by Dr. Karleen Pendleton Jiménez
Lucinda Hage wanted a baby, a child to love and raise, to build her family. One day the phone rang, a private adoption was offered to her, and she became the mother of a beautiful baby boy she named Paul. The lawyer who presented the baby to her proclaimed confidently that this child would reach his full potential in her arms. A year later Paul suffered seizures and was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis. Experts informed Lucinda that he would always have a “serious intellectual disability,” limiting his ability to learn in school, and contribute to his community.
Certainly Paul has faced frustration and struggle in working through the dimensions of his (dis)ability. However, I would say the memoir reveals the much more difficult challenge of educating his community, teachers, peers, and employers. Hage conveys with honesty and humility the tremendous work of mothering involved when fighting stigma against persons with (dis)abilities. What happens when you go to a restaurant and your child makes uncommon sounds and the other patrons blame the mother and child? What happens when schools wish to segregate your child from his peers? What happens when the government refuses to pay the support that your son needs to thrive within his community? What happens when your spouse can no longer bear the stress? Lucinda invites us into her home, into the everyday dilemmas, into her doubts on the hardest days, and into her faith and pride on the better ones.
As a professor of education I have the opportunity to include this book in my courses. I highly recommend that teachers, parents, employers, counselors, etc. read and discuss this book to help create more inclusive communities. You will learn first-hand the misunderstandings that can harm young people. You will learn what kinds of programs can be created to foster belonging.
I was honoured by the trust she offered me as a reader, and then I was inspired by both her creative community networking and activism in the schools. This is a story about families finding each other and helping one another. This is a story about generosity and innovation. This is a story about a mother actually changing the system because her son deserved to be treated as a whole person. This is a story about a mother who has helped her son reach his “full potential”.
Dr. Karleen Pendleton Jiménez
School of Education