Stephanie Anderson is a survivor of trafficking from Montana. Her submission is an excerpt from, From Unlikely to Unlimited, a 2016 project she worked on with her son, Christian. In this project, Stephanie tells the story of their journey encountering and overcoming her son’s autism diagnosis. The story is accompanied by a classical music soundtrack composed by Christian.
Excerpt from From Unlikely to Unlimited
I am intrigued by the story of “The Woman Who Willed A Miracle,” the true story of a woman, May Lemke, who adopted a six-month-old boy named Leslie who suffered from Cerebral Palsy. From unlikely circumstances miracles are found. They are hidden alongside the most difficult paths.
Some terrifying things happened to me as a young child. I made terrible choices into my teen years and was exploited while reaping the consequences of leaving home. In 1994, when I became pregnant with my son Christian, I had no idea what difficulties we would face. His biological father left before he turned six weeks old.
Looking back, I see an unlikely journey that led to miracles one choice at a time. My first choice was to parent Christian. Taking this road less traveled would include hardships, heartache, tears and loss. The result would be an exchange of strength, peace and hope beyond what I could have imagined.
At twenty-six years of age, I admitted I was powerless over addictions, selfishness, trauma and hundreds of painful memories. This begin a process of recovering years of brokenness and destruction. I also understood that I was powerless in dealing with Christian’s lack of function, sensoryisms and behaviors.
From 2002-2009 I apprenticed in neurodevelopment and worked with Christian to accelerate neurodevelopment. Little did I know how the exercises were affecting my healing – and our journey was astounding. Christian began writing music and learning various instruments. In 2011 Christian wrote a classical composition for an audition, but no name was yet chosen when he was moments from walking through the stage door.
He turned to me and said, “How about ‘In Good Hands’?”
I nodded and wrote the title quickly. He took the paper to the judges and played beautifully.
As we drove home, our silver Chevy Lumina slid off the road due to black ice. We flipped several times.
Our injuries were minor.
We were told there were 12 accidents on the same stretch of road due to a quick drop in temperature. We were one of the few families to walk away from the accident.
Christian looked at me as we walked away from the totaled vehicle and said, “We surely are in good hands, mom.”
After surviving exploitation, Stephanie Anderson began an apprenticeship in neurodevelopment while raising a child diagnosed with autism. This led to research in the neurology of exploitation and providing life skills remediation for those incarcerated. Stephanie is enrolled in Elevate Academy with Unlikely Heroes/Rebecca Bender Initiative. She believes in addressing causes and conditions to create successful reentry for those who have been incarcerated, trafficked or survived extreme trauma. In 2019, Stephanie networked in advocacy with ICC, International Justice Mission, Shared Hope, Survivor Alliance, and Glory for Ashes. She started Unlimited Learning Success in 2005 as a platform for training, workshops and Accel Academy classes for development.