Deborah's Decision

When I first met Deborah, 62, she was living in Columbia, Missouri, navigating the complexities that came along with having custody of three children diagnosed with a range of mental illnesses.

At the time this was photographed, Deborah was struggling to find the eldest child the resources he needs to make his way through life. The eldest child, whose name has been changed at the request of the family, is dealing with the most severe disorders of the three children.

Due to violent episodes and multiple suicide attempts, he has been hospitalized off and on since entering Deborah's life. Deborah cannot afford residential care without the state's help. However, going through the state would require that she relinquish custody, which she is unwilling to do for the time being.


I followed up with Deborah for The Riveter.