Contributed by Angelika Dawson
When Kelly talks about her daughter Jadacey, her face softens, her eyes light up, she smiles.
“Everything about her is a gift. I love her so much,” she says. “She makes me appreciate so much in life. We’ve had a hard life but she’s made me stronger.”
That strength has been honed over the eleven years of Jadacey’s young life and is borne out of the fierce love Kelly has for her daughter. Kelly has been a single mom since Jadacey was born. Being a single parent can be challenging at the best of times but Kelly has had the added challenges of Jadacey’s complex care needs.
When Jadacey was born there was nothing to suggest that she wasn’t a healthy baby girl. Kelly took her to the doctor for regular visits and although she wasn’t reaching developmental milestones at the same rate as other children, her doctors never expressed a high concern. But at 6 months, Jadacey had a seizure that sent Kelly racing to the hospital. After weeks of testing, she was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. The seizure activity in her brain has had an effect on her development. Jadacey is not mobile and she is non-verbal, although she does communicate with sounds. She needs around-the-clock, specialized care.
Kelly tried going back to work, leaving Jadacey with an aide. When the aide was unable to provide consistent care, Kelly found herself struggling to find a replacement. She ended up losing her job. Kelly decided that she’d have to go on social assistance and provide Jadacey’s care on her own. But as a single mom, whose family is far away, even that became too much.
“I found that I was getting so exhausted that I wasn’t waking up at night when she needed me,” Kelly recalls. “There were days when I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. I realized that I wasn’t able to give her the care I wanted to give her and that it would be selfish of me to try and continue.”
Kelly fought to keep Jadacey out of foster care, certain that her needs were so complex that even two parents would burn out. That’s when she found Matthew’s House.
Matthew’s House supports families by providing individualized respite care in a homelike environment for children who live with complex care needs. Respite care gives parents a much needed break to rest and rejuvenate. The primary function of Matthew’s House is to provide temporary respite care for families. Where long term care is needed, as is the case with Jadacey, the staff at Matthew’s House work with the family and the service provider to arrange for that care. Kelly says Matthew’s House has made an enormous difference.
“This place has been a huge blessing in our lives,” Kelly says. “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Matthew’s House. Everyone here is amazing. I haven’t met one (staff) person here that I don’t like or trust. They all have a passion for taking care of children. I love that the staff love her so much, it makes me feel so happy.”
While it was hard for Kelly to leave Jadacey at Matthew’s House at first, the exceptional care and love that her daughter receives has made her feel at ease.
Matthew’s House has been good for Kelly too. She no longer feels as isolated or exhausted as she did. She is still very involved in Jadacey’s life, visiting her regularly to read to her, take her for walks, give her hugs and shower her with love. Having this vital support has enabled Kelly to think about the future. She’d like to get back to work and earn her own living again. She’s considering going back to school.
When asked if she has hope for Jadacey’s future, Kelly’s answer is firm.
“Yes. I can’t give up hope for her, of course I can imagine a future for her,” she says. “The love I have for Jadacey is so strong, I’ve never felt anything like this before. I’m always trying, hoping, praying for the best for my daughter.”