This past weekend, CBS Sunday Morning aired a piece entitled “Where’s Molly?” It is the story of a very special reunion between a man and his younger sister – after 47 years apart. Jeff Daly’s sister, Molly, was sent to an institution in 1957 shortly before her third birthday; Jeff was five years old at the time. Watch the video below, or you can visit the CBS website here.
The story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I found myself asking “Why…?” and “How did they…?” and a hundred other questions, and I could go on for hours telling you what I think. In the interest of getting the kids to the Bass Pro Shop tonight in order to see Santa, however, I’ll just focus on one aspect.
The Daly parents loved and cared for their other two children, so it’s hard to believe that they didn’t also love Molly. The father even visited a great deal through the years (though you’ll see in the video that he did so in an unconventional way). The mother visited only once – I don’t know what kept her away, but I can only imagine that she endured great emotional pain throughout the rest of her life.
Back in those days, medical “experts” recommended that parents place disabled children in institutions because they would be “better off” and because it would be “better for the family.” These doctors probably weren’t monsters; they probably believed they were providing sound advice. History has shown, though, that those medical professionals were wrong. Very wrong.
I could, at length, draw parallels between the institutions of yesterday and the high percentage of abortions of babies with Down syndrome today, but I’ll leave it at that one statement for now. Instead, I’ll focus on “experts”. I’ve known many wonderful physicians, nurses, and therapists over the years, and I don’t intend to disparage them in any way. What I want to do instead is to remind anyone who might read this that no matter how much education or experience these people have, they don’t know your child like you do. In our society, we tend to place a great deal of faith in doctors to know all of the answers. We need to remember that they are just people. People who do their best, but still just people. Imperfect people.
Who do you trust with your children’s care? Trust yourself.