Daughters of Fortune: The Exhibition - Mind the Gap

Paige: Daughters of Fortune

Daughters of Fortune: The Exhibition

These stories are extracts from interviews with parents with learning disabilities from the North of England; sometimes joyful, sometimes harrowing. They contain references to: parenthood, disability, love, loss of a child, physical and sexual abuse, partnership, trauma, life. Some readers may find some of the content upsetting.

Below you will find short versions of these stories. To read the full stories, you can download the booklet which accompanies the exhibition here…

Daughters of Fortune: The Exhibition first appeared in Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne as part of Great Exhibition of the North in summer 2018

With thanks to Geordie Mums, The Lawnmowers, Bradford People First and CHANGE.
Commissioned by Great Exhibition of the North.

I wanted to live my life

I wanted to wait. She wanted kids. We split up. Then she came to Bradford looking for me; she was pregnant. I was a bit shocked at first.  I wasn’t angry. I was a bit mixed up.

But when the baby was born I was over the moon. I was very happy.

Just look at her now

When I was young I always wanted children. The first conversation I had with my boyfriend about children he was like, ‘Are you nuts? We’re not ready to have kids.’  We were told something like one in ten Aspergers people were allowed to keep their baby. I was determined we’d be the one in ten!

I felt like a failure

John: There was a meeting at the hospital with Social Services, foster parents.  It had all been set up without us knowing and she had to actually hand the baby over to them.

Sharon: We didn’t get a chance to take him home.  I can’t understand why they had to do it. I think it’s because I’ve got learning difficulties. I felt like a failure.

I've never walked away

All the problems started when he was three. He used to hoy things, bite, scratch, bang his head. My mam helped a lot. They wanted to take him away at six but she says, ‘No, we’ll give it two years up to eight.’ Now he’s in supported living. I’ve never walked away from him.

I went back to an empty house

I had three children all with different needs. Wanting me. My husband used to control us and beat us up. They knew I was struggling and I asked for help but they didn’t listen. I had to go to court and put them into fostering. They said it was only temporary.

Nobody would hear you

My solicitor said, ‘Agree with everything they say, or the kids’ll get adopted and you’ll never see them again.’ It was a very, very difficult time. Nobody would hear you. Nobody cared. Nobody was bothered. I could hear them crying – and they weren’t there. To me it was like a death. I was grieving for years.

All I ever wanted in my whole life

My son and my daughter were both very poorly children and they both had learning difficulties themselves.  But they’re just absolutely lovely. They tell me every day how much they love me.  They bring so much hope into my life, just seeing them, and making my own little family … it’s just lovely.

Just being there

It’s hard work being a parent but the most important thing is just being there, spending quality time, loving your kids and taking care of them.

Don’t listen to people when they say you can’t do things because you’ve got a learning disability. You can do lots of things, including being a good mum.

Geordie Mums and me

If it wasn’t for you,
I’d still be the nervous one,
The shy one, the quiet one,
Isolated, ashamed,
Almost a shadow,
If it wasn’t for you.

If it wasn’t for you
I would never reach out,
Never touch, never speak,
Never laugh, never trust,
Never dare to hope,
If it wasn’t for you.

But now, because of you,
Your respect, your kindness,
And little by little, and taking my time,
I’ve given up whispering, given up hiding,
I’ve found my voice,
Now I say what I mean.

And, because of you,
This is what I want to say.
Now I can touch, now I can speak,
Now I can laugh, now I can trust,
Now I can dare, now I can hope,
Now I can open my heart,
And say thank you.

Thank you, Joanna.
Thank you, Donna.
Thank you, Geordie Mums.

Mia

Fast moving, raw and eye-opening, Mia explores the truths and myths about learning disability and parenthood in today’s society.

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