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Conservatorship, Part Five

Posted Jun 18 2013 11:00am

So, it's done. The Husband and I took Sophie downtown yesterday morning and waited with many other families before filing into a small courtroom where we waited some more for our turn to stand in front of the judge, raise our hands and swear our truth. We sat quietly and listened while a grandmother petitioned to become the guardian of a fourteen year old girl. The girl's father objected, and there was some intense back and forth between the man, the judge and the girl. The court security guard stood up and walked over when the father pulled papers out of his bag and then pushed them toward the girl and her lawyer. It was hard not to notice the gun. A large young man with Down Syndrome stood between his mother and father, his arms thrown around their shoulders, a huge grin on his face when the judge pronounced them guardians. Throughout the entire proceedings, I heard the most horrific clicking, grinding noise coming from behind me, althernating with screeches, and I strained to not look back. At some point, a young man in a wheelchair was pushed up the aisle toward the judge. He was small and shrunken in his chair, rubbed his hands together over and over and ground his teeth so hard that I closed my eyes, imagined my hands on either side of his small face, willed it peace. Sophie hummed and shifted in her own chair, the judge was respectful and greeted each conservatee by name, both when they entered and when they left, was almost sweet in mien.

I realized that in the not so distant past, all of these young adults would have been chained to beds in institutions. I was grateful for the reams of paper, for the waiting and the officialese. I was grateful for the absurdity of all of it.

Eighteen years ago, on June 17th, I was in New York Hospital with Sophie in a room with six cribs and six sick babies. I sat in a plastic chair by a dirty-paned window and waited for the hours to pass, the nightmare to end. Instead, I learned how to inject steroids into Sophie's legs by practicing on an orange, the nurse cheerful in her demonstration. I pressed my nose on the nineteenth century glass of the parents' lounge and cried, my tears running off my nose and down the window. I waited for tests to come back, for reasons and answers to whys, the baby sleeping and crying and seizing in the metal crib, while I sat in the plastic chair and just kept waiting.

The papers have not been officially stamped and could take up to eight weeks to be delivered (wait for six and then call, our court-appointed attorney said), but we are now Sophie's official conservators, granted the seven powers of conservatorship.

So, that's it.

My main thought is whether I check the box next to the word Guardian or the box next to the word Parent - Mother on future official documents.

Does anyone know? I'll wait for an answer. I'm still waiting.
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