“Little did we know in October of 2020 when we started this journey of Kiersten gaining her independence what a blessing
it would be not only for her but for our entire family.”
~ Jen, Kiersten’s mom
FROM NO HOPE TO A LIFE OF HOPE:
When Kiersten was in middle school, we were told by her teacher that she would be a great candidate for a group home someday. That day was one of the worst days of our lives.
Kiersten was born two months premature and spent the first six months of her life in the NICU. She has a diagnosis of a rare form of muscular dystrophy, cognitive impairments, and anxiety. We were told by her medical team from the beginning that she would never walk, talk, or ever be much more than an infant in the cognitive sense. When Kiersten was in middle school, we were told by her teacher that she would be a great candidate for a group home someday. That day was one of the worst days of our lives. It was on that day that we made a choice to, not only move her from that school, but to push Kiersten to be the best that she could be, and were perfectly content with her living with us forever.
Kiersten completed high school through Rockford Public Schools at the age of 26. We had her working with Community Living Supports to volunteer in many different areas to try and give her a fulfilling life. In true Kiersten form, she had other plans. Kiersten has always been strong willed and has a faith that we can only be jealous of. At her yearly planning session in May of 2020 during COVID, Kiersten again expressed to us and her coordinator that she wanted to move out and be independent. She was our last child at home and had watched her siblings move out, go to college, get jobs, and live their own lives. This was always a difficult conversation for us as a family because we did not want to hold her back, but felt strongly about her not moving into a group home. Kiersten’s coordinator began telling us about Homes Giving Hope and what they were all about.
Reluctantly, we began the process of applying for Kiersten to be a resident of Homes Giving Hope in following months. For parents with a child with unique abilities it becomes difficult to put your worries, fears, and feelings of abandonment, and concerns of rejection aside and push forward to do what you know is best for your child and your family. From the moment we walked through the door at HGH and met with members of the team, we felt the love and acceptance in the home. The morals and values of HGH aligned with our family’s, and we knew if this was going to happen for Kiersten, God would open doors for her.
FROM DEPENDENCE TO INDEPENDENCE:
Since moving out in October Kiersten has gained so much confidence in herself and her abilities. Homes Giving Hope has just enough support to guide her, but also allows her to grow in her abilities.
Before moving into Homes Giving Hope, Kiersten was not able to go in public on her own, and now is able to go to the library and the grocery store with little to no assistance. She is able to plan her weeks how she would like to spend them and is not limited to having to do what her parents are doing. She is meeting with groups of peers and has joined a church group that meets during the school year. She is now working with an external job coach to potentially gain employment, something she was not at all open to before.
FROM FAMILY GUILT TO FAMILY FREEDOM:
She didn’t even miss us!
As for her father and I, we took a vacation in January with just the two of us and, although we had done this in the past, this was different. We were not concerned about Kiersten and having our other family members rushing around to help take care of her needs and, believe it or not, she did not even miss us! We can do things with our other children that Kiersten maybe was not interested in doing without having to feel like we are leaving her out.
FROM SORROW AND LONELINESS TO GREAT JOY AND FRIENDSHIPS:
Often Kiersten will tell us she is too busy to hang out with us! What a bittersweet thing to have her say.
As with all our children you never stop worrying about them, but Homes Giving Hope has given us something we never dreamed possible, and we will forever be grateful for the opportunity they have given to our family.
Travis and Jen