It is heart rending to
see how disabled parents are treated in our social framework; they often lose
their right to parenthood.
The 445 page report
issued by National Council on Disability revealed the miserable plight of the
In the United States,
nearly 1 out of 10 kids have a disabled parent. Out of these parents, around
4.1 million had kids below the age of 18 years. People in general believe that
individuals with physical or mental disabilities should not raise kids or
should be denied of parenthood.
Robyn Powell, an
Attorney at the Council has arthrogryposis, a disease affecting muscles and
joints and impairs normal activities.
Powell is confined to
a wheelchair and at the age of 31; she is childless.
Despite her intense
desire to bear kids, the doctors have advised her not to have children. Robyn
Powell said, "I have been offered a hysterectomy more times than I can count,"
says Powell. "It's like they're doing me a favor. I say, I think I'm going to
need my uterus. But society as a whole views people with disabilities as
incapable of raising kids."
According to the
report by "Rocking the Cradle", an organization aimed at protecting the Rights
of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children, it was noted that parents with
disabilities are widely discriminated as far as family laws, child welfare,
child adoption and infertility treatment are concerned.
An astonishing fact
was highlighted by Powell, who mentioned that disabled individuals are more
adaptable naturally and they have an upper edge if given a chance to raise
In spite of the
initiatives taken by the US Congress by passing the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) in 1990 to safeguard the rights of disabled parents, no significant
change has been noticed in the predicament of disabled parents.
The rate of
termination and separation of parenthood is 80 percent in disabled children.
Ari Ne'eman, the
famous autism-rights activist mentioned, "Parents with disabilities continue to
be the only distinct community that has to fight to retain — and sometimes gain
— custody of their own children."
It is seen that
besides disabilities, sickness is also an important reason for losing legal
cases as far as custody of children is concerned. Alaina Giordano, a N.C.
mother lost her legal battle for possession of child custody due to her
A positive change and
appreciation for the efforts are the need of the time.
Robyn Powell said, "We need to shift the
presumption that people with disabilities are unfit to raise families. We need
to assume they are capable and we need to support them."