Although the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to protect those with disabilities, two-thirds of child welfare laws justify disability as means for removing a child from its home and terminating parental rights. Parents with disabilities are losing their children at a rate as high as 80-percent.
Erika Johnson gave birth to her first child two years ago. After discovering that both Johnson and her husband are blind, the nurse called social services and their daughter, Mikaela, was taken from them for 57 days. A report issued by the National Council on Disability shows how disabled parents experience discrimination and that 1 in 10 U.S. kids have a parent who is disabled. It’s been believed that parents with intellectual or physical disabilities are unable to raise kids.
Robyn Powell, an attorney at the Council, has been offered hysterectomies on several occasions due to her arthrogryposis that has placed her in a wheelchair. She believes, however, that parents with disabilities may have an easier time adjusting to having children as they are used to having to adapt on an everyday basis.
Two and half year old, Mikaela, has proven that children can adapt to disabled parents as well. At as early as 9 months, she would guide her parents’ hand to a bottle to let them know she was hungry. Johnson and her husband use a talking thermometer when Mikaela is sick and have labeled games in Braille so they can help her learn.
“We need to shift the presumption that people with disabilities are unfit to raise families,” says Powell. “We need to assume they are capable and we need to support them.”
Read more of this story on TIME’s website.
BWMK– What are your thoughts on disabled parents and their ability to raise kids? Do you personally know of any disabled parents who have successfully raised children?