Joanna, God's Special Child by George Mavridis 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by George Mavridis
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Joanna, God's Special Child by George Mavridis
George Mavridis
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Richard Cardinal Cushing, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston in the 1950s, referred to individuals with mental retardation as "God's special children." Joanna was one of those children, and this is the story of her mother's desire, her extended family's determination, and a surrogate parent's will to give a profoundly intellectually disabled family member the best life possible. Joanna was only 15 years old when her mother died prematurely during a heart operation. Three generations of her family worked with military precision to care for their orphaned teenage family member until Joanna's death as a senior citizen. Family members monitored Joanna's care at the Fernald Developmental Center. They brought Joanna home a few days per week for home cooking, leisure time, day trips, and inclusion in special family events. And they monitored her pension benefits so she could enjoy all the neighborhood functions possible from her Fernald condominium-like apartment. Over the years, Joanna's cousin George became a surrogate brother and then a surrogate parent to her. George had been active with several family member advocacy organizations, where he gained the knowledge to assist with Joanna's care. When Joanna's Down syndrome became Alzheimer's, George was there, every day, to make her last few years as comfortable as possible. His book not only chronicles the love and dedication of one family-it also contains a wealth of information and resources for those caring for their own "special child of God."

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