"They’re not disabled Mummy and Daddy - They’re Mummy and Daddy."
(David, four-year old boy talking about being adopted at three months old by parents with Cerebral Palsy). San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 1991.
David believes there is nothing wrong with being raised by a mum and dad who use a wheelchair. David accepted his adoptive parents’ physical limitations from the time he was a baby. He adjusted by crawling to his mother’s wheelchair instead of waiting for her to pick him up. David does not have a disability.
The adoption occurred in America where the rights of people with a disability to become parents is more accepted and is backed up by a comprehensive structure of policies and services specifically geared towards parents with a disability. In Australia, parents with a disability are faced with a tough fight if they want to adopt a baby or child and services for parents with a disability are much more limited.
The idea that people who have a disability are capable and competent people to raise children, challenges established assumptions that people with disabilities should not become parents. This section explores the issues and barriers facing people with disabilities who want to be parents and those who already are parents with a disability.
Parents with a disability face both physical and attitudinal barriers in addition to the daily challenge of raising children, for example being unable to attend the baby health centre because it is not physically accessible to a wheelchair-using parent.
Coping with Child Protection landing on your doorstep with a complaint against you because a neighbour disapproves of you being a parent with a disability further adds to your frustration.
There is much anecdotal evidence indicating that parents with a disability face barriers from service delivery organisations, as well as broad social, economic and political barriers every day of their lives.
Common problems raised by parents include: