By Ashley Taylor, disabledparents.org
People with disabilities come in all different shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds. Regardless of whether you’ve been disabled since birth or have acquired your disability over time, it doesn’t have to mean you can’t live a happy, healthy, joyful life. Although it might require some extra planning and perhaps some home modifications, it is certainly possible for disabled individuals to achieve their dream of becoming parents.
If you have a disability and are looking to embark upon the journey of parenthood, there are some steps you can take to prepare your life and your home. Here are some tips:
Fertility and Disability
Just like able-bodied individuals, people with disabilities might encounter fertility struggles. Some conditions including immune deficiency disorders are not known to cause significant fertility issues. Other conditions such as Down Syndrome, for example, can reduce fertility. If you have a condition that reduces fertility or if you’ve not had luck conceiving naturally, you might consider in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. IVF is a common medical procedure that assists with fertility. Medical professionals manually fertilize an egg outside the body. Afterwards, the fertilized egg is implanted inside the uterus. According to Qunomedical, “The success and availability of in vitro fertilization have given hope to many infertile couples who have not been able to conceive. Since 1978, 5.4 million babies have been born worldwide with the help of IVF.”
Of course, natural conception and in vitro fertilization are just two options. You might also consider adoption or surrogacy for starting a family. As you plan, consider which options will work best for your unique situation.
Planning for Parenthood
It’s never too early to start preparing your lives and your home for parenthood. Consider home modifications to make your home safer for your family and future children. All parents, whether able-bodied or not, must ensure their homes are well-lit and free from tripping hazards. If you’re planning to move before you welcome a baby into your home, consider a home that has a bedroom at bathroom on the ground floor (or consider a one-story home, if possible). Be sure to invest in fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and first-aid kits.
You should also consider modifications to assist you with parenting duties. For instance, if you are in a wheelchair, there are now wheelchair-accessible cribs, changing tables and even baby carriages. Even with a disability, you can modify your home so you can enjoy the same parenting experiences as able-bodied parents.
Remember to do some financial planning, too. Like all parents, you should have health insurance, life insurance and start saving a nest egg to help fund your family. Pay down your debts as much as possible, buy second-hand items and save up for unexpected emergencies.
Resources for Disabled Parents
Having support along the way is helpful for all parents, especially those with disabilities. Here are just a few of the many excellent resources for disabled parents:
Disability Resources on the Internet. This guide includes information for parents with disabilities.
Through the Looking Glass (TLG). This nonprofit organization offers training, research and services for parents and others with disabilities.
National Federation for the Blind (NFB). This is an excellent resource for vision-impaired parents.
It can be difficult living with a disability but that doesn’t have to shatter your dreams of parenthood. Plenty of disabled parents have successfully raised children who’ve grown up to be healthy adults leading happy, fulfilling lives. Best of all, becoming a parent can transform your life in beautiful ways. The resources listed above can assist you on your journey. Good luck!
Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven’t stopped them from leading a happy, fulfilling life.
Find out more about disabledparents.org at disabledparents.org
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.