When Cindy adopted PJ, he had just been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that is often misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy. Cindy has humbly served developmentally disabled people for as long as she can remember. But she never thought that she would be the one asking for help.
Cindy adopted PJ when he was just eight years old. He was one of her students back then, and when she found out he was in foster care and available for adoption, she instantly knew she wanted him to be her son. “I never got married and never had my own kids, and had given up on the fact that I would. I was 36, and felt like I was running out of time. My mom warned me that I was making a lifetime commitment, but I was just ready. I wanted to be a mother,” Cindy remembers.
After much skepticism and caution from friends and family, Cindy officially adopted PJ on April 14th, 1995. They were a team from day one, doing everything together and living life as mother and son. Cindy continued substitute teaching while PJ attended public school. Until he turned 21. “Our allocated money from the government dropped significantly when PJ turned 21. He was only in a day program three days a week,” she explains.
Cindy continues: “I was paying more in childcare than I was bringing home, so I stopped substitute teaching. We slowly, for six years, used our savings up and got further into debt. At that point, we moved into a three bedroom apartment so I could become a host for other adults with special needs to make money. I planned to provide respite care to parents who wanted a weekend away, or have an adult come live with us and become their care provider.”
When those plans fell through, they began living out of their van, relying on the kindness of friends for a place to sleep and shower. “It was really frustrating for me. I never regretted my decision to adopt PJ, but I had no idea why it was so rough. Everything was financial. I don’t have addiction issues or anything like that. But through it all, PJ remained stable, and I was so thankful that he found stability in me rather than in our circumstances,” Cindy says.
This wasn’t the life she pictured for herself when she adopted PJ. And it certainly wasn’t the life she thought he deserved. So Cindy began to look at supported housing options. After being turned away from countless facilities, she found the STAR program at The Crossing. She got on the waitlist and moved in less than a month later.
“My expenses were one third of what they were before we moved there. I could take a deep breath and finally save money. I concentrated on getting my debt paid off, and that really helped us,” explains Cindy.
She leaned on the staff and into the community, learning how to budget her finances and build necessary relationships. “I’m grateful for the friendships that I’ve made there. I even have a mentor now, and we will continue our relationship as PJ and I transition back into the real world. I loved the volunteers there, too. What really blessed me is the families that came down—it’s incredible that they would devote their lives to others,” Cindy says gratefully.
One of the most difficult challenges of living at The Crossing for Cindy was learning how to ask for help. She says: “God has really taken care of us. It’s been really humbling. I was always the one who had it together. I was a caregiver. But I came to a place where I realized, ‘I don’t have it together.’”
It was through that realization that Cindy learned how to truly depend on God and His provision in their lives. “God did and continues to open doors. I don’t have to be in control. I’ve learned that He is here, and He is faithful,” she says.
Cindy and PJ graduated from the program in July and have already moved into their own apartment! Cindy is equipped with new budgeting knowledge and a stronger faith in the Lord’s provision. She is looking for jobs she can do from home so she can continue to provide the care that PJ needs. She feels ready for this step into their new life and is happy to have their own space again!
Thank you for standing in the gap for families who need time to transition from homelessness to permanent housing. We couldn’t do what we do without your support!
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Cindy and PJ's story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Changing Lives titled "Giving and Receiving."
Also in this issue:
- Letter from the CEO
- Denver Rescue Mission Golf Tournament
- Thank you Bimbo Bakeries
- Community Table