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A Divine Assignment

Mark and Bethany

Mark and Bethany D’Alberto wanted a family.  After miscarrying their first child, you can imagine the excitement and happiness of once again getting pregnant. Their dream was going to become a reality.

Sadly, 30 weeks into their pregnancy, their baby stopped growing. Gracie came into the world 10 weeks later like a porcelain figurine: small, fragile and ill. A nurse handed Gracie to Bethany and told her to take her home and pick out a nice dress for her casket.

Mark and Bethany entered into the world of disability and special needs with a bang. They cried, they grieved and they determined they would love and care for their daughter the best they could.

Since Gracie’s birth they have traveled the world looking for a diagnosis to no avail. Every consultation made Mark and Bethany feel more alone and isolated. There was no support group for their child’s disease, no one to call to ask if a certain behavior was normal, and no one who even had a clue what was going to happen next.

Many of their friends began to fall away. Mark and Bethany realized they were becoming dangerously isolated from the world they used to know.

Then they were introduced to a new world.  The D’Albertos discovered David’s Refuge while attending an Advocates St. Patrick’s party. It had been nine years since Mark and Bethany were able to get away alone on a date. They were ready for some respite.

David’s Refuge offered Mark and Bethany a chance to reconnect. They were able to unplug from being “caregivers” and take time to reflect on their marriage, life, children, faith and dreams.

They met with hosts who didn’t judge them. Mark shared, “It was good to be with someone who understood what it meant to be the parent of a child with special needs. We felt like we were a part of a community.”

Mark was most touched by the way David’s Refuge showed him that what he did every day with Gracie mattered; Gracie wasn’t a burden but rather a divine assignment. Everything they did for and with Gracie mattered. No one had ever told them this before and it made them feel special.

Bethany said coming to David’s Refuge was the most “selflessly selfish thing you can do.” It’s selfish because you are treating yourself It is selfless because once you care for yourself you are better able to care for others.

Coming away from their weekend at David’s Refuge, Mark and Bethany were changed. They were recharged. It spoke to a place deep inside themselves. Ultimately, the real winners were Gracie and her younger sister, Cecilia. When the caregivers are cared for, they are better able to care for their family.

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