And so began the story of Nancy and her son Jay. Nancy was a young mother in the summer of 1965. When Jay was born, Nancy and her husband already had 2 children. Jay wasn’t necessarily planned, but he wasn’t unwelcome, either. When Nancy first opened her eyes and laid them on Jay, she fell in love. But something was different. Jay was born with a variety of nerve and circulation issues. These issues made talking, chewing, swallowing and even breathing quite difficult. 40 years ago, doctors did not have the same mindset that they do now. Because of this, they suggested that Nancy leave her son in the custody of the state and “move on.”
“Well, we couldn’t do that,” Nancy said. After moving to Casper in 1969, Nancy was asked by her family doctor if she would be interested in letting Jay attend Casper Daycare, a small daycare ran by two young women who had a heart for children with special needs. Nancy considered the thought, accepted it and enrolled Jay in the daycare when he was 4 years old.
Their lives would never be the same.
What Casper Daycare (now the Child Development Center) did, according to Nancy, was offer a safe place for her baby boy. They offered a place that Jay would be treated equally, with love and care and acceptance. They offered a shoulder for Nancy and a toy for Jay, letting both know that “it’s okay; here, you are loved, you are accepted, you are safe. You are ours, now. Both of you.”
For the young mother of a child with special needs, this was as comforting as a baby blanket pulled up to the chin on a winter night.
CDC offered more than just the basics, Nancy said. “They gave him a lot of love, a lot of attention, a lot of interaction with other 3-4 year olds. And they worked with him until he could chew better, swallow better and just plain feel better.”
When Nancy was a young mother, scared and confused and uncertain, she needed Casper Daycare. Today, the Child Development is needed more than ever. Sometimes, moms need assurance. Sometimes, for mothers like Nancy, they just need to be held and told that “it’s okay, you’re safe here.” For those women, for those children, for those families, there is the Child Development Center and if Nancy could say just one thing to those women that took her and her baby boy in and gave them love, acceptance and, perhaps most importantly, hope, it would be this:
“Thank you. You got us off on a strong footing and I will always be thankful that you were there.”
CDC was there for Nancy, and it remains a source of hope for young parents everywhere. With the help of the community whose lives they enrich, CDC will continue to be a safe place. It will continue to be a place of love and acceptance. It will continue to tell the families of Wyoming, “It’s okay, you’re ours now.”