Adoption And Blindness


Adoption And Blindness

     “Welcome to the Live Right Adoption Agency. You are Jack and Sharon? May I assist you to a seat?” said the receptionist.

     “Yes it is us. And, thank you , but no. We’ve got it.” Jack answered. He recognized right off that this woman was not the receptionist that had been here for all their previous visits he and Sharon had
made during the process to adopt a child through this agency.

     “Goldy! Move that tail!” Sharon said in a mock threatening tone to her husband’s dog. the body of the dog had spilled over into where her long white cane had found the front edge of the chair next to her husband.

     “That is a beautiful animal.” said the receptionist. “I am always amazed how easy that teamwork is made to look.”

     “Thank you.” said Jack, wondering how inquisitive this woman might be on the subject of blindness. He and Sharon had had more than the third-degree of questioning through out the lengthy evaluation process to qualify themselves for a child through this agency. Tonight they would find out the results and would know if their family would be expanded by one small new member. He and Sharon were hopeful that this agency would be the one to see their potential as parents; two other agencies they had tried had turned them down. Both he and Sharon were keyed up and maybe this woman’s questions would be a welcomed distraction.

     “RING,-RING!” The phone on the receptionist desk rang. “Excuse me.” She listened for a moment then said, “Mrs. Johnson and the panel will see you now. Follow me, please.”

     Jack and Sharon were seated with the four members of the evaluation panel around a circular table. After introductions all around, Mrs. Johnson was the first to speak up, “We might as well get to the point of the meeting. After long deliberation, it is our
opinion that we will assist you in the adoption of a child. Congratulations.”

     “Yes!” said Sharon. “Thank you.” said Jack.

     “After much deliberation we feel that out of our several programs we have discussed with you, that the one we will assist you with is the adoption of a qualified disabled child.”

     Jack and Sharon sat quietly for a moment, examining all the emotions that coursed through them. Before they spoke they knew they needed to collect their thoughts in order that their words would come out right.

