“We want to care for our son,” shared Felipe Gonzalez when explaining to the compañera at Taller de José why he and his wife were seeking legal guardianship for their son with Down Syndrome. Like many of Taller de José’s clients the Gonazlez family came for assistance in providing a healthy, stable enivornment for their children. One of the legal questions that mothers and fathers often ask us at Taller de José is how they can receive guardianship of their adult son or daughter. These loving parents generally have been caring for their child with severe special needs for many years; when that child turns 18, the parents discover that they have lost the legal right to speak with doctors or make decisions on behalf of their son or daughter. For many parents unfamiliar with the legal system, this comes as a surprise, and can create a great deal of fear and anxiety. It can be difficult to understand why they need legal permission to continue to care for their family member.
Luckily, these parents have access to a legal help desk at the Daley Center—one of Chicago’s largest civil courthouses—that will help prepare the documents to request guardianship from the courts. In the case of Sandra and Felipe, a compañera from Taller de José explained the process and accompanied them to the help desk, where they spent several hours completing the necessary forms. The compañera then assisted them in filing these forms, which required riding the elevators almost 10 different times to go to various floors for signatures and stamps and approvals.
A few months later, the compañera accompanied Sandra and Felipe and their son as they returned to the Daley Center for the hearing with the judge. It was heart-warming to see the mutual affection between Felipe and his son as they together navigated the public transit system and the security at the courthouse. Sandra and Felipe were so relieved when the judge granted their petition for guardianship, enabling them to better care for their son.
You can hear Sandra and Felipe share their experiences in this video!