Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Campaigns and Issues and Stuff, Part 1

Three things - incredibly important things - from the whole arena of disability rights that I want to talk about over the next couple of days (before I go off to France and maybe attempt wheelchair skiing. Or not, and save myself some dislocations. I haven't decided yet). Here's the first.

A friend of Fran Lyon's has said, on a couple of disability networking sites that I visit, that Fran has had her baby. (Fran's friend has given permission for the news to be shared.) This is a wonderful thing - a mother and baby have not been separated at the child's birth. Nonetheless, Fran has been driven out of the country by the oppressive and appallingly disablist treatment she's received at the hands of social services.

For anyone who doesn't know Fran's story, you can read the Telegraph's take on it here.

The terrifying issue of forced adoption affects a significat number of disabled parents, according to anecdotal evidence from networks I'm involved in, as well as stories and statistics. Co-incidentally, there's more on this in today's Guardian. Disability isn't specifically mentioned here, but a scary number of the cases they reference involve parents with mental health problems.

This situation is not OK. It is not acceptable for disabled people to be subjected to such horrific treatment, to have their children taken from them, to be denied of basic human rights because they might find it more of a challenge to be parents than non-disabled people (because of social barriers created by the same people who are taking their children away, of course - slightly ironic, really, but typical). Our society is infected with institutional disablism. Most people would think that these practices died out in the sixties, or that you can only find them in countries without democracy. They are going on here and now, and it's dreadful. Fran's case makes me ashamed to be a British citizen.

So, I wish Fran a wonderful, happy, safe life with Molly. But I want the British disabled community to protest against what has happened to her. I want us to act, so that disabled parents don't have to face this oppression anymore. I want insitutional disablism to end. How to act against this? I'm far less clear on that. There's so much disablism going on at the moment, so many things I want to campaign about but can't, that I'm slipping into a bit of unhelpful apathy. Well, this post is a start, I hope. Many congratulations, Fran.


stevethehydra said...

I'm guessing the other 2 are the JRC and either Brent Martin or that Ghanaian woman who was deported?

All stuff i've wanted to post on, but just felt a horrible sense of futility, that for all the passion i could summon up for my outraged ranting, it wouldn't be helpful...

There was another case a few months before Fran Lyon's, of a Welsh woman with AS whose baby actually was taken away at birth, on the strength of nothing more than (if i remember right) her GP saying that women with AS have a greater risk of postnatal depression (when actually there's no statistical evidence whatsoever for that). Unfortunately i lost the link to it (i think i heard about it on an autism forum, and the source was a Welsh local paper, but it seemingly never made the national press).

I think the vast majority of people actually disbelieve anyone who speaks out about the realities of institutional disablism, simply because they have it so ingrained in their heads that "that couldn't possibly happen in a present day democracy", so therefore anyone talking about it must be either paranoid and delusional or exaggerating...

Crystal said...

I'm quite torn about certain parts of that Guardian article.

On the one hand, the treatment of people with mental illness or former breakdowns is appalling. To think that those types of things are happening in twenty-first century democracies is just...shocking.

However, on the other hand, I've always had a problem with the way the California social services work because their concern for keeping the biological family together too often gets in the way of what seems to be the child's best interest. Drug- and alcohol-addicted parents are allowed chance-after-chance to clean up their lives and reunite their families. This sounds great, but too many parents are allowed to simply enroll in a rehab program and get their children back for a few months until the kids are thrust back into the foster system when the parent relapses. (I learned about this through my early childhood education courses and through a former co-worker who foster-parented and adopted more than ten drug-addicted babies/toddlers.) Perhaps the solution is in better rehab programs?

I wish I knew the answers, though. How on earth do we make a system that keeps the children safe while also respecting the rights of those with disabilities? Bah.

I DO see a big difference between parents with disabilities and parents who are addicted to methamphetamines or cocaine.

(Sorry...I've rambled too long! You got me thinking about this difficult issue!

Casdok said...

Its appauling.
Yes your post is a start.