AN UNUSUAL PARENTING JOURNEY (CELEBRATING THE QUIRKINESS OF LIFE)
Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Kari Wagner Peck
In today’s episode of Healing From Within your host Sheryl Glick and Author of The Living Spirit a tale of spiritual awakening, spiritual communication, intuition, healing and miracles and is a guide to soul awareness welcomes Kari Wagner Peck author of Not Always Happy a memoir about adopting and raising a son with Down Syndrome that celebrates the quirkiness of life.
As listeners of Healing from Within are well aware Sheryl and her guests share intimate mind and heart opening awareness of the true nature of life, both our physical and spiritual energies, and how we may activate through understanding those perceptions a clearer view of who we are, what life is really about and how to create the best version of Self.
Kari Wagner Peck a writer blogger and freelance development consultant who has been a professional advocate for homeless, incarcerated and immigrant individuals and has worked as a documentary videographer is a participant with her husband and their young son in a movement that promises profound changes in our world’s understanding of people with intellectual disabilities.
In response to Sheryl asking Kari to think back to her own earliest beginnings … her childhood and to remember a person place or event that may have shown her or others the values and goals that were important to her and which still may be important to her in her decision and life style now as an adult Kari tells of a teacher she remembers when she was in the second grade who caught her attention as she radiated such goodness and kindness and Kari never forgot the deep impression she made on her psyche.
Kari goes on to tell us about her decision along with her husband who is fourteen years younger than her and her desire to adopt a child when she was 49 years old and something about the Maine foster care system. To get a child from DHHS you have to attend twenty four hours of classes 23 which are basically designed to “scare the daylights out of you” about the prospect of adopting a child in protective custody. Doris and Susan were both mothers who shared their personal horror stories of trying to parent their damaged kids who were adopted from foster care. It was clear they wanted to prepare us for any possibility or the worse kid we could image. The consensus with the others in the group was the same: what had we gotten ourselves into? We found out Adoption Staff are overworked and no one may contact you so you should contact them. We had to make a family profile including photos. We e-mailed our profile to workers in all the counties of Maine and a few leads came from those mailing. At a Foster Care Meet and Greet Mixer we were told that they had a group of kids between the ages of seven and fifteen and told us not to spend too much time with any child as it could give them false hope and we should not tell any kid you are going to adopt them. After 4 months of disappointment we still had been unable to get an actual sit-down with a foster care worker.
Finally when we had a foster care worker, Linda and when Thorin was presented to us as a choice for consideration we were thrilled. It did not matter to us that Thorin had Downs Syndrome for Kari’s husband Ward stated immediately, “Well everyone has some issue and now we know his. Let’s get on with the adoption.” The greater problem was his biological mother had no signed papers allowing for adoption and might change her mind. She had not signed a Renunciation paper giving up her rights to him.
As part of the beginning routine once Thorin moved into our home Linda would visit once a month. Then Karen, Thorin’s GAL would visit once a month. Thorin’s sister Jade who lived in another foster home and had been his care taker as the parents were not capable, also wanted to see him. There would be weekly visitations at the DHHS center with Thorin’s biological mother. A preschool had been chosen for Thorin which he would start that week. It was hard to build a family unit with so many other obligations.
Kari and Ward hope to get people to stop misunderstanding and mistreating those with intellectual differences Kari and her husband and their young son are participants in a movement that promises profound changes in our world understanding of people with intellectual disabilities and that would include as well, people from different religions, cultures, sexes races etc. as we come to know what should be obvious: our shared humanity. In recognizing our spiritual or soul essence and that life is more than our physical challenges we can come to allow accept and surrender to all things with trust in a higher plan for our life journey and for the experiences of love hope and compassion that insure no challenge is too much as all experiences heal and lead us to our Higher Self The refining of soul energy or eternal life force, regardless of ego based distinctions labels or differences through personality and a material view of life is the real reason we have a physical life and nothing is random.
