On and off this month, I've been blogging about my brother in law, "B",who has autism. He is in his 50's. I had intended to blog part of this month about our experiences (my spouse and I) trying to advocate for him, with the possibility of one day writing an e-book to help others in a similar situation.. I ended up blogging more about him personally, so you, my readers, could get to know him a little better.
Now, it's time to return to describing our advocacy efforts. Some of what follows is a repeat of a blog post from May - May of 2013. It's taken all of this time to get to where we are today.
For all his life, "B" has been cared for by his mother. It's time for the big step of "what
comes after his Mom". She is in her mid-80's, and eventually,
will no longer be able to care for him. Or, worse-the inevitable will
happen and she will leave this Earth forever. Last November, she was diagnosed with cancer. It was caught early, and was considered curable with the proper treatment.
She received that treatment earlier this year, and the prognosis is good. Right now, she is in remission. This could have had such a different outcome. And, that is what we must think about now.
The fact is: "B" does not have a guardian.
heaven forbid, she died tomorrow, this is the future the State of New York
has prepared for my brother in law and other disabled individuals
without a guardian, according to a knowledgeable person we consulted last year. (Note, this is not legal advise, and this may not happen in states other than New York. I am not a law professional.) Because, right now, "B" doesn't have a guardian, the following would happen:
1. He becomes a ward of New York State;
2. He can't stay where he lives (if his Mom died, he's the only other person living in the house)
because he would be alone, and the state will not allow that. He
is deemed to need 24 hour supervision, and the state can't provide 24 hour
supervision where he lives now So housing must be found for him;
3. the court appoints an "advocate"
for him, and it is potluck - could be anyone - maybe a person that doesn't
know my brother in law at all;
4. Then the State finds emergency housing
for him - "first available bed" which could be something not
at all appropriate for his disability, but too bad.
And, by refusing the placement, it may be years before another opportunity comes up.
We found we couldn't help him without someone becoming his guardian.
People with autism, in the best
circumstances, find it difficult to cope with any type of change. And
this, to use a cliche, would be the mother (no pun intended) of all
ago, my mother in law told us last year, she and her husband (dead some 15 years now) were advised to apply for guardianship. Her husband elected to ignore
this advice. After he died, she saw a lawyer and certain other
documents were drawn up but again, guardianship never happened.
The blessing is, my mother in law is
still alive. "B" is blessed in that he has a family who cares for him.
We are finding that a lot of older men and women in that situation are
all alone. No one cares.
So, last summer, my spouse and "B"'s other brother saw a lawyer and started the process for my spouse applying for guardianship for his brother. In New York, the process is not easy, and it took a long time to get all the pieces together. It's been an adventure, and today, our petition is finally going to be heard by a judge in Surrogate Court, in the county where "B" and my mother in law reside. This is all with my mother in law's blessing. In fact, spouse could not have done it without her blessing.
My spouse's next oldest brother will be the guardian if anything happens to my spouse where he can no longer serve as guardian. Then, one other sibling (the only one younger than "B") will take over if anything happens to both of them. In this way, my brother in law will have someone helping him throughout his life. Or, at least, that's the hope.
Let's hope the court hearing goes well today. Today has literally been a year in the making. I hope to blog more about the exact process we went through in the near future, and describe whatever happens today.
Tomorrow, my last Spring Things as we prepare further for the future. Thursday, I will have another gardening post. Friday, hopefully, I will be able to report good news.