Introducing: Marine to Stay-At-Home-Dad, Andrew Ferguson, Civilian Male Military Spouse and Father of Twins
I recently came across an article that really made me stop and think "Could this really happen?" then it became "Oh Wait... They are talking about a Family like mine."
The Article I am talking about is a post from MrDad.com answering a a Veterns question "My husband and I both have disabilities. He is blind and I suffer from a traumatic brain injury I received serving in Iraq. I'm pregnant and we're due in about a month. We were both so excited, but a friend told us that there's a chance we could lose custody of the baby because we both have disabilities. Now, instead of looking forward to becoming parents, we're both in a panic. Is that true? If so, what can we do?"
Now I am not blind, and my Wife does not have a TBI. "How is this related to him then?", you ask?
I am physically disabled, I sustained an injury to my back and had multiple surgeries that have not really helped. Most days I hobble around and some days I get in my wheelchair and push myself around. I will post the responce that mrdad.com supplied to the original question.
Thank you so much for your question. I often hear from parents with special needs kids, but rarely from disabled parents themselves—which is surprising for two reasons:
First, there are more than four million parents in the US who have disabilities and children under 18.
Second, those parents are far more likely than non-disabled parents to have their children removed from their home or to lose their parental rights. Parents with disabilities are also more likely than non-disabled parents to lose their children in a divorce and they face many obstacles when trying to adopt.
I have to admit that this surprised me. I grew up in northern California, which has always been the center of the disability rights movement. And the Americans with Disabilities Act, which passed more than 20 years ago, was supposed to ensure that disabled people—including parents—have rights. But then I read an eye-opening report from The National Council on Disability (ncd.gov), called “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children.” The report shows that when one or both parents have a psychiatric or cognitive disability (which could include your traumatic brain injury), removal rates can be as high as 40 to 80 percent. In addition, “Parents who are deaf or blind report extremely high rates of child removal and loss of parental rights.” The report also tells a number of heart-wrenching stories of people with disabilities who had their children taken away and lost their parental rights.
The big issue, of course, is whether the children of disabled parents are more likely to be mistreated or less likely to be properly cared for than children of non-disabled parents. If the kids are in danger, I'm all for removing them. But the criteria should be the same whether the parents are disabled or not.
One of the best ways to determine how well parents do their job is to ask the kids. And that's exactly what two researchers at the National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families have been doing for several years. Paul Preston and Jean Jacobs have interviewed more than 1,000 people 17-21 who were raised by at least one parent with a significant physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disability. Fifty-eight percent said their experience having a parent with a disability was positive or very positive. Thirty-four percent said it was mixed, and 7 percent said it was negative. Doesn't sound much different from the answers kids with non-disabled parents would give.
Interestingly, most of the young people in the study said that having a disabled parent gave them some specific advantages over their peers, such as learning better life skills and resourcefulness, and becoming more compassionate and independent. Only 39 percent felt they had too many responsibilities at home.
Patrick is a stay at home dad to two boys 2 and 4 and husband to a Sailor. His 4 year old has a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and is busy taking him to therapies and appointments. Between those appointments and his own for chronic pain and failed back surgeries he volunteers with a local dog rescue, providing care to sick and injured rescued dogs. He also won the 2013 Naval District Washington Military Spouse of the Year from Military Spouse Magazine