I have focussed on our own experience as a family with a disabled child in this blog, but this morning I have gained a small insight into another aspect of disability from a TV drama called ‘Dont take my baby’. It is based upon true events but follows a disabled couple – he is visually impaired and she is physically disabled, wheelchair bound. They have a baby together and immediately have to prove that they are capable of taking care of baby Danielle safely between them. The baby has to stay in hospital while they are assessed and filmed taking care of her, so they experienced a unique type of Baby Blues. Family members were interviewed and they were closely scrutinized, putting them under immense pressure and finally, they were told that they could take their baby home as they were deemed to be ‘good parents’.
Many aspects of this drama made me think ( and weep of course!) : The mother apologized to her daughter, she was sorry that her disabled parents might hold her back in life, which I found painfully sad. She made a video for her daughter as she had an uncertain life expectancy and was not expected to survive into her baby’s childhood. The father was devastated that he might have his baby taken away as well as losing his wife prematurely. They also had the added concern that their daughter might have inherited their disabilities and that the decision to become parents coud be perceived as a selfish one – as it turned out in this case, she had inherited her father’s visual impairment but not her Mum’s muscle wasting condition.
I was also struck how much close attention they received from Social Services due to their disabled status, while their deep love for their daughter was evident. How many babies that are born to ‘normal’ parents slip through the net? They do not have to prove their worth before being allowed to take their babies home and some will be more vulnerable than this baby born to disabled parents. These parents both had physical, visible reasons why they might not be good parents, due to their disabilities rather than a lack of care, but those with hidden issues can escape the radar of Social Services, as several high publicity tragic cases have shown.
The drama ended with a happy conclusion for this family but it explained that 11,000 such assessments of disabled parents would take place in the next 12 months, so this is not a rare event, families are going through this agony everyday and until now, it is not something that I had given any thought to.