**24. The most heart-wrenching aspect of all of this is that, when a couple, one or both of whom are blind, goes through all kinds of red tape and are finally told that yes, they can adopt a "special needs child," they are caught in a catch22. If they say yes, they are playing the system's stereotyping, but if they say no, there's another person possibly like them, being rejected by whom--*them*. They already know what it is like to be rejected, and they don't want to do what has been done unto them, so then what do they do? It's really sad. Sure, they could sue and fight for the right to adopt a "normal" child, but they would never forget the "special needs" child offered to them from whom they walked away. Really sad predicament.
Lauren Merryfield Washington USA
**25. Sometime about a year ago, I was discussing this issue with a blind acquaintance of mine, who wanted to adopt a child herself. She told me, as a rule blind
people are not allowed to adopt children here (in the Netherlands), because they are believed not to be able to build stable families. From one point, I can understand the agencies need for good adoptive parents, for many children who need to be adopted, have a problematic birth family.
But it really makes me angry that adoption agencies judge someone to be an unqualified parent just because they're blind. To me, each parent - sighted or blind or whatever - differs and it's quite discriminating to say that blind people are not allowed to adopt children. But
yeah, it seems to be usual here and unfortunately there are hardly any rules or laws protecting disability rights - let alone something blind potential
adoptive parents can refer to (but according to earlier responses adoption agencies in the U.S. appear to be allowed to discriminate in this way, too).
Anyways, to me blind people definitely don't have the same chances where it comes to adoption as sighted people.
Astrid van Woerkom Netherlands
**26. It is interesting to know that my husband and I aren't alone in trying to build a family. Since adoption seemed so out of reach for us, we have been trying
to have our children via gestinational carrier (our biological child carried by another). In our search for a carrier, we had the challenge to convince average women that we could parent a child effectively. It was very similar to the open adoption process and trying to convince that birth parent that we were capable. We are still working to get started on our baby. We hope to be parents before John retires and I am living in a nursing home.(smile)
Marcia Beare Martin Michigan
**27. My wife and I are both blind, although each of us have some usable vision. We have adopted 3 children, one, our oldest in 1987 through a private adoption
and the most recent two through child Protective Services. the latter two are 25 months and 17 months of age. These 2 children were placed with us as foster children. We are licensed by the State of Texas for Foster care and Adoption.
We have encountered some reluctance, resistance and even outright discrimination due to a number of factors, including but not limited to blindness. In
one case it was due to our religious affiliation as well as my wife's being diabetic with complications. There has also been age and of course discrimination
because of blindness. We have not been limited to or pressured to care for or adopt children with any type of disability. I think part of this is our history
of successfully caring for adopted children and to some extent our own advocacy.
About two years ago we were licensed by Child Protective Services as a Foster Care and Adoption resource. It took about a year after meeting all requirements
that we received our first placement. This was due mostly to blindness, I assume, although age probably was the secondary factor. A caseworker seemed reluctant
to complete the home study update. Finally, we went down to see a Supervisor, or it may have been the CPS director. We expressed concern about the delay
and offered any information that might expedite the placement consideration. I took a positive approach rather than a pre-litigious one. I decided to talk
with this person about budget issues and shared that I directed a division of a State Agency. She and I got along real well and the following week the
home study was completed. I like to think that our meeting and approach had something to do with this. About 8 years ago, however, I had to write a letter of complaint to a Board of Directors of a private Adoption agency. The Director in a phone conversation
and follow up letter stated and even referenced to some extent in the letter that our religious affiliation, blindness, diabetes and age were factors
that would preclude us from adoption, even though we had successfully adopted a few years earlier. We withdrew our application and demanded our initial
fees. This request was denied, but reversed by the Board. a member who is a lawyer, called me and apologized, stating that the agency did not discriminate
and that its position was misrepresented by the unfortunate comments of the Director. He asked me if there was anything he could do and requested I not
sue the agency. We got our money back and a nice letter of apology and decided not to take legal action because of the response of the Board of Directors
of the agency.
I have heard of situations where blind persons have been discouraged from adopting and even having children. I have even heard of cases where family members
have attempted to get children removed from a home presumably based on parents blindness. I am aware that organizations like NFB have been involved in
advocacy where warranted. I am also aware of situations where persons who are blind have had children removed for reasons other than blindness, including neglect and abuse. Of course
there are many other cases involving persons who are sighted. In most of the latter cases if a child is taken out of the home it will not make the news, unless it is something very dramatic. And usually the neglect or abuse is not attributed to having vision, whereas when involving a blind portents it usually is at least included. Additionally, the typical generalization of blind people not being able to take care of children, adopt children or have children comes up. so we as blind persons again need to be aware that our behavior, good or bad will always have the potential to impact others in our minority group. I am told that one Ethics Professor at a major University promotes the abortion and even infanticide of children based on the singular issue of blindness.
He justifies this by concern over the certainty of unhappiness and lesser quality of like that the child would face if nature took its course. We need to advocate for the same rights including that of adoption as others in society are given, along with the same responsibilities insofar as our children are concerned.
Ed Kunz Austin Texas, USA
**28. Sorry, I've been a bit out of touch, but this particular thought
provoker seems to have come at a very appropriate time.
Melanie and I are right now looking into the adoption process and have
decided that we'd like to adopt a child from Ukraine. And honestly, we
aren't worried about the adoption agencies, the Ukrainian officials,
or anything of that nature--we're worried about the social worker who
will do our home study. This seems to be something that could make or
break the deal, and we know how difficult some social workers can be
as regards disabled people. Both of us are legally blind (Melanie has
some vision), and Melanie is also physically disabled with chronic
pain issues, so we've got our work cut out for us.
Really though, I do have a question. While I agree that we ideally
shouldn't be limited in our adoption choices any more than anyone
else, why would any of us reject the idea of adopting a special needs
child out of hand? Melanie and I, for instance, have decided that we
would welcome the chance to adopt a blind child or a child with
dwarfism, as these are both things that we can well identify with and
feel we may be able to help the child deal with and grow up with,
having had some experience with these disabilities in our own
lives. Sure, raising a disabled child may be harder than raising a
"normal" child. It may not, too. I expect the challenges are very
different. But who says raising a child is easy? No parent I've ever
met has, that's certain. But very few parents would disagree that
raising a child is one of the most wonderful and rewarding things that
one can do. And think of this, too. Biological parents may not
necessarily have chosen to have kids. Adoptive ones have. That has to
count for something.
Were Melanie and I Jack and Sharon, we would absolutely welcome the
idea. Everyone needs people that will love them. Maybe it's not the
picture postcard kid you're getting, but the kid still needs people to
love and to be loved by, and after all, what else are we here for
anyway? Yes, I agree that we shouldn't be pigeonholed into *only*
adopting special needs kids--but neither should we say that we'll take
the perfect kid or no kid at all.
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