It’s heartbreaking to admit it, but I sometimes wish that Adam, our severely intellectually disabled son, will die before me and my husband, Robert. Our fear of the future never ends: Where will he live? How will he manage? Who will take care of him?

The anxiety is even more overwhelming because Adam’s name appears on the sex-offender registry. He committed a crime nine years ago without understanding the implications or realizing what he’d done wrong.

A troubled young man who lived next door to us told Adam it would be “fun” to pull down his pants in front of the boy’s 5-year-old niece. My son had the intellectual capacity of a 10-year-old.

Soon after he was convicted of “sexual exploitation/exposure of organs” in 2013, Adam regressed to the mental age of a preschool kid. His life is in pieces.

Robert and I emptied our retirement account and sold our house to pay for Adam’s legal fees and a new place to live. The three of us share a small condo in Chicago where Adam has the only bedroom, I sleep behind a divider, and Robert sleeps in the living room.

Robert and I have vowed to fight on his behalf. In 2015, I cofounded a nonprofit called Legal Reform for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. We want special courts to be introduced for people like Adam. Teachers, police officers, prosecutors, judges, and politicians need more awareness of intellectual disabilities.


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