Tag Archives: disabled parents

Recommended Reading for August 31, 2010

Pamela Paul for the New York Times: Can Preschoolers be Depressed?

In the winter of 2009, when Kiran was 5, his parents were told that he had preschool depression, sometimes referred to as “early-onset depression.” He was entered into a research study at the Early Emotional Development Program at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, which tracks the diagnosis of preschool depression and the treatment of children like Kiran. “It was painful,” Elizabeth says, “but also a relief to have professionals confirm that, yes, he has had a depressive episode. It’s real.”

Mary Crawford for the APA Monitor: Parenting with a disability: The last frontier

Social psychologist and bioethicist Asch says that a lack of familiarity may be one reason for professionals’ biases toward people with disabilities. “Very few professionals know people with disabilities as peers,” says Asch, who teaches at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass. “Their only contact with people with disabilities is in a crisis situation, where the professional is [called on for help]. So the notion among some professionals is that people with disabilities always need help and can never give help or nurturance to another human being or provide a child with security or protection.”

Naomi Jacobs for the Guardian‘s Comment is Free: Disabled people do have sex lives. Get over it.

This is not a story about “taxpayers’ money” – most disabled people who have local authority-funded care plans are only allowed to spend these on basic services such as help with washing and dressing. What it is really about is moral outrage over an isolated case, which is also a smokescreen for much more disturbing attitudes towards disabled people’s lives.

CBC News: Down Syndrome group slams Emmys

“With race, sexual orientation and disability, you are talking people’s core identity — things that are unchangeable,” she said. “What do we get out of making fun of things that people cannot change, other than degrading them and making them feel they are not part of society.”

Amber Dance for the Los Angeles Times: In the Works: Microneedle patches could take the sting out of shots

The Band-Aid-like patches, coated with microscopic needles, generally don’t hurt. Moreover, they may actually work better at delivering vaccines and some medications, according to recent research.

Recommended Reading for 05 August 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

Raising My Boychick: Vocally crazy: on privilege and the risks and benefits of being out

Openness, vocalness, outness are good for an invisible, marginalized group: we’re here, we’re [crazy], get used to it! It helps to replace highly distorted stereotypes with real faces, real lives, real persons. As more and more people in a group are out, more and more people not in that group know someone who is — and suddenly, they start caring. No longer is it just “those people” who have to worry about discrimination and hatred and violence and the loss of rights and dignity; it is someone you know, someone you might care about, someone you’re willing to stand up for. These are all very good, very important things.

But openness, vocalness, outness can be dangerous, even lethal, for an individual who is marginalized: when someone comes out as mad (or queer, or trans, or a rape or incest survivor, or any other oft-invisible oppressed way of being), they might risk losing their job, losing their children, losing their life. Outness cannot be dictated, imposed, or required. It must not be. It can only be chosen, based on an individual assessment of risk and worth, and the outcome of such calculations will change with each individual, and often with each situation.

Longwindania: PSA

One of my friends is working on a sexual education book for people with disabilities and their partners. Shanna’s very knowledgeable and passionate about responsible queer-positive, disability-friendly, kink-friendly sex education.

Disability on Dreamwidth: New licenses premises access law in Scotland

The Barred! amendment, passed by the Scottish Parliament as part of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act, requires landlords to show how their premises can be accessed by disabled customers, when they apply for a license. The amendment is an important milestone in Capability Scotland’s Barred! campaign which aims to promote better access to pubs and clubs for disabled people.

Valley News: Temporary Custody

The unknown male subject found in the home? He was actually the 34-year-old African-American who owns the home and has lived there for four years.

And the part about taking him into temporary custody?

Hartford police neglected to say that in the process he was: blasted with pepper spray; struck with a nightstick; handcuffed, wrapped in a blanket and hauled — naked — out of his home, according to a neighbor and what the man says police later told him. When the neighbor tried to tell cops that the handcuffed man on the pavement was the homeowner — not a burglar — he said he was threatened with arrest for interfering in police business.

Moving Hands: Ashley Fiolek: a deaf motocross racer (Thanks to maxporter for the link!)

Today, I watched the final womens motocross race. I was about to fast-forward through it – I dislike motocross and I dislike racing, so it’s not a great combo. But then I noticed that someone was signing, so I hit “play.”

Turns out that the woman who was signing is named Ashley Fiolek. She is a deaf 19-year old who has won gold in the past. The segment that I’d seen was one of those special segments where they take a prominent athlete – usually somebody who is looking to repeat a previous victory – and interview her or him. In this case, they asked Ashley how she got involved in motocross and so forth. She communicates in ASL and uses an interpreter. (According to her bio on Wikipedia, she actually went to a deaf school as a child.)

