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Stories of people who have been under guardianship or had their rights restored shine a light on the impact of guardianship and the need for less restrictive alternatives. We are talking with individuals across North Carolina who have lived experience with guardianship and will share their stories here.


Various individuals share the rights that mean the most to them and why it is so important to maintain these rights.


Tylor Freeman shares his powerful experience of getting his rights reinstated after losing guardianship. 


Janie Desmond and Suvya Carroll live together in Durham, North Carolina. Through the use of Supported Decision-Making, neither of them has a guardian, and they are able to live independently and make their own decisions. 

Bill Donahue and Deborah Woolard share the story of their choice to not seek guardianship for their son, Jeremy Woolard Donahue, who has Down Syndrome. 

Carol Kelly shares the story of her mother, Mary Jane Mann, who was the victim of an inappropriate, predatory guardianship (conservatorship) in California. 

Jason Hines, now 33, grew up the youngest of six in a religious and supportive family in Winston-Salem, NC. When Jason was just 11, his dad died, and it was a difficult adjustment. Nonetheless, he loved music, wrestled and played football in high school, and looked forward to an adulthood accompanied by marriage, a nice house, and a career. In college, Jason began experiencing mental health issues… read more here and watch in his video how a positive experience with guardianship led to greater autonomy and the restoration of his rights. 

Sean’s story is a perfect illustration of a sad irony of the guardianship system. Born in the mid-1980s, he experienced a disrupted childhood that included domestic violence. Although he may have had developmental delays—he asks, “Am I on the [autism] spectrum?”— he has graduated from high school and is enrolled in an associate’s degree program at a community college to “take my life to a whole ’nother level.” Sean’s father petitioned for guardianship… read more.


Robyn said, “When my mom died when I was just 15 years old, my mom was everything to me. I’m the youngest of five. My mom made it her mission to make sure that if anything ever happened to her, I would be taken care of.” … read more.

Maureen said, “When I was told that I should petition for guardianship, the first thing I thought of was ‘Guardian Angel’ – someone to protect you and guide you. It had no negative connotation attached to it.” And now? “I think guardianship should be used only if someone is comatose. The reality is that many people are not advanced enough as human beings to put someone else’s needs ahead of their own.” … read more.

The telling of Peggy’s story begins at the end, when she had her last conversation with the new Assistant Clerk of Court in this North Carolina County: Recently, when asking for help to see her twin sister Jean after three years of being blocked from doing so by Jean’s guardian, despite a recent court order explicitly stating that she had the right to see her sister, the Clerk stated … read more.