Alice Wong interviewed Yomi Wrong for the Disability Visibility Project™ at StoryCorps San Francisco on April 11, 2015. In this clip, Yomi talks about the story of her birth and a girl named Delinda.
Yomi Wrong: So when I was born, in 1972, in Manhattan, I was… my mother did not know, in utero, that I had this disability and I had a lot of broken bones in utero, as do most children, babies that have OI [osteogenesis imperfecta]. And my mother had a vaginal birth which then broke the rest of my bones. [LAUGH] So I was born with my, both of my arms and legs broken, several ribs fractured skull, collapsed lung…and I was in pretty bad shape and I was not diagnosed initially with brittle bone disease.
Alice Wong: Oh wow.
Yomi Wrong: Instead, the way my family tells the story, my the doctors immediately thought that my mother was a victim of domestic violence or that she a drug addict.
Alice Wong: Mmm-hmm. Oh gosh.
Yomi Wrong: That she had done something to cause this.
Alice: Do you think obviously that race played a role?
Yomi Wrong: Oh I think it played a huge role.
Alice Wong: Yeah.
Yomi Wrong: So then fast forward, I remember being 5 or 6 and my Aunt and Grandmother were volunteers at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, and they would sometimes take me to, to the hospital with them to like, see how they volunteered, and they took me to the basement of the hospital and they said, “We want you to meet somebody. There’s a little girl here with OI.” My same disability.
Alice Wong: Wow.
Yomi Wrong: And she’s also black.
Alice Wong: Wow!
Yomi Wrong: And she was a little bit older than me and her name was Delinda.
Alice Wong: Okay.
Yomi Wrong: But Delinda lived at the hospital, because her parents had given her up.
Alice Wong: Oh my God.
Yomi Wrong: And I didn’t understand.
Alice Wong: Right.
Yomi Wrong: And they were, and I was very young, I was like five or six, maybe, seven, and they would explain, “Well, she lives here.” I’m like, “What do you mean she lives here?” They said, “Well, she, she doesn’t have a mommy or daddy. She, she lives at the hospital and the nurses and the doctors, they’re her family. They take care of her.” And, I remember meeting Delinda. There were other kids there but, like, they all fade from my memory. I don’t remember any other kid there except for Delinda. Because she looked so much like me.
Alice Wong: Yeah.
Yomi Wrong: And I remember she was in one of those pediatric hospital beds…that looked like a cage because they have high.
Alice Wong: High, high rails.
Yomi Wrong: The high rails.
Yomi Wrong: So they’re like a crib bed.
Alice Wong: Crib slash cage. Yeah.
Yomi Wrong: Yeah, but to my mind, at like six years old, I thought it was a cage.
Alice Wong: Yeah, yeah…from your vantage point.
Yomi Wrong: And, from my vantage point, I’m like, “Is she an animal?”
Alice Wong: Yeah.
Yomi Wrong: And I remember vividly her sticking her little hand through the rail to like shake my hand and talk, and she was very chipper and cheery and my aunt and grandmother loved her, and they would go visit her all the time, and I was frightened.
Alice Wong: Yeah, I mean, it’s really, you know, you’ve were five or six I’d imagine, it hits close to home.
Yomi Wrong: Yeah.
Alice Wong: Really understanding, this could have been you.
Yomi Wrong: There but for the grace of God.
Alice Wong: This could have been you.
Yomi Wrong: That could have been me. And then I…it, and so my whole life, I have wondered about this girl. And I heard from my aunt that Delinda eventually was adopted by a nurse. And I always wondered like what happened to her. I’m hoping to get my mom in this boot one day….
Alice Wong: I would love it.
Yomi Wrong: To talk about her experience of having me….
Alice Wong: Please do. Yeah.
Yomi Wrong: …and, and raising me. And, she talks about being a drift until she found a community of other parents that had children with disabilities, and, and I think that’s really powerful. And if I can say one thing for just ten seconds: “Delinda from the Bronx, New York, formerly of Jacobi Hospital, if you ever hear this and you’re listening, I’ve been thinking of you and I carry you in my heart always.”
Alice Wong: Thank you Yomi.
Yomi Wrong: Thank you.
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Disability Visibility Project™. (2017, May 11). DVP Interview: Yomi Wrong and Alice Wong. Retrieved from: https://disabilityvisibilityproject.com/2017/05/11/dvp-interview-yomi-wrong-and-alice-wong-2/
A photo featuring Yomi Wrong and Alice Wong taken on April 11, 2015. On the left is an Asian American woman in a wheelchair wearing a red hoodie and purple scarf. She has black hair, eyeglasses on, and a smartphone in her hand. On the right is a Black woman with short hair who is in a wheelchair. She is wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and a gold necklace. Both are smiling at the camera.
Produced for the Disability Visibility Project™ by Alice Wong with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the story of our lives. For more: www.storycorps.org and www.disabilityvisibilityproject.com