From the magical mind of Real Disney Mom Janie GD…
Please be aware that you may find parts of this article uncomfortable to read, and maybe even harder to imagine.
As in any Disney tale, you will find heros, villains and triumph over adversity; and this true life account is no different.
In a land, not so very far away; there is a terrible place where the sun never shines, and found trapped in that dark place were six children named Cooper, Dustin, Matthew, William, Nathaniel & Zoe Renee until their little lives were flooded with light by their adoptive parents Eric & Stephanie McKinney. These innocent babes did not have the loving and cozy beginning that is usually lavished upon all new borns. Their birth parents had issues of their own, full of drug and substance misuse which lead to the horrors of child abuse; both physical and sexual. Tragically this has left scars both visible and invisible…
Using Stephanie’s own words to describe just how her children’s lives began –
Cooper – “He was found when he was three, abandoned in a trailer open to the elements…he was covered in body fluids and left to die in the elements. He had been physically abused, mentally/emotionally abused, and sexually abused in the most disgusting and heinous way.”
Dustin – “Dustin was three and in the hospital when we met him. He had been starved and abused in his FOSTER home.”
Matthew – “We got Matt and William at the same time, and Matt was two. They are biological brothers. They had already had three foster homes, because no wanted Matthew. He was ‘weird’. He has Autism.”
William – “He had been beaten so severely when he was 4 months old, that both sides of his skull had been fractured. His biological father had beaten him hard enough to crack his skull on both sides, with a plastic bottle. Everyone wanted to adopt William but not Matt. But William has since developed ADHD.”
Nathaniel – “He was 22 months when we got him, and he is currently 4. He came into care because both he and his sister (Zoe Renee) were removed together.”
Zoe Renee – “She was 5 months old when we got her, and is currently 3. She was a mess when I got her. She weighed only 6.5 lbs and had 12 fractures. Both her arms, and legs had been twisted broken…along with 8 of her ribs. Both biologicals deny any involvement.”
Tough reading I know; especially if your soul has been sheltered from the darker side of humanity.
The McKinney’s are honest to goodness working folk, wanting only to provide the best life and accommodation for their growing family’s disability needs. This year the project has been a more accessible downstairs bedroom for Cerebral Palsy sufferer Zoe, thus giving her more independence as walking and climbing the stairs is quite challenging. The expense of this build soon nibbled away at the savings carefully put aside for a Disney vacation. However, neighbor and self titled ‘Disney Nut’, David Mullican swooped in with the splendid idea of Eric and Stephanie entering their local Tennessee TV station’s competition for a deserving family to win the ‘Trip of a lifetime to Walt Disney World’…unfortunately, even with the help of all David’s fellow Mickey Moms Club members voting online until their fingers were sore; the McKinney’s luck wasn’t quite yet Pixie Dusted! But not winning wasn’t an option for former US Marine Mullican, he soon rallied the MMC troops into action once again…with the afore mentioned pixie dust arriving in the human form of Club member Heidi LaDuca! With Heidi’s generous donation of the free use of her stunning vacation home in Orlando, and the growing involvement of the Mickey Moms Club; gradually the dreams and wishes in the hearts of the McKinney family were coming true.
Now can you imagine the joy that this trip to WDW will bring? It will bond and reinforce the commitment and love that runs right through the very core of the McKinney family. When Eric and Stephanie announced that they were going to Walt Disney World in May 2012 the children all produced smiles bigger than the Cheshire Cat, not to mention more noise and sheer exuberance than Illuminations; now wouldn’t you have loved to have witnessed that?! Amongst other conditions both Cooper and William suffer with ADHD, Matthew is Autistic and Zoe has problems with mobility, so the the careful planning of each stage of this amazing trip will be paramount due to each individuals special needs. Each child has their own personal Disney ‘to do’ list’ including visiting Epcot, watching fireworks, taking in some rides, checking out Star Tours and visiting with the Princesses, but topping the list is of course, a meeting with Mickey & Minnie Mouse!
This family are all heroes, the parents for their unconditional love, and the children for their ability to thrive against all the odds. Maybe this is your chance to be a hero, whether it’s giving complete acceptance of disability, or to just offer your love and support to the Marvellous McKinneys.