Kari wrote “Not Always Happy” as it is only one of a few books in the marketplace about adopting a child from the foster care system with Down Syndrome. Kari wrote this book to smash the stereotypes of people with Down Syndrome—that they are simple and dull and not always happy. By sharing funny and brutal true-life experienced with her ten year old son readers will understand that he is a complex full participant in life who is not in need of Changing..
Sheryl tells us a story from her childhood and her own experiences with special needs children which began with her own family. Her aunt and uncle had two developmentally challenged sons but at that time the designation for that was that they were retarded. The older boy, Allan was able to go to school and stay with the family. Later on he had work experiences that he enjoyed. He was sensitive and aware, but his brother Richard was unable to live in the home situation and was institutionalized. They visited him every weekend. One day at the pool in the Catskill Mountains some people pointed to him as we walked over to our family. I was surprised at their rudeness and of course since he was my cousin I didn’t see him the way they did. He was sweet and quiet. He loved to talk to my mom who shared all kinds of stories and bits of gossip or news and views. As a sensitive child I wanted to care for and honor all people, just as they were, not as others expected them to be. But then it was easier for me than for many other people who care so much about societal rules and what others will think of them. Being intuitive and connected to Spiritual energy I knew there was more to life than negativity and as a spiritual warrior held my own truths.
When Sheryl wrote her first book Life Is No Coincidence: The Life and Afterlife Connection her editor Mary Carson who was the mother of eight children whose youngest had Down Syndrome was very much the product of a loving Christ Conscious Mindset and enjoyed experiences from the sublime to the ridiculous. Yet, Mary trusted and loved life just as it unfolded. Sheryl was inspired by her the way she looked at and moved through life.
Kari tells us an amusing story about her son as he was a bit of a kleptomanic taking things from the lost and found at school and Sheryl suggested he was just amused by touching and learning about the world and he didn’t mean to do anything wrong. Sheryl tells a challenging or heart breaking story from the book
It could have been the day Thorin had to leave Sherry and her family who had cared for him until Kari and Ward came to take him home. Ward carried a box with his clothes and toys and Sherry held his Playskool Sit and Spin Now it was time to leave. Kari had Thorin in her arms. They stood in a half circle next to the car and it was difficult to know what to do. We had all prepared him as best as we could letting him know he was coming to live with us. The three of us had tears in our eyes. Thorin’s eyes were dry and he was silent. I saw a look, a brief flash that he knew his life with Sherry was ending. Ward moved to the front seat to drive and I sat in the back next to Thorin. We made it to the end of the driveway and then Thorin “Let go.” His sobs were painful and angry. It was unbearable. He raised his arms above his head and brought them crashing down on the arm rests of the car seat.
This book chronicles one typical and not so typical family’s journey from adopting a child with Down Syndrome through the usual strains of domestic joy and commotion to dealing with the unexpected challenges of an educational system that deems your child less than other children and Kari and Ward’s need to turn to homeschooling as Thorin had many health and emotional issues being in a school situation. Kari’s story also captures the challenges of foster care adoption, the fast growing path to adoption by US parents. It’s told in a voice that celebrates the quirkiness of life and challenges the powers that be with subversive and sharp insight and humor…
Not Always Happy tackles the complex topic of foster care adoption, Down Syndrome/disability and homeschooling in a way that is wise humorous and authentic. For those reasons it would appeal to multiple audiences, parents who have children with Down Syndrome or other disabilities who cumulatively represent 15 percent of all children between the ages of three to seventeen; the growing number of homeschooling households who now number almost 2 million and families who have adopted from the foster care system: which makes up 59 percent of all adoptions-domestic and international in the US
As parents Kari and Ward may have reacted differently than some parents. Apart from all this love they seem to have in truckloads, there is something else they don’t have…what they lack is the belief seemingly universal in middle class status conscious primed for perfection America, that a child born with an intellectual difference—Down Syndrome, autism, Fragile X, whatever represents an unspeakable tragedy. A fate that promises only struggle, heartache and pain. I don’t mean to play down the challenges of bring a child into a world full of cruelty and ignorance. Or, the dread parents may fee if they believe they are not up to raising or loving a child with unexpected needs. But Kari and Ward somehow reacted differently when Thorin came into their lives…..they shrugged when they learned that their probable future son had Down Syndrome and said basically let’s get on with the adoption.
