Colin Farrell and ex-girlfriend Kim Bordenave petitioned to be co-conservators of their 17-year-old son James, according to a document obtained by Us Weekly. James, who was born in 2003, has been diagnosed with Angelman syndrome (AS) and is “nonverbal and has issues with his fine motor skills, making him unable to properly care for his own physical health and well-being and requiring him to need assistance in preparing food, eating, bathing and clothing himself,” according to the petition.
According to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, the rare genetic disorder that shares symptoms and characteristics with other disorders including autism, cerebral palsy and Prader-Willi syndrome. Caused by a loss of function of the UBE3A gene in the 15th chromosome, people with AS have developmental problems that become noticeable by the age of 6 to 12 months. “Other common signs and symptoms usually appear in early childhood like walking and balance disorders, gastrointestinal issues, seizures and little to no speech,” the Foundation’s website says. “Despite these symptoms, people with Angelman syndrome have an overall happy and excitable demeanor. An individual with AS will light up a room with their smile and laughter.”
With a co-conservatorship, Farrell and Bordenave will be able to access their son’s confidential records and make decisions about where he lives, his education, his medical care, and his social or sexual relationships. Their conservatorship hearing is set for September 27.
The celebrity couple, who split up when James was still a toddler, have been co-parenting for a long time, and have likely learned a system that works for them and their son. Parenting a child with special needs adds another layer of challenge to their situation, but their application for co-conservatorship is a testament to their shared dedication to James.
In 2017, Farrell (who also shares son Henry, 11, with ex Alicja Bachleda-Curú) talked about parenting a child with special needs at the annual summit and gala for Angelman syndrome research in Chicago hosted by FAST, the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics.
“The struggles of a child with special needs can be so brutal that they can tear at the very fabric of your heart, but the love shared and the pure strength and heroism observed is the needle and thread that mends all tears,” he told Today at the event.
Farrell also offered advice for parents with a child just diagnosed with Angelman syndrome or another special need.
“I would humbly say to parents of a child with a recent diagnosis of any disorder that while they may well be experiencing the death of one dream, that dream of having a healthy child, there are a thousand dreams and milestones that are yet to reveal themselves,” he told Today. “I would also say that my heart is with you all, along with my respect for you, for your children’s struggles and for the love that you have for your children and that I wish you all peace and support in the face of any adversities.”
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