By RENEE FRANCOEUR
A Blackfalds mother will spend her 35th birthday today exactly the way she wanted — at home with her two daughters.
“Marie” (her name has been changed to protect the identities of her children) was reunited with her daughters last week after having no choice but to send the girls to stay with a friend.
Marie, a single mother, has severe multiple sclerosis. As her condition worsened, she was finding it increasingly difficult to provide for her girls, ages three and four, she said.
It’s hard for her to get up and walk around and tremours make simple tasks like eating and drinking strenuous.
She was diagnosed in 2008 while living in Grande Prairie.
When she first approached the Department of Human Services for help, she said she was told it might be best to consider adoption for her family.
“My heart dropped when they said that,” said Marie, clasping her palms to her chest. “I panicked.”
When news of Marie’s troubled situation spread, a complete stranger decided to do something and started a Facebook group called Miracle for Marie.
Friends of Marie’s later took over the group and today it has over 1,800 members.
“The support I’ve received, the amazing people who have come up to me — it’s renewed my faith in humanity,” said Marie.
Human Services agreed to look into her case late last month and will review her situation every three months.
After a few weeks away from their mother, the girls were able to come home when care workers were provided by the province. One worker will come in from 5 to 8 p.m. and another from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
They dress, bath, and cook for the girls as well as drop them off and pick them up from day care, said Marie.
“It’s been amazing release of stress.”
Rhonda Coubrough, regional manager of public relations for Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority, said she can’t speak about a specific case but that the department is there to support and keep families together if possible.
“All cases are complex and when we work with families, we look at the immediate needs as well as future needs,” said Coubrough, in regards to the adoption suggestion.
The MS Society of Canada also provides housecleaning every two weeks for the family, said Marie.
While she couldn’t ask for more than to have her girls back with her, Marie said she’s worried the care isn’t a long-term solution to keeping her family together.
“I’d like to get a live-in nanny for more stability for the girls,” she said.
Lorraine Evans-Cross, executive director with the Central Alberta MS chapter, said they are continuing to work with the government to address gaps in services and support for families with MS.
A trust account for Marie has been recently set up for donations. Members of the public can make a cash or cheque donation at any TD Bank, addressing it to Laurrie Mohr and Lindsay Detta in Trust for Miracle for Marie.
A silent auction fundraiser tentatively scheduled for April 14 in Blackfalds is also being organized by friends of the family.
“I want to thank everyone who has listened to my story,” said Marie. “And I want anyone else going through this, feeling that there’s no one, to know that there is hope and that others do care.”