e-mail responses to

**1. My response here will be from both sides of the coin--the side of the adoptive parents-to-be, and the side of an adoptee. First, in answer to your question as to whether or not the blind receive equal consideration when it comes to the issue of adoption, my answer is, "no". It seems here in this narrative, as is the case with other blind couples who have or are considering adoption, that people assume that the best fitting child would be one who has a disability. It comes back to the old statement, "who best to know how to deal with a disabled child than one or both parents who are disabled, themselves". I'm not saying that there are not any blind and disabled couples who would not or have not considered adopting a disabled child or one with special needs, as I'm sure that there are many who have considered and would at a drop of a hat. My answer only reflects that of a general statement. I'm also not saying that blind couples should not adopt a child with a disability, but they should have a choice as to whether they want to adopt a child with a disability or one who has no health or physical problems. I know a blind couple who adopted a blind child from Korea. I think it's wonderful that blind parents can even adopt in the first place, but I often wondered whether or not they had a choice in the matter. Since such a question of curiosity can be rather personal to a couple who's been wanting children and finally got one after nearly pulling their hair out over it, I didn't ask and never intend to. Yes, it may be true in some cases that a disabled couple may be the best fit to adopt a child with a disability like the couple's, however, it sometimes
isn't the best fit. Regardless of the disability or the couple not having a disability, the couple has to evaluate how equipped they really feel they are emotionally, psychologically, and financially to adopt and take full responsibility for a child of a different race than themselves, a child with a disability and what kinds of disabilities they're able to work with, etc. Beyond all that, they have to evaluate how they're going to respond if and when the child asks about their home country, their real parents and wanting to know who they are, etc. Whether you're talking about giving birth to a child or adopting a child, the preparedness or lack of preparedness or wherewithal to cope with the trials and tribulations does show in your actions. Even if a child is blind, they know from your tone of voice in how you answer a particular question or how you touch them. As they say, "actions speak louder than words". I'm not saying that couples will always be prepared for everything under the sun. What I am saying is evaluating your wherewithal to cope with things that are expected to be and things that were not expected to be. In reading the narrative, Jack and Sharon were wanting so much to adopt a child, but I don't think that they expected to be limited to only disabled children. As to whether or not they would have adopted a disabled child in the end or not, I cannot say, but I'm sure that they were wondering two things: "What kinds of disabilities are you talking about (cerebral palsy, blind, deaf)?" and "How equipped are we really to take full responsibility for a disabled child? Now, it's one thing if the panel was talking about blind children, as the couple would know how to deal with the situations that come up and how to help the child cope with the ignorance, insensitivity, discrimination, etc. However, if the panel was talking about children with other kinds of disabilities, then Jack and Sharon may not feel that they're equipped enough to take care of children with those other kinds of disabilities. Taking this another step further, though, who's to say that Jack and Sharon feel equipped enough to take full responsibility for a child who's blind like them? In Jack and Sharon's case, just because the couple is blind doesn't mean that they have the wherewithal to take responsibility for a blind child. The couple may have their own problems with discrimination, accommodations, or whatever. Then, you add a child's blindness in the mix and helping him/her cope with the same problems the parents are going through; that can create a lot more stress than one might expect there to be between blind parents and a blind child they just adopted. I would presume that they would have the wherewithal to deal with a child who's blind like them, but I'm one who looks at anything and everything possible to be taken into consideration rather than just jumping to an assumption. I'm a dark-skinned blind Asian who was adopted by a White sighted couple; I was eight years old when I was adopted. While my father took my blindness and other health problems with a grain of salt, my mother made a bigger deal of it verbally and nonverbally. She was the one who, excuse the expression, constantly bitched to my father about having to get a prosthesis for my right eye while he would just say, "okay" and walk away to end the conversation. Whenever I was sick with bronchitis or pneumonia, my father was the one who would finally tend to me upon my mother's refusal to get out of bed to help me calm the constant coughing down. After five years of being here in the States, my mother was the one who eventually told my father that she wished that she'd never adopted me and that she wished she could send me back. What I'm basically saying here is that, not only was she not as emotionally, psychologically, or financially equipped to take care of me and all the health problems I had as she thought she was, but she was not as prepared as she thought she was or would be for the struggles in getting me into public school and making sure that my teachers included me in classroom activities and had the same expectations of me as they would the sighted students. In addition to all that, nobody, including my father, understood covert racism when I would often tell them about being excluded from general conversations or being picked as a date in high school. According to my parents, the first possibility of my being excluded was due to being blind. While this was partially true, the major reason was due to race. I was not seen as an equal to my White counterparts racially as well as because of my blindness. I'm not saying that being adopted by a Black or Asian couple, or by a disabled couple would have been better, but it's a higher probability that such a family with such a mix would have helped me in understanding more fully why people in school were treating me the way they were or why I wasn't being picked for a date or prom. In short, there's no right or wrong answer as to what is the best match for blind couples like Jack and Sharon or for couples who are White, Black, or don't have a disability. Everyone, regardless of the kind or race of couple, should have the choice to adopt the kind of child they want according to their desires, abilities to care for the child, etc.
After all, when people go buy a car, they want one that they feel suits them best rather than
one the dealer feels will suit them best. So, why can't this be the same approach for all different kinds of parents wanting to adopt?

Linda USA

**2. “Do the blind receive equal consideration when the issue is adoption?”

Good question. Not knowing the thinking of the panelists, one will have to assume that they hashed out the pros and cons of the adopting couple and most importantly, the welfare of the child(ren). It would take someone special to raise a disabled child, I would like to think that they felt this couple was the best suited for raising a special needs child.

Angelica Phoenix area, Arizona USA

**3. I wonder what the motives of the adoption agency were. Did they think that Jack and Sharon couldn't adopt a child without a handicap? Was this one of the programs that were discussed with them? Jack and Sharon seemed to be negative to this. What kind of handicap were they talking about? Deafness, blindness or a brain disability? This is so open ended. I don't think I'd want to adopt a child who was handicapped just because I was. I think a child should go to a home of the person wanted who truly wanted this child and could give him the most love and a chance to have a good life.

Leslie Miller USA

**4. Actually, if I were to adopt a child, I would try for a blind child. In my opinion, the child would get a better understanding of what it means to be blind
from someone that's "been there and done that."




**6. The first thing that comes to mind is if the powers that be think that a blind couple can care for a disabled child with its special needs, why don't they feel that the same blind couple could care for a non-disabled child?

Andy Baracco USA

**7. It could go either way--I've heard of couples having a hard time when one or both people are blind, but I've also heard of other such couples having no problems. In this specific situation, my heart sank a little when I first heard the decision. However, after just a little thought, I realized the decision might actually signify confidence in the abilities of this particular couple--blind or not--because disabled children (depending on the number & severity of their disabilities) can require more care & bigger responsibilities than other children. Since the panel didn’t specifically say they were placing a blind child with this couple, if they clear the couple to adopt a child who is not blind or who has disabilities in addition to blindness, they are showing they believe the couple can learn how to care for this child.

