New Cowlitz County health director: ‘We are all entitled to have a life’

This story appeared in The Daily News on January 26, 2017.

588a9f9361cff-imageChris DesRosier was 10 years old when her mother went to the hospital to give birth — and returned without a baby.

Her newborn brother had Down syndrome. DesRosier said his doctors took him away to be institutionalized in a state facility, where all people with developmental disabilities stayed in the 1960s. The incident became a catalyst for her decades-long career in social work and mental health.

As director of Cowlitz County’s Health and Human Services Department, DesRosier as of this month took charge of homeless funding contracts. And she said her love for social work and compassion for the vulnerable was born from her brother.

“We are all entitled to have a life,” DesRosier said.

“I’m trying to understand this as a 10-year-old. Who can do that to you, Mom? It’s your baby. Who can do that to you?” DesRosier said. “You went and had a baby, and somebody other than the parents took that from you. Go get that baby. Who does that? Go get that baby.”

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