Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 13, 2024 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
A teenager in limbo ....

A chapter in the book Jonathan's Story

Does anybody care?

by Wendy G

Last chapter: I had “kidnapped” my severely disabled foster son of nine years and brought him back to my home when the Department of Community Services was planning to take him from his school and leave him indefinitely in a country motel, to be cared for by a rotating series of workers who knew nothing about his complex care and needs.


I was in a state of shock. All sorts of crazy ideas flashed through my mind.

I would expose this potential mistreatment of Jonathan. I would show up the inadequacy of DOCS. I’d do whatever it took.

I would go on one of those current affairs programs on national television if I had to. My personality is normally quiet and reserved, but I knew I would not sit back and docilely let this happen. Would there be any interest in such a story? Would the public feel the same outrage as I did? Would anybody really care? I had no idea.

My mind was racing. I would hate being on television; I’d hate every moment of the whole process. I would embarrass myself and be an embarrassment to my family also.

I was upset, angry, and frustrated. I’d had enough. I was worn down. Emotionally and physically exhausted.


Other thoughts zig-zagged through my frazzled mind as well. Had I committed a criminal offence?


Furthermore, would I be on a current affairs program for this reason?

“Respected teacher kidnaps student!”

I tried to picture myself being hauled before the court system and taken off to jail for kidnapping. Then what would happen to Jonathan? And what would happen to my family? My imagination was not helpful.

My next thoughts were probably more rational. Hadn’t Jonathan been placed in MY care until he was eighteen? Perhaps it was the DOCS workers who had tried to take him away surreptitiously?

Who exactly was ultimately responsible for his well-being? His birth mother? His foster mother? DOCS?


Regardless, I did not regret bringing him home. But I also needed reassurance that he would not be snatched from my home. I would be back at school on Monday. What was I to do with him? Dare I send him to his school, or would the DOCS workers come back for him? I would have to take leave perhaps. I wanted safety and security for Jonathan, and ongoing appropriate care for him. Was that really too much to ask? What would it take to get justice for him?


That evening, my husband had a brilliant idea. He’s very level-headed and has little tolerance for incompetence or injustice. We discussed his thoughts, and his idea was indeed a very sensible and rational one.

The next morning was Saturday, so we bundled Jonathan into his wheelchair and paid a visit to the office of our local member of parliament, whom I shall call Mrs L. One of her portfolios? DOCS. She was the person in charge of this malfunctioning department.

Did we have an appointment? No.

Did I care? No.

On reflection, it was nothing short of miraculous that she was in her office on a Saturday morning.

She would listen to our story, and she would do something!She must have been quite startled – but to her credit, she did not react negatively.

I had no plan. I had no idea what I expected her to do. I just wanted her to cancel the ridiculous “new home” plan her subordinates had contrived. I think I just wanted her to listen, to acknowledge, and to understand why this could not and must not happen. Not for Jonathan.

And she did – she listened carefully as I filled her in, not only on the last couple of days but on the previous nine years.

She could see my distress at the decision her department had made. She could see that they had not supported us for all these years. She could see by looking at Jonathan that his support needs were extremely high. She could see too that the DOCS solution – living in a motel with no one able to manage his disabilities was impossible.

Finally, she asked how she could best help us. She was kind, sympathetic, and most of all, she understood. She said that because it was the weekend, she could not do anything immediately, but she would see to it first thing the following Monday morning.

I was thankful for her words, but I was worried. I would have to manage, with my painful back – but I would manage! I was not giving in on this.

On Sunday afternoon, there was a knock at the front door.

To my alarm, the visitor was from DOCS.

Perhaps he saw the fear and distress in my face – he hastened to reassure me that he was acting on the request of the Minister, Mrs L. He was one of her most senior advisors.

Mrs L had already been busy, and he was there to organise daily support for me with lifting and bathing Jonathan every day, and to help in whatever ways possible until his future was clarified and organised in a way which pleased me.

He also told me that Jonathan’s school bus had been cancelled by the other DOCS workers as it was too far for him to go to school from the hills area.

How dare they also cancel his transport to school? The end of a schooling program for him? No good-byes to his friends or staff?  Just there one day, and gone the next? Never!

He would be sitting alone in a motel room every day? Doing nothing? It was too steep and hilly an area for him to even be taken for a walk in his wheelchair! With not a soul that he knew, and not a soul who knew him. And being non-verbal, he could not explain a single detail of his care or needs.

The more I thought about their stupidity and callousness, the more my distress and disillusionment resurfaced.

However, this man, like Mrs L, was both kind and competent. He had on his own initiative already organised for Jonathan to be collected each morning from our home in a wheelchair taxi, to be taken to school, and brought home again in the afternoon. This would have cost a considerable sum.  I did not care.

Looking back, I have the utmost respect for Mrs L and for this man. Wisdom and kindness are two values I like and respect. I also value those who are committed to their work and to problem solving.   They had both chosen to forego their weekend to jump through hoops to look after us. Perhaps they were also worried about what would happen if these events were made public.

I am sure that they would have also chosen to look more closely at the way this particular portfolio was being managed, or perhaps mismanaged.

The extra support started within a couple of days.

Jonathan was to remain in limbo for nearly six months. 


And so we continued, struggling on.

Soon came the news that a placement was available in a disability service which provided comfortable and suitable accommodation and an interesting Day Program for young adults as well. Would we be interested in checking it out?

We were assured it was a lovely place, and there were others with complex needs similar to those of Jonathan.

By this time, I was very discouraged, disillusioned, and cynical. I refused to believe what anyone else told me. I’d been let down too many times.

“He will only be placed there if both Sheryl and I have full confidence in the service,” I declared.

It seemed that, far from checking out a number of potential places and choosing the best for Jonathan, the reality was that a good disability service was rare, and places available were even more scarce. There might not be much choice.

I was determined by now that I would continue to advocate for Jonathan, no matter the personal cost. I’d made a commitment, and I would fulfil it.

He had become my child as much as Sheryl’s, but not by birth. By love. I would not let him down.

We were both his “real” mothers.


Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2024. Wendy G All rights reserved.
Wendy G has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.