Ronalene White California, USA

**8. Boy this really stirred me up. I knew something was going to happen. I am not surprised at the outcome. Jack and Sharon went into this interview apprehensive because of their past experiences with adoption agencies. The other agencies turned them down. How ever, this one did not, it just basically said, " if you want to take a " defective child" then that is okay with us, but we do not think you should have " our best, top of the line model" child.
I had this same experience years ago when I wanted to adopt before I met my wife Linda. I did not want to assume race would be a problem, since my interviewer was Black herself, and so am I. I was shown a adoption book of pictures, there were beautiful children in them. I noticed that there were only Black/White children, Asian/Black, Hispanic/Black and older white children from age 8 disabled and up. I asked what about adopting a healthy white child who really
needs a home. I found myself being analyzed for possible dangers to children. Afterwards, I was told that Black children were best reared in a Black home and too many white people were getting too many Black children and missing them up. But if I wanted to adopt, it would have to be an Mixed race child or a older disabled white child. I left the state agency and never attempted to adopt. Sharon and Jack are in the same boat. They want a child. They wanted a child they know they could love and feel connected to and proud of. They wanted to break away from the stereotypes associated with parenting disabled children. They considered themselves to be as good as any other adoptive parents. But society via the agency was enforcing these limitations on them regardless of their ability or wishes. If they accept a disabled child and all the problems that will come along with it, and the expenses, emotionally difficulties as well; then they can be parents. If they are willing to accept a " reject" then there is no problem. If they stand their ground and demand to be given the child of their choice, then they would go away with no children at all. I would walk away of I were Sharon and Jack. There is no need to adopt a child that they may not want or be able to feel comfortable with. Sure the world might say openly that they admire such a disabled family. But the truth is they ( the world) will not have to live with the problems nor worry about the future of their child when they are too old or no longer able to care for the child, who is now an adult out in a hostile world. I do not think that Sharon or Jack are too proud to adopt a disabled child. However, they should be allowed to pick and choose whatever child is available based on their vision of the "correct family" and not someone else idea of "correct family".

John Minnesota USA

**9. Hi,
Nearly all of the examples I can think of involve blind parents adopting a foreign, disabled child. I remember in one of the Kernel Books, someone said that if they (the adoption agency) allowed a blind couple to adopt a "normal" child, the child would sue them when they grew older, for forcing him/her to have "blind parents; oh how awful."

Lauren Washington USA

**10. I bet in most cases the blind would not be seen as capable of managing a child, yet alone their own lives. The blind will fase the same curtain of ignorance here as they can in many job settings.

Ron Uncle South Decota USA

**11. For five years, my husband and I have been attempting to build a family. The choices were many, so I briefly examined adoption. What an education. The first problem would be just getting through the home study. Then, getting a birth parent to select us as a possible parent for their gift, was another huge hurdle. We would be trying to convince two, separate parties of our competence. Then, another visually impaired friend shared her experience. She is also an M.S.W. and had interned with an adoption agency. They weren't open to her adopting at all. Now, we are pursuing a license in foster care. We need to have written plans of how we plan to get children to appointments, outings etc. In addition, we also need to get a clearance from our doctors. Since my parents also foster through this agency, the agency was open to giving us a chance.
The challenges are out there when trying to convince an unenlightened world that I can parent as safely as other people. The strongest asset in our favor is that I know accidents will and do happen. I don't take for granted that I will see the child climbing the TV or that I will see the child sneak from the house. We are taking precautions before an accident happens.