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com

The Cautionary Tale of the Kehoe Twins: Is This About Surrogacy, or Whether or Not Disabled Women Can Parent?

Note: This post has been edited to include Amy Kehoe’s correct diagnosis, which was erroneously stated as schizophrenia in an earlier version. I apologize for the error and for not fact checking more thoroughly before publishing. -meloukhia

A story is brewing in Michigan.

Amy and Scott Kehoe wanted babies, but couldn’t have them on their own. So they selected egg and sperm from donors and made arrangements for a surrogate. In Michigan, paid surrogacy is not legal, and the law on surrogacy contracts is slippery, with details primarily being handled by doctors. However, the Kehoes and their surrogate, Laschell Baker, worked out an agreeable arrangement within the framework of existing law.

All went well until Laschell was supposed to surrender the resulting twins to the Kehoes.

Amy Kehoe has a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (NOS).

Laschell Baker has a problem with that. Or, she decided that she wanted to keep the children, and felt that using mental illness as the fulcrum for the case would be the best way to win, which brings up an entirely new set of issues about surrogacy and the public perception of mental illness.

Because Michigan tends to support surrogates rather than the people who contract with them in custody disputes, Laschell Baker won custody of the twins. The Kehoes decided not to fight it, giving up the opportunity to raise the children they thought they would be adopting and had prepared for because they felt that they could not win the case.

Surrogacy itself is a very complicated issue with a lot of feminist implications; I’m not discussing it here because I don’t want this post to balloon into an epic pile of words, not because I don’t think it’s important. There are a lot of things going on with this case, many of which merit discussion in a feminist environment, I’m just focusing on one particular angle today, which is one disability issue: Whether or not women with disabilities are competent parents, according to society. There’s also another disability issue here, of course, embedded in the use of donor eggs and sperm selected for “intelligence.”

In this case, when mental illness was brought up, Kehoe’s doctor wrote a letter in her support, arguing that she would be an excellent parent. Social services freely said that mental illness is not a barrier to adoption when it’s clear that a parent is making regular doctor’s appointments, taking medication, and demonstrating that the mental illness is clearly being managed. As far as child services is concerned, Amy and Scott would make great parents. They would be allowed, for example, to adopt or foster.

Yet, custody still went to Laschell Baker.

This case is being framed in the media as an example of the complicated issues surrounding surrogacy and the fact that it is largely unregulated. “Painful implications if surrogacy goes awry,” says the Seattle Times. “Surrogacy: Testing the Boundaries of Third-Party Reproduction,” reads the title of a slide show in the New York Times featuring the Kehoe case (related story, for those interested in reading it, is “Building a Baby, With Few Ground Rules“). These are definitely issues which need to be discussed.

But what also needs to be discussed is the inherent ableism in this case. In this instance, Laschell appears to have decided that mental illness made Amy Kehoe unable to parent, if we are to believe the media reports. And talked in quite graphic terms about being worried about “what might happen” if Amy didn’t take her medication. This was clearly a wedge which helped to cinch the case.

In the media reporting, the reporters mention the fact that mental illness is not a barrier to adoption, but seem almost suspicious of this, and don’t discuss the obvious implications of this situation, in which the spectre of mental illness was used to argue that Amy Kehoe should not be allowed to parent.

There’s a widespread belief that people with disabilities cannot be parents. This is especially true in the case of mental illness, which is viewed as a barrier to parenting by many able people (and, often, by the government, which throws up plenty of barriers to parenting while disabled). Many of the articles I found seemed almost sympathetic to Baker, making sure to emphasize that she was “tricked” when Kehoe didn’t undergo psychological screening or disclose her mental illness. Kehoe, the implication goes, was under an obligation to prove her psychological fitness to be a parent, because she is disabled and therefore suspect when it comes to parenting skills. Presumably Baker did not undergo similar screening.

Is this case really about the murky waters of surrogacy law? Sure it is, in part. It highlights a lot of serious problems with a process which is not tightly regulated, or which is regulated with a very coarse framework which disserves more than it serves. And it brings up a whole host of ethical issues related to surrogacy, egg and sperm donation, and assisted reproductive technology.

But to my eye, the social implication of this case are about whether or not disabled parents should (continue to) be put on trial to prove that they can be parents. Whether or not disability should be evoked as a barrier to being a good parent. Whether disabled women, in particular, should be barred from parenthood. This case evokes forced sterilization and a host of other unpleasantries which have been perpetrated on disabled women to prevent them from having a chance to parent.

And that’s what troubles me about the case of these twins, who have been treated like pawns and objects in a very large and dangerous game.