even imagine what that was like as a parent. I can't imagine giving birth to Kayla and then being told I should send her to an institution, that it would be the best thing for her. I see her thriving with her family and my heart breaks for all the kids who didn't get that chance.

I am so thankful I don't live in a time where anyone suggested to me to put Kayla in an institution. I was thinking how nice it is that attitudes have shifted, but then I realized they haven't really. Because now? Instead of telling parents to send your child to an institution you can find out during pregnancy and just abort your baby.

I am thankful for the parents who started saying, "No. We're going to raise our children at home, where they belong." and for making institutions a thing of the past (at least in the US, unfortunately not so for Eastern Europe).

So while parents now take their babies home from the hospital to raise them, or place them for adoption, there is still the statistic that 90% who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome abort. There it still a long way to go in changing attitudes.

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Becca said...

I got chills reading this. So true, Michelle. The thought of Samantha being doomed to a life in an institution is so beyond heartbreaking...I can't wait to go home and hug her TIGHT tonight.

my family said...

thanks for the tissue "warning" this video had me in tears to think of what is was like then and how it is still in some places

Mer said...

wow. thanks for sharing!

Leah said...

I guess I never realized 90% faced with downs syndrome abort! Wow...I am a mother of 1 daughter (20 mo.) and 20 weeks pregnant w/daughter #2, and I am shocked at that statistic. How anyone ever thinks they have the right to end a precious life is beyond me. Thanks for your blog. I'm a new reader, but I love it! :)

Anonymous said...

so sad, and yet, had a beautiful ending with big brother finding his younger sister.... love mom/grandma

Cindy said...

This is a great post. Even as recent as the early 80's doctors were giving parents the 'option' of putting their children in an institution. Chuck and I were shocked when our doctor suggested it. He wasn't surprised however, when we said, "No thanks."

I think you're right about abortion though. It's sad that society now sees that as a good option for our children.

Kaetlyn said...

Fantastic post. However, I should have heeded the tissue warning and not watched this at work! 57 years ago when my uncle was born with DS, my Grandmother said "NO" to an institution despite the advice of her doctor. Today, my uncle is thriving. I'm so thankful he didn't have that fate. Tonight, I'm going home and hugging my baby Kaetlyn good and tight! Thanks for the post.

Christina said...

Wow what an amazing story!