Lion is the true story of a boy who got lost in his home country of India, nearly a thousand miles away after falling asleep alone on a train. He was young, but neurotypical, yet he couldn’t pronounce the name of his hometown and believed his mother’s name was “Mum.” There was no way to reunite him with his family, and after a handful of terrifying events during his homelessness, followed by time spent in an orphanage, he was adopted and raised by a loving family in Australia.
Since Hope was a newborn, I have found myself in tears several times over the thought of someone kidnapping her and how helpless she would be. Then I fear what the kidnapper would do when s/he realizes that Hope has special needs. This is of course extreme—a sensational story pieced together from movie plots and anxiety—and there are more realistic events that could lead to Hope becoming lost, such as eloping or innocently losing a hand grasp in a crowd.
My children and I have been almost glued to each other since they were born. We have the occasional separation, but they don’t go to daycare and the only time Hope is really out of sight is now when she’s at school. We have a double stroller for travel and medical appointments, and we have a keen eye for doorways and other potential escape routes.
But despite our best efforts, we understand that tragedies can occur in the blink of an eye. So, we opted for an ID bracelet from American Medical ID. The bracelet we chose has very generous engraving space, but it’s still quite small. The information we found to be most important includes:
- Hope’s first and last name. She can only approximate her first name and I’m pretty sure doesn’t have a clue what her last name is, even if she repeats it for us when we say it to her.
- My and my husband’s cell phone numbers. We didn’t think there’d be room for our address and figure the authorities could find our location based on this information. Or they could just give us a call..
- Down syndrome. This information covers a host of medical, emotional, and physical considerations should Hope be gone for a significant amount of time.
- ASL. It’s been a struggle to convince those who don’t live with Hope how critical American Sign Language (ASL) is for her. She can grasp ASL because she’s tactile and communicating with her hands makes more sense to her than does using her voice. Despite her low muscle tone and coordination difficulties, Hope’s signs are often clearer than her words, and to someone who knows sign language, approximated signs paired with approximated speech could be all that’s needed to help put Hope at ease should she find herself lost.
- Repaired atrioventricular septal defect. We’ve used the abbreviation “AVSD,” which first responders should easily understand. Although her repair is among the best our cardiologist has seen, there are still so many implications of it and anyone who finds her, even if she’s healthy, must know about her heart.
The first day we put the bracelet on, I literally had to pin Hope down as she protested. For the rest of the day she played with it but never tried to take it off. On day 2 she was excited to put it on at school after performing at preschool graduation. And on day 3 she expected it to be on and didn’t mess with it even once throughout the entire day.
We use the bracelet differently, depending where we are and what we are doing. If we’re home all day, we forgive ourselves a little more easily if we forget to put it on her. But when we were on vacation, Hope wore the bracelet 24/7—this included during sleep, swimming, and bathing. No exceptions.
A friend of ours brought up the idea that we should include her blood type, so we’ll definitely do that on the next round. I was so concerned with this being an “if lost, return to” type of ID, but anything that keeps our beautiful, innocent daughter safe is a good idea to us.