Kari and Ward share values of love and integrity that they bring to their parenting roles and the hope to help other families and our world communities which at the present time seem so separated from love and right thinking and intent on their own special needs or interests. Many are simply unaware that our souls have brought with them into life everything they need to refine and enlarge their capacity to love and no one is perfect: all expressions of life is as it should be and without judgment we may come to see the beauty and kindness in every soul as Kari saw in the that second grade teacher.
Sheryl goes on to say in her book the Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Love there was an approach, a fine way to view life and the uniqueness of every living soul on this planet and wrote, “Each of us is unique and we are on different karmic and energetic pursuits. As we learn to apply energetic laws and use them more consistently, we will help create a more harmonious world. Those who understand and live by these laws of energy will have less friction and fewer confrontations in their relationships. Individuals practicing the higher laws of spirit may share this expanding wisdom and state of harmony with others and be an influence for change as their behaviors and actions exhibit a positive energy state within and around them. Of course with great knowledge comes a greater responsibility to exchange these ideas with those who will listen.”
Sheryl discusses with Kari One of the most obvious laws of energy is The Law of Attraction..that which you give out into the world returns to you: So love brings love, and hate or anger brings more of that….Of course The Golden Rule…Do Unto Others as you would have Others do Unto to you is the same spiritual law. Often we may not receive results from where we expect to see it, but the energy of goodness, kindness, empathy and compassion resonate with those who may also begin to live according to Spiritual Energetic Laws and will benefit many. Kari Wagner Peck shares values that have brought much happiness to her own family and lets others know that simply by living with dignity and trust in the larger fabric of soul energy we can find happiness and individual success for life.
In summarizing today’s episode of Healing From Within we come once again to realize there is not only one way to find the extent of our hearts capacity to share compassion and love and not one type of family to meet the needs of our very diverse and unique human brotherhood. We see that parenting a child with a disability is really no different than parenting any other child. What may be different are the attitudes and obstacles that are encountered on the journey and that we as a united community for holistic health and growth need to improve.
This is not merely a story of raising a child with Down Syndrome for I believe everyone who is born into this world has exactly what they need to complete their own predesigned soul itinerary of destiny and life plan. When we focus on the energetic aspects of life we may grow to learn we can look past our differences and find the Oneness of our eternal life force energy that brings us together.
This is a story of divine intervention and how we meet the people we are supposed to in order for us each to have the greatest opportunities to find our true soul presence.Kari tells the story of being sent to a new pediatrician after a pulmonologist diagnosed Thorin with asthma.. and she told this story, ”Hello Thorin. I’m Dr. Peggy. After the exam the doctor turned her attention to me. The entire tone of the exam was positive toward Thorin . It was clear she assumed Thorin was competent and could participate. Toward the end of the exam she asked if we could talk privately. I must have looked alarmed. He’s okay. He’s great! I wanted to tell you that I know Thorin. “From before?” I asked. Yeah, from before. I was a resident at the hospital when he was brought in. I was part of his care team. He was so sick. He was a fighter. Everyone feel in love with him. When we found out he was going home we were worried. When I saw his name on my schedule today, I was so happy. I was relieved. I never stopped thinking about Thorin.” You’re supposed to be his doctor! I know!
This story is remarkable to Sheryl who has felt there is a bigger plan surrounding each of us and all of us and…..Nothing in life is random. There are reasons and a purpose to all that is happening. Sometimes difficult experiences bring us together with those who will help us grow and move through this life more comfortably. As a Reiki practitioner Sheryl has had many children and adults come to her in unusual ways and likes to think someone up there loves us and just wants to help us find people who can help us discover more about our spiritual energy and achieve our greatest soul growth.
Kari and Sheryl would have you venture out of standard approved ways of looking at family and life to see that in the unusual circumstances, hardships, or challenges we may find our greatest opportunity for both human and divine growth. Engage it all without judgment and with hope that if we ask and allow for help we will have it.
Guest: Kari Wagner-Peck