Marcia Beare Martin, Michigan USA

**12. For myself personally I would have told that agency that I was not interested in adopting from that agency under those circumstances. My logic would be simple. I live with and deal with my disability all day and all night. I understand why this makes me stronger, and I well understand the pitfalls I experience both because of the things I can and cannot do and because of the attitudes of those around me. But I know that I integrate well with non-disabled people. By giving me a child who is disabled, you send the message that I am incapable of caring for a non-disabled child. As well, by giving me a disabled child, depending on the disability you are potentially providing me with greater challenges than I might face in raising a non-disabled child. Thus, at some level, you are setting me up for failure. Also, there is a theory that I will be more understanding of the needs of the disabled child. While this may be true, I do not want to live "disability" 24 hours a day. If I were able to have my own child I am certain that it is not written in my genes that because I married and am disabled that during my pregnancy I can only produce disabled children. By your agency's logic, all mothers who are disabled should have their birth-children taken away because by their own definition birth-mothers cannot care for them. So perhaps your agency needs to do some learning before you agree to work with disabled parents interested in adopting.
Perhaps you need to figure out whether they are qualified, and then allow the adoption as long as it is clear that the parents are well functioning individuals. Since your agencies representatives are not disabled your agency cannot adequately or accurately predict how well any disabled parent will do in raising this child. But to deny us as a couple because of your prejudice about disability makes you an unacceptable agency to work with. I would rather have no child than be restricted by your prejudice. But I know that many disabled parents have raised children successfully. I will direct my attention toward educating agencies so that in the future disabled possible candidates will be given the chance to adopt and provide available children with a home, shelter, and love. Consider one other thing. You would never tell a sighted family they could only adopt a disabled child. Unless you are prepared to restrict non-disabled people from access to children through adoption, I cannot ever acknowledge that your decision was made fairly and without prejudice. It is, therefore, as I earlier stated, an unacceptable decision and one I am prepared to reject.

Jeanette Quincy, Massachusetts USA

**13. I've been a social worker for over 29 years, the first 12 of which were in the adoptions program of a private child welfare agency. This is a difficult thought-provoker to which to respond because I have first-hand knowledge of the trends. In the 1970's healthy, white infants became increasingly difficult to adopt. Factors contributing to the decline in available babies include access to oral contraception, legalization of abortion, and the diminished stigma associated with out-of-wedlock pregnancy which enabled many to choose to rear their unplanned child. I took inquiry calls from hundreds of would-be adoptive parents over the years. During most of the year the waiting list even to apply was closed. People called with such frequency, many calling again and again to see if the list were open, that when it did open up it was only for a day or two. At the agency were I worked there was no evaluation panel, but there were placement meetings with the counselors in the problem pregnancy unit. It was not enough for me, or whomever studied a given family, to be comfortable with them. The unwed parents' counselor had to enable them to become comfortable with the placement choice, as there were given non-identifying information about the couple to whom their child would be going. To single parent applicants and those with disabilities they were steered into considering a "special needs" child, either one with a disability or one who was older and had a background of neglect and abuse and who had emotional problems. Yes, in a sense it was discriminatory, but we did try to give such families a chance. We had one couple in which the husband was blind. The couple was willing to take a special needs child, and was placed on an interagency waiting list. Every time their study was sent out to another agency it was rejected, and usually the reason was the man's blindness. My fellow-staff members knew me, but people from other agencies didn't and the final decision rested with them. I know the couple sued our agency for discrimination because they believed they weren't presented positively enough. My confidentiality obligations prevented me from getting involved. I don't know what the outcome was because I left there early in 1982. I hate to put it this way, but nowadays only the "cream of the crop" are considered for infants, and anybody with what the general public would consider a definite liability weren't even considered. It wasn't just a disability issue. Couples over 40 were not given healthy, white infants; neither were couples with more than one child. The rules were more flexible for black and other minority parents and for those willing to take hard to-place children. Given the realities I don't know if it would ever be possible for the agencies to allow a disabled, not just blind, person to adopt an infant. That's the reality.

Susan Knight

**14. The second part of the scenario was so predictable I felt my stomach knotting up, even before I read it. Why don't we stick to our own kind? When I applied for my first job, I was told that I should be steered into something more appropriate ... like working with others like me. At that time, I hadn't even met anyone "like Me".
Discrimination in adopting children is particularly nasty because it's impossible to demonstrate your ability to raise children. There's no probation, no trial work period, and no pre-parenthood test. If there were, I don't know that parents who are blind would come out any better at raising kids with disabilities than any other parent would. Nevertheless, the sighted world wants us to know our place. My sighted ex and I had one child, and, of course, I thought he was the most beautiful kid in the whole wide world. The social worker at his school asked me if he was adopted. At first I thought she was saying "how can a funky lady like you get such a beautiful boy like him? When we chatted a bit more, I discovered she meant that she didn't think people with disabilities ever had children. Sighted people can be so bizarre. On a good day, I just laugh.

