Today I have been seeing families in Bucharest, Romania. This is my second of eight days of seeing children and families here. I arrived in Bucharest after seeing children in Barcelona and London. Between these three cities I will have seen families from many different countries. All of these families have children with developmental issues; all of these families are dedicated to their children; and all of these families are assuming responsibility for their children and their children’s futures. They are all exceptional and can serve as models for parents and families everywhere, not just families of children with issues, but all families.
In all of my years of travel, seeing children and working with and through families, there is one glaring truth. Wherever the families live, whatever their nationality, whatever their heritage, whatever form of government they live under, whether the family is defined as one parent or two, as only one child or a house full, grandparents or extended family in the home, whatever constitutes the family, they are all united in the care of and dedication to their children and the assumption of responsibility for their children. These families are not looking for their governments to do the job; they rather universally only ask that the government stay out of their way. These are dedicated parents who are absolutely amazingly alike.
In the seventies I was the clinical director of a large United Cerebral Palsy organization. I received grants from the state and federal governments and created model programs and was by most definitions quite successful producing significantly better results than other schools or agencies. But I came to a realization: that whatever I was able to provide for those children within our school and clinics, it was not enough. I also realized that the governments were never going to have the funds to give the children enough, and that expectations were not based on potential, but on the economic realities of what the system could afford to give, and that over time everyone bought into and accepted this distortion of reality and potential. Actually, not everyone–not the families I have been working with all these years. The families who say, “This is my child, this is my son, this is my daughter and I am responsible. I am going to help my child be all they can be. Help me or get out of my way.”
So on this International Day of Families, I am happy to offer up our NACD families from all over the world as models for what families can and should be. All of us at NACD are privileged to be able to know and assist these fantastic families.