‘Aunt Mommy’ – a sister’s struggle for guardianship of Down syndrome baby
Tomacina Hochgurtel tells the story passionately and honestly about how she became the legal guardian of her sister’s baby, Jordan Lee, who was born with Down syndrome, in her soon-to-be released book, “Aunt Mommy.”
She and Dan Hochgurtel were not married when she found out that her sister was pregnant with her fourth child.
Tomacina Hochgurtel, now 29 and profound beyond her years, had this to say of her situation at the time:
“I was only 20 years old. Dan and I were living together in a tiny apartment. We were striving to live life as adults. Struggling to go to work everyday and pay the bills on time. It is bizarre how something so common could seem like such a chore. Life doesn’t always come easy from the beginning. We are all entitled to make our mistakes. Everyone spends their entire life trying to figure out how to live life to the fullest.
“Dan and I were definitely not perfect; we made our share of mistakes. We fought like cats and dogs. We let a lot of little things come between us.
“Marriage was not really a thought yet. Having a child was nearly inconceivable. We could not even remember to feed the cat most of the time. Getting out of bed in the morning to go to work on time was a task we had not yet mastered. Needless to say, to start a family and live for each other was something we could not even fathom.”
Hochgurtel talks about how she, along with her two other sisters, witnessed the birth of their sister’s son, and immediately fell in love with him, at the time not knowing he was a Down syndrome baby.
“He had very light blond hair, ivory skin and those beautiful eyes. I could see right into his eyes. They were magical! I knew right away that there was something special about Jordan Lee. I just wanted to hold him forever and never let him go. I had never felt anything so intense; I was speechless,” said Hochgurtel in her book. “I was so madly in love with this new little angel!”
Each chapter in this short and poignant little paperback book – 75 pages – begins with a new picture of this child deemed “amazing” by Hochgurtel. She tells the tale of Jordan’s tumultuous first year, with a troubled life quite the opposite of the structured one he eventually came to have with Tomacina and, her intense and emotional struggles to get legal guardianship. Hochgurtel talks about how Jordan eventually made her and Dan’s lives complete beyond their expectations.
“Jordan Lee has always been the kindest and most loving person I have ever met! Being loved by Jordan is the most wonderful and fulfilling love that I have ever and most likely will ever experience. It is as if he loves on a whole different level than most people. His love is so pure and so innocent and selfless. He is the brightest light, even brighter, like the sun, and he came into my life and lit up my whole world like a brand new summer morning.”
Jordan is now 8 and in third grade. Tomacina Hochgurtel has lived in Carson Valley for her entire life. Tomacina and Dan Hochgurtel were married in 2003 and welcomed their youngest son David into their lives in 2004. Tomacina Hochgurtel is the manager of her family’s restaurant, Two Guys from Italy in Gardnerville, where she works as a waitress, cook and bookkeeper. She always dreamed of being an author and was excited to have a story, she was so passionate about, to write.
“When I was younger I used to say I would write mystery novels,” said Hochgurtel. “This book actually started as a diary. It was what I could do to get through all the chaos.”
Hochgurtel’s book is selling for $8.99. “Aunt Mommy,” a 2007 publication by Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, of Mustang, Okla., can be purchased now at Two Guys from Italy in Gardnerville, or at tatepublishing.com. After the book’s release date, July 3, it will be available at amazon.com, borders.com or barnesandnoble.com.
— Jo Rafferty is People editor at The Record-Courier. She can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.