Abby Culver City California USA

**15. Yes, I feel people with disabilities deserve equal consideration when adopting. However, in the real world, this is not always so. I know of a deaf couple who wanted to adopt. There was no way they could adopt through an agency. They were very fortunate because they met a deaf woman who wanted to give up her baby. So it worked out for them. People with disabilities can be wonderful parents. My husband is deaf/blind and I am deaf. We have three wonderful children and I believe we have good parenting skills.

**16. I'm kind of confused. Is the adoption agency saying that a match can only be made between disabled parents and a disabled child? That's like saying black couples can adopt a black child or a Spanish child only belongs with Spanish parents. That's discrimination. I used to think a lot about the possibility of adopting a child myself, but then I thought 'Who's going to give a child to a disabled parent?" Apparently, I'm right. It seems Social services would rather a child be an orphan than with good, caring, loving parents, as Jack and Sharon seem to be.

Patricia Hubschman New York USA

**17. Admittedly not having gone through the experience myself, but having seen other blind people succeed as adoptive parents, I know that sometimes, the blind do receive fair treatment from adoption agencies; but in this case, I believe Jack and Sharon did not, since the agency determined that their child was to be a "qualified disabled child." Let me hasten to say that disabled children, with the children's disabilities, are more difficult to care for; so really, this particular adoption agency certainly had not assumed that Jack and Sharon were unable to care for children. But why did the agency select a "qualified disabled child" for Jack and Sharon? This is the problem which we as blind people have had for, roughly, the past 15 years, ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law: We have been judged to be not so much incompetent, but we have been lumped in with the disabled (i.e., with anyone having an outward characteristic, indicating that he/she is unable to do something). This has removed concentration on blindness-related issues in the organized blind, to a great extent, and has emphasized people in wheelchairs. Not only are those in wheelchairs classified as disabled, but also the blind, the deaf, the mute, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally retarded, anyone with back, spinal, or other injuries - in short, anyone with an impairment is considered disabled, with society compelling him/her to think negatively, that he/she is unable to do something, rather than to think positively, that he/she will find ways around obstacles. Returning to adoption, why is it assumed that the blind can care for and should associate with only these allegedly disabled people? Is it because the allegedly able-bodied want nothing to do with us? Is it because that, in this case, the adoption agency assumed that a disabled child would require less effort for Jack and Sharon to care for? The answers to both questions, I believe, is yes.

Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas

**18. we were denied a child, any child, all children! My wife and I applied for years. We had 4 home assessments and even though we were model citizens, both working, a clean well organized home environment, we were still denied. Always it was something like, not enough children right now or your financial situation did not fit some criteria or blab-blab-blab. Only one worker told us what I believed was the truth and that was we were blind and it was not felt we could adequately manage a child and she didn’t even specify sighted or blind. Finally we gave up. Last year my loving bride passed and in our 35 years of marriage didn’t et to experience the loving joy of raising a child.

Hank and my loving wife, Sue

**19. In reading the responses, one thing that struck me were a couple responses regarding grown up adopted children who are not disabled going back to sue the adoption agency for being given to disabled (blind in this case) parents as a reason for the adoption agency giving prospective adoptive parents who are disabled, themselves, disabled children. This whole idea is a new one on me, but I suppose that there might be some grown adopted children who might do that. Sure, I've had problems with my adopted parents as they have had problems with me, and I've often wished that I was never adopted. However, unlike my adopted mother who wished she could send me back and wanted to sue the agency and orphanage from where I came, I would never sue the agency or the orphanage for having given me to a couple in which one parent regretted having adopted me. For one thing, it's not worth all the BS. Second, it doesn't solve what has happened in the family in the past. Third, to get even like that is just not right. as they say, "two wrongs don't make a right". The best thing I did to get even was to become an officially naturalized citizen and stay in the States permanently rather
than return to the Philippines to remain a Philippine citizen.

Linda USA

**20. I am a Caucasian who is blind due to Diabetes. When my sighted husband and I began the pursuit of adopting a child about 15 years ago, we were turned down by agency after agency. We filled out unending application forms and sent in application fees to local, State, out of State and foreign agencies all to no avail. The concerns expressed were my long term Diabetes, my ability to care for a child due to my blindness, and age (I was 37 at the time). Many agencies denied us because it is now common for birth parents to play a role in choosing adoptive parents. I had to admit that if I were placing my baby for adoption and had a stack of possible families to choose from, I believe that I would be inclined to choose parents who were not physically or mentally disabled even though I am aware that many seemingly "normal" people can have serious emotional disabilities. We finally found 3 different agencies who were willing to work with us and because of my circumstances, we were informed that being chosen by birth parents with a healthy non-disabled child to place was not very likely. Therefore, we were asked to fill out a form indicating what kinds of disabilities, if any, we would be willing to consider. Our feelings were well considered and I believed that the situation was clearly delineated for us. It even makes sense to me that it would be handled that way. The agencies who refused to work with us were the losers because I believe I have been an excellent and capable Mother to the child we finally adopted.

