By Lisa Danford
Turning 18 is a big milestone. It marks the beginning of adulthood, which includes making decisions about what you want in life. That wasn’t the case for Rosie Lawrence- Slater. When she turned 18, Lawrence-Slater was put under guardianship.
Guardianship in Ohio is a court-ordered relationship. It means one adult is authorized to make decisions for and act on behalf of another adult. A guardian can be a parent, relative, or someone else.
Several years ago, Lawrence-Slater, now 34, took steps to free herself. “I wanted to be my own guardian so I could make my own choices,” she said. “I can do a lot on my own.” When she was on her third appointed legal guardian, Lawrence-Slater began the process of taking back control of her own life. She started saving money for a lawyer in case she needed one and identified who could be on her support team. One of her doctors agreed that she no longer needed a guardian. Then she sought a second, independent evaluation.
That professional also determined she could be her own guardian. In September 2019, Lawrence-Slater received an official letter from the probate court terminating her guardianship.
“I was very excited,” she said about being free. “I had lots of friends and family who helped me.” She credits her success to that encouragement and the self-advocacy skills she had been building for years. Lawrence-Slater now gets help with important choices by using supported decision-making. In 2012, Ohio’s law changed to embrace self-directed decision-making and independence. “Rosie is very capable and smart, and she understands that she is responsible for her decisions,” said her mom, Joy. “We all have people that help us when we need something. The important thing is the person who is being supported makes the decisions and chooses the people they want as their support system.”
Rosie’s Path To Freedom
- Know what you can do independently
and what you need support with.
“You have to know yourself and have
- Gather your support system and
figure out who is going to help you.
- Understand the process and steps to
take. It might be different for each
person, depending on your situation.
Learn more about guardianship from the Ohio DD Council, ddc.ohio.gov/.