Rosemary is a mother. She says she’s not a fighter. But when it comes to the well-being and future of her adopted son, Rosemary willingly fights fiercely and unrelentingly.
Rosemary’s son is 10 years old and has multiple disabilities. She describes first meeting him in the hospital at 5 months old, premature, categorized as “Failure to Thrive.”
“That little soul, when we went to see him at the hospital, he was 3.5 pounds,” she says of their first encounter. “As soon as we walked in, he turns his head and gives us a big smile and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was it – I’m taking him home!’” She continues, “That was already his spirit. I thought ‘what’s he got to smile about, really?’ It was just an instant connection and I was like, ‘You poor little guy – he was just so happy to have somebody come in [to visit him].’”
When the child was unable to be reunited with his biological parents, Rosemary was able to adopt her son when he turned 5 years old. Conscious of the medical, emotional, and social challenges ahead of him, Rosemary began seeking options to prepare her son for greater independence and the possibility of a future education.
She had heard about Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) and felt that opening a savings account for her son’s future education would be a great way to ensure that he was supported financially if he decided to pursue University or other post-graduate studies. “And if not, the money is not lost,” explains Rosemary. “You just get back the part you put in – so if he doesn’t pursue an education for some reason, the money is still there for him.” She continues, “The motivation for me is stronger for saving for him because it’s educational and I know he’ll really need that.”
Despite her best efforts to open an RESP for him, Rosemary found herself being bounced about by bureaucracy. The bank asserted that she was missing information and the government officials she spoke with referred her back to her bank. “I didn’t know where to turn because I had been back and forth, back and forth,” she explains. “I was very frustrated between the two of them because nobody had an answer, nobody could direct me to what I was supposed to be doing.”
Equipped with the information needed, any obstacle can be overcome
Having previously taken a handful of Money Management workshops with Momentum in the past, Rosemary knew who she could call to help her out of this sticky situation.
“I always think of Momentum when it comes to things like finances because I don’t know who else does that kind of work – helping you with your finances, with where to look for things to do with finances and small businesses. I find when I call Momentum, I get somebody who is going to help me.”
Rosemary found Fatima, a Financial Empowerment Facilitator at Momentum. “Fatima had it resolved in a day,” says Rosemary. “It was just absolutely amazing. She called me back and said, yes, you are entitled to this, and yes, there is no problem.”
Fatima suggested that Rosemary call the Canada Education Savings Program (CESP) hotline number (1-888-276-3624) where the CESP agents can discuss personal information with guardians about their children’s RESPs. With this guidance and her own determination, Rosemary made a few more phone calls and sorted out the information needed to complete the full application.
Fatima also informed Rosemary about the Canada Learning Bond that entitles parents and guardians to a $500 one-time payment and additional support of $100 over 15 years, totaling to $2000 of savings for future education goals.
Finding balance in saving for the future and living in the present
Facing her own financial struggles, Rosemary still found a way to regularly contribute to her son’s RESP each month. Reducing payments and ensuring that the money could be put aside each month, whatever the amount, proved more effective than not saving at all.
“What struck me about Rosemary is that despite having many things on the go in her own life, she knew saving for her son’s education was so important for his future,” says Fatima. “She didn’t give up.”
A mother’s hopes
Rosemary knows the path forward won’t necessarily be an easy one for her and her son. “He has special needs,” she says. “He can learn. Everybody just loves him everywhere he goes. He’s just so kind, so caring. He’d be the best Care Person ever!” She laughs heartily and her eyes crinkle with pride over her son’s natural compassion for others and the bright future he may have ahead of him.
Her dreams for his future include an education in something he would like to do – that fulfills him in life. “I don’t know if he’ll have independence – I don’t know what that will look like for him,” she admits. “He may always need some sort of support. “I just hope he has good people in his life – that’s usually my prayer. He’ll have good people who support and love him.”
The love, determination, and support that his mother has provided so far will no doubt create a brighter, more independent future for her son.