The agency through which we adopted our child informed us that many special needs children are not necessarily physically or mentally disabled. An unsightly birthmark or being birthed without care would place a child in the "Special Needs" category. We were ultimately chosen by a teenage girl who lived in the South. She was Catholic and pregnant with a child from a black Father and had had no prenatal care for her baby until 2 weeks before the due date. Because she had gone to some effort to prevent the discovery of her pregnancy, it was thought that the child may have some trauma and/or disfigurement and there was a chance that the child suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. All of these factors placed her baby in a "Special Needs" category and she had chosen us. We ultimately chose to accept the risks this situation involved and to accept the child, when it entered the world, as if we had birthed her ourselves. Thirteen years later, our daughter is healthy and normal. She has struggled with attachment problems typical in many adoptive children and has struggled with trust and friendships but is conquering all with the help we have been able to provide and is physically healthy and strong. She did have some disfiguring problems at birth which we were able to deal with effectively.

I just wanted to share my experience as it addresses some of the realities not mentioned in the "Thought Provoker"

Doris Brueggeman A Blind Adoptive Mom in the USA

**21. As a former case worker for the state of California Welfare program, I often had to make difficult decisions on placement of foster children. Older children, disabled children and children of obviously mixed heritage are harder to place because they don't conform to the beautiful little cherub pictures people hold as the ideal baby or child. I sense in this scene that the two blind parents are only being considered as possible adoptive parents because a disabled child is so hard to place that since these folks seem to be acceptable on all other criteria, that the panel has decided not to waste this opportunity to place a child that would be hard to place otherwise. I adopted one of my blind students before returning from my Peace Corps assignment. My own sighted infant was born just before my tour of duty was up and since I planned to stay at home with her, it seemed a natural decision to take on an additional child whose situation was tenuous. It was a simple thing to do as all parties were in agreement and there was no agency involvement. A court hearing sufficed to have the adoption recorded. Not knowing what would become of any of the children I taught, I narrowed my choice down to three who would benefit from being taken to the United States educationally and or medically. I chose a child who had already formed a strong bond with me and my husband, was bright and adaptable. I couldn't afford to bring them all, so chose carefully on the basis of need and availability. I think that Jack and Sharon will probably make a similar decision. All children deserve to have a loving supportive environment. So, even if the agency isn't offering them much choice, they will probably choose to take the child offered. They have a need to give love and nurture and certainly a disabled child isn't likely to have that many chances to find it compared to that beautiful picture perfect child.

DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega

**22. This particular thought provoker seems to have come at a very appropriate time. Melanie and I are right now looking into the adoption process and have decided that we'd like to adopt a child from Ukraine. And honestly, we aren't worried about the adoption agencies, the Ukrainian officials, or anything of that nature--we're worried about the social worker who will do our home study. This seems to be something that could make or break the deal, and we know how difficult some social workers can be as regards disabled people. Both of us are legally blind (Melanie has some vision), and Melanie is also physically disabled with chronic pain issues, so we've got our work cut out for us. Really though, I do have a question. While I agree that we ideally shouldn't be limited in our adoption choices any more than anyone else, why would any of us reject the idea of adopting a special needs child out of hand? Melanie and I, for instance, have decided that we would welcome the chance to adopt a blind child or a child with dwarfism, as these are both things that we can well identify with and feel we may be able to help the child deal with and grow up with, having had some experience with these disabilities in our own lives. Sure, raising a disabled child may be harder than raising a "normal" child. It may not, too. I expect the challenges are very different. But who says raising a child is easy? No parent I've ever met has, that's certain. But very few parents would disagree that raising a child is one of the most wonderful and rewarding things that one can do. And think of this, too. Biological parents may not necessarily have chosen to have kids. Adoptive ones have. That has to count for something. Were Melanie and I Jack and Sharon, we would absolutely welcome the idea. Everyone needs people that will love them. Maybe it's not the picture postcard kid you're getting, but the kid still needs people to love and to be loved by, and after all, what else are we here for anyway? Yes, I agree that we shouldn't be pigeonholed into *only* adopting special needs kids--but neither should we say that we'll take the perfect kid or no kid at all.

