I had been requested by a woman with Down Syndrome that I had come into acquaintance with to attend a meeting with her father and her sister. Her mother had passed away a few years earlier and the passage through grief had brought them all closer together. There was resistance to my being there, but she was a strong self advocate and stood her ground. Besides herself there would be her family, a social worker from her agency, and me.
Or more accurately, love with the possibility of sex.
As a young woman she was romantic. She dreamed of a boyfriend, of a wedding and of a life beyond that with the man she loved. These dreams were tolerated, not supported, until she met a man. She was in love. That’s where I came in, she knew that I had worked for many years in sexuality and that I believe that people with disabilities have a right to a full adult rights.
When I was introduced to her dad, all he said was, “I googled you.”
Immediately I wondered what he had found, I hadn’t done that for a little while. But he would find what he would I’m not ashamed of my body of work.
The meeting went as anticipated, except for the fact that I had nothing to say. She had invited me to help speak the case for love, but she was doing that just find on her own. She knew what she wanted and she knew she loved her boyfriend and she was determined that this relationship would grow.
Father and sister were equally adamant that the relationship be stopped ‘before more harm was done.’ She clearly couldn’t handle an adult relationship and didn’t understand the full implications of love.
It all ended with her bursting from the room in tears. ‘You talk, talk, talk, but you never listen, listen, listen,’
It was now that they all looked at me and asked me for a professional opinion. I said that the woman who had been at the meeting, the woman who had plead her case, was articulate and clear about what she wanted. She wanted love from her boyfriend and she wanted the relationship to be supported and celebrated by her family. In no way did I notice a deficit in her ability to be family.
I asked the dad one question, “Wasn’t your daughter born with a hole in her heart?”
“Yes,” he said, thrown by the change in topic,, “but she had that fixed.”
“Oh,” I said.
“What do you mean ‘Oh’?” he was annoyed.
“Well, I’m wondering why you want to put another hole in her heart? It seems like you are upset because it’s working properly.”
I was asked to leave.
Yesterday’s mail brought me an invitation to her wedding.