"I'm so excited to hold her": Celebrating Motherhood at Every Ability

Tue, June 18, 2019

Tanzanika Rosado and her husband open gifts at their baby shower.

Inside the recreation room of YAI’s Kew Gardens Multiservice Center, dozens of people gathered under bouquets of pastel balloons, laughing as they bobbed to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” A mountain of gifts sat in the corner of the room. Beside it, Tanzanika Rosado held court under a glittering banner.

She beamed with delight as friends, staff, and family congratulated her. Between hugs, her arms cradled her stomach where Jasmine Alexandria waited to be born.

“Me and my husband, José, wanted a baby for seven years,” said Rosado, a woman with a developmental disability supported by YAI. “We tried and we waited, but I was patient. When I went to Urgent Care this winter and found out I was 10 weeks pregnant, I was so happy.”

Though motherhood can be daunting, Rosado is more excited than nervous. After years of longing, she finally has the chance to give her daughter the stable home she always dreamed of for herself.

“I named her Jasmine, after the princess,” she said. “She’ll be my little princess and I’m going to make sure she has everything. She’s going to get so much love.”

For most of her childhood, Rosado lived with her family in Harlem. Despite her disability, her mom worked hard to ensure that her daughter had a happy, supported childhood. But when Rosado’s mom became seriously ill, even her best efforts weren’t enough.

By the time she was 10, Rosado was living in foster care.

Fortunately, the family that took her in recognized her needs. Instead of giving her up, they adopted Rosado and entered her in YAI’s Respite Program where she received the socialization and support she needed to thrive.

“YAI was really her stronghold,” said Lorraine Myers, a Direct Support Professional with the agency. “Being Tanzy’s primary support person for so long, I feel like she’s my family.”

For 14 years, Myers has been by Rosado’s side for every milestone, watching as she blossomed from a frightened — and sometimes defiant — youth to a capable, independent woman.

“I’ve been privileged to see the growth of this young woman, and she is now in an amazing place,” Myers said. “She’s overcome so much. Now, she holds down two jobs as a receptionist, she’s married, and she’s creating a family of her own. That says a lot about her strength.”

Despite her achievements, Myers has worked with the staff at Kew Gardens and YAI’s Sutphin Boulevard residence where Rosado lives, to make sure that she’s equally successful in her transition to motherhood.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to help her prepare for the baby’s arrival,” Myers said. “From showing her how to care for the baby to helping her and her husband find an apartment where they can live as a family — she knows we’ll be there to make sure they have everything they need. If there’s any time she needs help after the baby comes, all she has to do is call and I’ll be there.”

Despite her difficult past, Rosado is confident that, between YAI and her husband, she’ll have all the support she needs.

“Everyone is helping,” she said. “And I know that José is going to be there to love and take care of Jasmine so I can get a break. We decided that we’re going to share the work. He’s ready.”

Myers’ greatest wish for Rosado is that she will never again feel uncertainty or fear.

“We all just want Tanzy to know that she is in a safe, stable place, surrounded by people who love her and can help her accomplish her dreams,” Myers said. “I see where she is now and I’m so happy to be part of it. I’m not going to turn my back on her. She and her daughter will have me forever.”

Jasmine Alexandria Rosado is due on July 24.

“I’m just so excited to hold her,” Rosado said. “I can’t wait.”

As the baby shower extended into the afternoon, more people poured in, piling gifts onto the mountain and giving Rosado their blessings. Rosado’s laughter carried across the room and into the hallway. There was so much to celebrate.