When you google “Dianne Hampshire,” the first entry that pops up is a profile from the Works of Arc website featuring Dianne’s picture and describing her ceramic work at ADEC’s Day Service at Goshen.
For most people, this would be just a run-of-the-mill web bio, but for Richard Hampshire, it was the culmination of an eight-year quest to find his mother.
It all started eight years ago when Richard Hampshire went to a rehabilitation facility to visit his mother, Dianne. She was gone.
He asked where she had been taken, and no one would tell him. The staff claimed HIPAA laws prevented them from disclosing Dianne’s whereabouts. In actuality, they were upset a patient had been transferred out of their services, depriving them of that income. To demonstrate their feelings, they purposefully withheld the information he rightfully deserved.
He got very upset with the staff members and told Jodi Taylor, ADEC Guardian Advocate, he “made a scene” before leaving that day.
Time went by. Richard would call around and spend time on Google looking for Dianne, but nothing ever came up. He continued to build his life, eventually moving to Arizona where he met his fiancée. Whenever the thought came to mind, Richard would start searching again, turning up no results.
Until one day this spring when he came across Dianne’s profile in Works of Arc.
In the meantime, Dianne had given up hope for her son. As a resident in ADEC’s Supported Living Services, she had spent years telling her staff about her son and how she did not know what had happened to him.
Recently, she told one of her direct support professionals, Amanda Stover, that she thought her son might be dead. That was the only explanation she could think of after so many years apart from each other.
“It had been quite a while back, and I didn’t even know if he was alive,” Dianne explained. “I didn’t know he was looking for me. And then he came to visit me.”
When Richard read his mother’s profile online, he planned a trip to Elkhart right away. Making a beeline for ADEC, Richard came to ADEC’s administration building and asked where his mother was living and if he could see her.
Crystal Slabaugh, Human Resources Administrative Assistant, connected Richard to Jodi when he told her his story. Jodi had been hearing about Richard for years and excitedly called over to Dianne’s apartment to share the good news.
Dianne was taking a nap when Amanda came in and woke her. She knew immediately, something was up.
“I don’t usually wake her up,” Amanda said. “But I went in and said, ‘Dianne, you really need to wake up. I have really exciting news. Your son is here and he’s looking for you.’”
Dianne was floored. Jodi was still on the phone when Amanda told Dianne, and she said Dianne sounded as if she was in shock. Dianne thought she must be hearing wrong.
Amanda kept reassuring her she wasn’t dreaming and her son was really coming to see – the next day.
Once Dianne absorbed the news, she and Amanda got to work. They spent time picking out a nice outfit and making Dianne’s hair and makeup look nice.
The next day, Richard and his fiancée came to Dianne’s apartment and spent half of the day with Dianne and Amanda. They caught up on each other’s lives by showing each other pictures and talking over memories.
Richard was able to tell Dianne where her parents were buried. They had been in nursing homes when he lost contact with Dianne. She knew they had passed during the time apart, but she never had the opportunity to say goodbye and pay her final respects. She and Amanda are already planning a trip to visit their graveside.
Before their time together was over, everyone went out and enjoyed a nice meal together. Dianne made sure they took lots of pictures so she could remember the day just as it happened.
“He’s very nice,” Dianne said of her son. “I like him very well.”
Before Richard left, the mother and son exchanged all of the contact information they could possibly think of so they could keep in touch and not lose each other again.
Since the visit, they talk regularly on the phone. When Richard’s birthday came up in July, Dianne put together a special package.
“I sent him a box with a picture frame I made at the Shoots with a picture of us in it, a Notre Dame hat, a bag of candy and a happy birthday card that said, ‘From Mom.’”
Dianne made an identical ceramic frame for herself with the picture from their visit. She keeps it right next to her chair in the living room.
“I just didn’t know where he was, and he’s the one who found me,” Dianne said. “I didn’t even know he was looking for me, and I’m glad he was.”
For ADEC staff, this heartwarming reunion was a reminder of how much responsibility we have to make positive choices for the people we serve and work for a life filled with possibility.
“It was a sober reminder of how much a phone call or a brief moment of interaction can affect [a person],” Crystal, Human Resources Administrative Assistant, said. “It’s neat how it all came together for a happy ending . . . it reminded me of the sensitivity and responsibility I have.”