The Yao Family

by Qin Li

We are a family of five—our oldest is a senior in high school and is processing his college admission; our youngest is in 6th grade; and Michelle, who goes by Mimi, is 14 years old and a regular at Jill’s House!

Mimi does not regularly interact with people outside of school and at home, so Jill’s House has become another home for her. Jill’s House has been providing stability and predictability for her since elementary school. She knows what she is getting and that she is being taken care of. Jill’s House helps provide Mimi with a good quality of life!

Mimi was born healthy, but when she turned one year old, we noticed some developmental delays. After a series of tests, we found out that she had a chromosomal abnormality. We learned that there could be a wide range of functional behavioral capabilities with this disorder, so we weren’t sure how her development would be. We started early intervention and tried different therapies. We even traveled out of state to see different specialists. We learned that there were different strategies we could try, and we were given lists of things to work on with Mimi, but nothing seemed to work. It was such a hard time for our family. We were exhausted, and so was Mimi!

Then, during Mimi’s annual visit with her pediatrician, we were advised to treat Mimi as a normal child. We were also told that her development curve was what it would be, and all we could do was bring her closest to what her curve was. Simply put, he told us to ensure she is healthy and happy with a good quality of life. We kept thinking, “Are we doing enough for Mimi? Are we pursuing all the answers? If we do more, will she be more functioning?” We needed to hear his advice. It was almost as if he had given us the freedom to simply love our daughter as God had given her to us.

Mimi started attending Jill’s House Weekend Program, then Summer Day Camp. We truly appreciate how Jill’s House’s team works together to support her! The amount of care and coordination is amazing. From the intake and program teams to the office staff—everyone works together to attend to and care for Mimi. We used to send food from home, but now we don’t even send her food because we are more and more comfortable.

We are relaxed when Mimi is at Jill’s House. We are comfortable with the high level of care she is given and grateful for how Jill’s House has impacted our whole family, not just Mimi.

Our older son was in middle school when Mimi started going to Jill’s House, so he can recall how exhausted and down we were before Jill’s House. Like us, he internalized the struggles that Mimi had gone through as a young child. With Jill’s House, he recognizes the difference Jill’s House has made in Mimi’s life and the impact it has had on our family’s journey. He volunteered at Jill’s House and made his independent financial contribution to Jill’s House. Jill’s House helped Mimi as well as the rest of us to find love, purpose, and peace of mind, we are very grateful for that.

We enjoy such peace of mind when Mimi is at Jill’s House, and we get to spend one-on-one time with our two other kids. That time is precious, and we appreciate it. We play games together or just play with our dog, Willow. We brought Willow home during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been very kind to Mimi, and is such a great addition to our family.

Mimi expresses herself emotionally with smiles and cuddles. She can be very charming! While she is at Jill’s House, we believe she is at her best because she feels loved and very comfortable. The level of trust we have in Jill’s House allows us to truly rest! We have had a long family journey. I believe there is a purpose in everything, and Jill’s House has been such an important part of our journey and our family.