This letter was written by the birth mother of a boy born with special needs in the 1940’s. It was sent along with her son as he was being sent to Woodlands, an institution in Burnaby. Back then parents were urged to give up parental rights and put their disabled children in institutions. They were told it was the best thing for everyone and for the child’s best interest there should be no further contact. Thankfully we have moved past these beliefs in BC but I think these conditions and pressures are still very prevalent in Eastern Europe. I will have little to no information on my daughters birth family but this letter has softened my attitude towards them. I believe that they loved her. They did the best thing they knew how to do for her. They listened to the advice of the doctors and placed her in a place that they believed would care for her specific needs better then they themselves would be able to do. I am so thankful that my daughter’s mother did make that choice. She will have a better life because her mother made that selfless, difficult decision…
To Those In Whose Hands God Has Placed My Darling son,
This is just a few lines to outline to you some of my little boys habits. I do hope you don’t mind my writing this to you.
I have put his name on all his clothes, which he has plenty of for the time being. This is the first time I have been parted from him and it seems very terrible to me just now, and yet I know it is all for the best. I understand him so well and have loved doing everything for him for so long but my strength has given out and so now I must leave the rest to God.
He talks to me quite a bit with his eyes, but does say these few words: Ma Ma, Da Da, car, cow, I go out now, Ma Ma up, Bow Wow, Ball Boat, Walk, Nan Na meaning his granny, and when he wants a drink he says Ma instead of milk.
I have had him trained since he was two years old, and put him to the toilet every morning as soon as he is awake and mostly once or twice in the middle of the night when he wants to go he can’t say it but looks down and kicks his legs and when he wants a drink of water at night he opens his mouth wide. I always had terrible trouble with his bowels right from when he was a baby, and so I have given him two tablespoons of mineral oil every night along with the same amount of Cod Liver Oil every night of this life and even then he only has a bowel movement every second night before he is washed for the night. After breakfast I dress him and put him right in his walker which he calls his car car and he is in it until lunch time, after that a little rest and in it again until supper time, and then after that I prepare him for bed, but he loves his walker and I do hope you will let him be in it a lot, except of course when he isn’t well.
He was ruptured when very small from crying so much but this has never seemed to bother him as I have never let him cry very much. If he is naughty I just wheel him in another room and shut the door and in five minutes he has cried it out and is alright again. He is very patient and I hope you will all love him and that he gets adapted to his surroundings quickly. I am sure he will be happier once he gets used to your ways: I quite understand that he is not the only child to be cared for, that there are so many, and am only writing this because I cannot face bringing him all the way their and I thought these would be a few things you might have asked me if I had come. If there is ever anything you want me to send to him please let me know. I am packing a can of Hot Chocolate in his suit case as he loves that or cocoa but don’t drink much milk except cream on his porridge in the morning. He eats and likes practically anything except he doesn’t digest cabbage or corn very well, and does not chew his food quite as he should. I have really mashed up everything which I know I shouldn’t have done.
I am sending along his toys for him to share with the others. I do hope he is allowed to play with them and have others amuse him.
My dear mother and my husband are bringing him and would you please let me know how he is from time to time and please let me know when you transfer him to New Westminster.
I am also sending along his story books he loves being read to and three little pictures to hand at the head of his bed, if you had been short of cribs he has a lovely white one he could have shipped over their, as I know there are so many little patients and I have lots of nice bedding for him, if you could use his own little crib let me know.
I really must close now. I didn’t intend to take up so much of your valuable time reading my long letter but I wanted to make things a little easier by explaining.
Thanking you all in advance for caring for my darling son,
One thought on “The Letter”
This breaks my heart. My grandmother was one of the women who sent her son away because of Down Syndrome and both passed away before I could ever meet them.
Congratulations on your baby! Very exciting. The room looks beautiful.