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“Our Journey with James” by Cristina Rodert

The Rodert Family on a sofa, The four of them look happy and James is wearing a blue top being held by his parentsI came to Australia in 1994 as an overseas student and was studying to receive a PhD at the University of Adelaide in environmental studies. Then I gave birth to James 7 weeks premature in 2000. My life was changed forever. After that, I stayed home and cared for James, and his little sister Hannah, full time for seven years. Later, I gradually entered the workforce. Now my interest shifted to areas of disability, especially how to help and care for people with high needs. I am currently working to help unemployed people find new opportunities. Apart from work, organising James’ care, accommodation and health needs consume most of my time.

This is my first attempt to contribute to writing a book, and it is a challenge for me to express myself, coming from a non English-speaking background. I want to share the most relevant events of our lives. James is a very interesting character. Each day we spend with him is always special, and it is a challenge to identify the best moments to share.

By writing our story, I had the chance to reflect on our family’s journey since James was born, the joys and tears we shed, and as I look back, it makes me wonder where I got the strength to carry on. James is our dear child and we’ll always be there to care for his welfare, support him and nurture his every need.

I wish for this book to touch as many people’s lives as possible. We have a special story to tell, and I want to share our family’s journey with the world.

I met John Duthie last year when I ran as a candidate for the Dignity Party. I was very impressed with John’s determination to create a resource for families with disabilities. When my James was born with Down’s syndrome, hearing issues and multiple health difficulties, I was lost. I wanted to be a great mom, but this was new territory for me. I didn’t know what to do. Now my experiences could help others, so I am trying to put my life’s experience down on paper. I will take readers on our family’s journey as we faced the challenges and difficulties in raising our son James who has multiple disabilities and high needs. It is not easy for someone to understand our struggles, especially those who have not been touched by disability.

We feel privileged to have James in our lives, and we would like the world to know that though it is challenging and difficult at times, we are living a rewarding and fulfilling life. James made us realise how precious life is and we have a better appreciation of life no matter how simple it is.

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