I guess there are worse reasons to take your eighteen-year-old son to court, BUT today was a tough day.
When a person turns 18, they legally become an adult and are expected to make decisions about their life – medical treatment, finances, education, etc. Guardianship is a legal proceeding in which the court is asked to find the person in question unable to manage his/her affairs effectively. A guardian (or guardians) is/are appointed to make all decisions on behalf of the person.
Today Dan, Jack and I went to court to prove to the State of NJ that Jack is too disabled to care for himself. He is too limited to make decisions regarding his care and well-being. He is (and will always be) dependent on us. Heartbreaking.
Like most heartbreaking things having to do with Jack – it was Jack that made it bearable. He was in a great mood this morning as we got him scrubbed and ready to make a good impression on the judge. He smiled the whole way to Newark, eager to see his buddy Adam (our lawyer) and to meet a few new friends. Jack always loves an adventure.
When we told Jack it was going to be like Law and Order he didn’t seem impressed, but when Dan said, “I wonder if Judge Judy works here”, our boy laughed and laughed. It’s hard to take things too seriously when you have Jack chuckling next to you, but when we needed to go in front of the judge, I could feel the tears start filling my eyes.
Everything went off without a hitch. We just needed to sit as the judge read through all the paperwork – proof that Jack needs us to be his legal guardians (doctor’s notes, school information, interviews with us and others who know Jack). I did my best to ignore the details of Jack’s limitations get repeated over and over again. I’ve developed a talent of keeping a smile on my face and nodding politely as I block out information. Dan’s bruised hand was the only evidence that any of the words actually made it to my ears.
I’ve accepted Jack’s challenges and understand that, as a special family, we need to do this stuff. The only thing that really bothered me about the whole experience today was the use of the word, incapacitated. It was used through the hearing over and over and over again.
Ivan did not expect to be incapacitated for more than a few days: disabled, debilitated, indisposed, unfit, impaired; immobilized, paralyzed, out of action, out of commission, hors de combat; informal laid up. ANTONYMS fit.
I know that words need to be attached to circumstances, but of all things to call Jack — incapacitated is not one I would ever use. He’s more full of life than anyone I know. I understand that he needs (and will likely always need) our care, but as I heard that word I couldn’t help but want to stand up and scream “I OBJECT!”
I didn’t – I played the role of calm mom and didn’t even let myself even cry until I kissed Dan goodbye and dropped Jack safely off at school. I am so #$%^ing glad that it’s over.
Love, Jess (proud guardian of JackO)