Buddy Brannan |

**23. My wife and I are not planning on having children, whether via doption or by natural means. Yet we had discussed adopting if we ever changed our minds.
But that's a completely separate topic from the main thread, as I see it.
In any event, there were a couple thoughts that struck me. I was never adopted, but my wife was, as were most of her sibs. Like herself, all were
of racial minorities, and two others besides herself were disabled. Her parents are wonderful people, and I think they gave a lot of love to their kids.
So having said all this, and admittedly not coming from the perspective myself of one who has ever had to face the unique issues of adoption and its
positive and negative consequences, it seems that leaving aside the obvious discrimination which must go on vis a vis adoption agencies' placement of children,
it would be a shame, I think, if potential parents like Jack and Sharon weren't open to an opportunity which could possibly be the greatest experience
they could have. And whether or not the child is disabled, he/she needs a home, first and foremost.
So I figure on the one hand that it's wrong for adoption agencies to suggest that only one type of child may go to one type of home (a black child with
a black family, etc.). This is discrimination. I might respectfully suggest, though, that if two companion issues are addressed, with the couple wanting
a child and the child wanting/needing a home, perhaps the child's disability, assuming it's one that the couple is willing to work with, could be a secondary
consideration. It's all well and good for the blind couple not to want to be discriminated against, but there are two facts remaining: Do the potential
parents have a child, and does the child have parents? In other words, I wonder that if Jack and Sharon don't adopt this particular child, then doesn't
this fact also mean that society's stereotypes are being reinforced? The child is disabled, so he's harder to adopt. The parents might want a non-disabled,
white infant, and they don't adopt because he's neither, or because maybe he's one but not the other. It's up to an individual, but I wonder how much
good actually comes out of all this?

John D. Coveleski New York, New York ( )

**24. The most heart-wrenching aspect of all of this is that, when a couple, one or both of whom are blind, goes through all kinds of red tape and are finally told that yes, they can adopt a "special needs child," they are caught in a catch22. If they say yes, they are playing the system's stereotyping, but if they say no, there's another person possibly like them, being rejected by whom--*them*. They already know what it is like to be rejected, and they don't want to do what has been done unto them, so then what do they do? It's really sad. Sure, they could sue and fight for the right to adopt a "normal" child, but they would never forget the "special needs" child offered to them from whom they walked away. Really sad predicament.

Lauren Merryfield Washington USA

**25. Sometime about a year ago, I was discussing this issue with a blind acquaintance of mine, who wanted to adopt a child herself. She told me, as a rule blind
people are not allowed to adopt children here (in the Netherlands), because they are believed not to be able to build stable families. From one point, I can understand the agencies need for good adoptive parents, for many children who need to be adopted, have a problematic birth family.
But it really makes me angry that adoption agencies judge someone to be an unqualified parent just because they're blind. To me, each parent - sighted or blind or whatever - differs and it's quite discriminating to say that blind people are not allowed to adopt children. But
yeah, it seems to be usual here and unfortunately there are hardly any rules or laws protecting disability rights - let alone something blind potential
adoptive parents can refer to (but according to earlier responses adoption agencies in the U.S. appear to be allowed to discriminate in this way, too).
Anyways, to me blind people definitely don't have the same chances where it comes to adoption as sighted people.

Astrid van Woerkom Netherlands

**26. It is interesting to know that my husband and I aren't alone in trying to build a family. Since adoption seemed so out of reach for us, we have been trying
to have our children via gestinational carrier (our biological child carried by another). In our search for a carrier, we had the challenge to convince average women that we could parent a child effectively. It was very similar to the open adoption process and trying to convince that birth parent that we were capable. We are still working to get started on our baby. We hope to be parents before John retires and I am living in a nursing home.(smile)

Marcia Beare Martin Michigan

**27. My wife and I are both blind, although each of us have some usable vision. We have adopted 3 children, one, our oldest in 1987 through a private adoption
and the most recent two through child Protective Services. the latter two are 25 months and 17 months of age. These 2 children were placed with us as foster children. We are licensed by the State of Texas for Foster care and Adoption.
We have encountered some reluctance, resistance and even outright discrimination due to a number of factors, including but not limited to blindness. In
one case it was due to our religious affiliation as well as my wife's being diabetic with complications. There has also been age and of course discrimination
because of blindness. We have not been limited to or pressured to care for or adopt children with any type of disability. I think part of this is our history
of successfully caring for adopted children and to some extent our own advocacy.

