image1Hi my name is Danielle. I live in Cloverdale, BC, with my son, Keith, who will be 7 years old in May.

I want to share my journey of motherhood. I want to talk about both the struggles and the joys of being a mom.

I want people to see that even though I am a person with a disability it is still possible to be seen as someone who can be a parent just like anyone else.

We have the right to be parents just like we have the right to get married and vote and have a job and do anything else.

The sky is the limit. I became pregnant with my son in 2008. At first I was shocked, scared, and then really happy.

I had always wanted a baby, but didn’t think I could because I had always heard that it wasn’t the best for people with developmental disabilities to have kids.

My parents were very concerned about how I would manage if I had children.

And I had heard a lot of stories about kids being taken away from parents who had disabilities.

But what I have learnt is that hard work and dedication can pay off. We all have our own stories and no one’s story is better than someone else’s.

I loved being pregnant. It helped me bond with my son. The immediate feeling of love I had when I found out I was pregnant was over whelming and when I saw him on my first ultrasound it made it become more real.

From that ultrasound to hearing his heart beat, to feeling his kicks inside me, his birth, the first time I saw and held him close and to this very day

I am amazed at how strong a mother’s love really is.

When Keith was 4 months old Ministry for Children and Family Development told me they had concerns and I had to do a Parental Capacity Assessment. I did not feel empowered, it was terrifying.

At this time I was going through Post Partum depression which made the assessment a lot harder.

I had to agree to live with my mom too live with my son. I didn’t lose custody, but my mom became his “primary caregiver”.

I felt less of a mother, like they stole him from me. I couldn’t make final decisions for him. It didn’t feel right, I felt violated.

I wanted to be the one to make decisions. Even though my mom was the “primary caregiver” on paper, I was still his mother and did what a mother should for their child.

My parents separated in 2013. My son, and I moved to Cloverdale and my mom moved in with us soon after.

My mom was going through a hard time and I felt she should not have been the right fit to be his “primary caregiver”.

So in July last year, with encouragement, I moved out on my own with my son, to take him into a better environment.

I worked with the ministry too make sure they knew what I was doing and they were very supportive.

Moving into my own place with my son was empowering. It was what I wanted from the beginning.

I am able to live independently with Keith and with support from MCFD and CLBC, they helped me find a place.

I’ve been on my own now for almost 8 months. I’m feeling independent and stronger.

What I love most about being Keith’s mom is taking care of him and knowing that I am responsible for keeping him safe and happy, looking into his big blue eyes and knowing that he is still my baby boy and always will be.

Leaving my mom was one of the hardest things I ever had too do. I knew it would hurt her tremendously but I had to take hold of my independence with my son.

I grew up very attached to her. I love her, but this decision was empowering and not all empowering decisions are easy.