About two years ago we were licensed by Child Protective Services as a Foster Care and Adoption resource. It took about a year after meeting all requirements
that we received our first placement. This was due mostly to blindness, I assume, although age probably was the secondary factor. A caseworker seemed reluctant
to complete the home study update. Finally, we went down to see a Supervisor, or it may have been the CPS director. We expressed concern about the delay
and offered any information that might expedite the placement consideration. I took a positive approach rather than a pre-litigious one. I decided to talk
with this person about budget issues and shared that I directed a division of a State Agency. She and I got along real well and the following week the
home study was completed. I like to think that our meeting and approach had something to do with this. About 8 years ago, however, I had to write a letter of complaint to a Board of Directors of a private Adoption agency. The Director in a phone conversation
and follow up letter stated and even referenced to some extent in the letter that our religious affiliation, blindness, diabetes and age were factors
that would preclude us from adoption, even though we had successfully adopted a few years earlier. We withdrew our application and demanded our initial
fees. This request was denied, but reversed by the Board. a member who is a lawyer, called me and apologized, stating that the agency did not discriminate
and that its position was misrepresented by the unfortunate comments of the Director. He asked me if there was anything he could do and requested I not
sue the agency. We got our money back and a nice letter of apology and decided not to take legal action because of the response of the Board of Directors
of the agency.
I have heard of situations where blind persons have been discouraged from adopting and even having children. I have even heard of cases where family members
have attempted to get children removed from a home presumably based on parents blindness. I am aware that organizations like NFB have been involved in
advocacy where warranted. I am also aware of situations where persons who are blind have had children removed for reasons other than blindness, including neglect and abuse. Of course
there are many other cases involving persons who are sighted. In most of the latter cases if a child is taken out of the home it will not make the news, unless it is something very dramatic. And usually the neglect or abuse is not attributed to having vision, whereas when involving a blind portents it usually is at least included. Additionally, the typical generalization of blind people not being able to take care of children, adopt children or have children comes up. so we as blind persons again need to be aware that our behavior, good or bad will always have the potential to impact others in our minority group. I am told that one Ethics Professor at a major University promotes the abortion and even infanticide of children based on the singular issue of blindness.
He justifies this by concern over the certainty of unhappiness and lesser quality of like that the child would face if nature took its course. We need to advocate for the same rights including that of adoption as others in society are given, along with the same responsibilities insofar as our children are concerned.

Ed Kunz Austin Texas, USA

**28. Sorry, I've been a bit out of touch, but this particular thought
provoker seems to have come at a very appropriate time.

Melanie and I are right now looking into the adoption process and have
decided that we'd like to adopt a child from Ukraine. And honestly, we
aren't worried about the adoption agencies, the Ukrainian officials,
or anything of that nature--we're worried about the social worker who
will do our home study. This seems to be something that could make or
break the deal, and we know how difficult some social workers can be
as regards disabled people. Both of us are legally blind (Melanie has
some vision), and Melanie is also physically disabled with chronic
pain issues, so we've got our work cut out for us.

Really though, I do have a question. While I agree that we ideally
shouldn't be limited in our adoption choices any more than anyone
else, why would any of us reject the idea of adopting a special needs
child out of hand? Melanie and I, for instance, have decided that we
would welcome the chance to adopt a blind child or a child with
dwarfism, as these are both things that we can well identify with and
feel we may be able to help the child deal with and grow up with,
having had some experience with these disabilities in our own
lives. Sure, raising a disabled child may be harder than raising a
"normal" child. It may not, too. I expect the challenges are very
different. But who says raising a child is easy? No parent I've ever
met has, that's certain. But very few parents would disagree that
raising a child is one of the most wonderful and rewarding things that
one can do. And think of this, too. Biological parents may not
necessarily have chosen to have kids. Adoptive ones have. That has to
count for something.

Were Melanie and I Jack and Sharon, we would absolutely welcome the
idea. Everyone needs people that will love them. Maybe it's not the
picture postcard kid you're getting, but the kid still needs people to
love and to be loved by, and after all, what else are we here for
anyway? Yes, I agree that we shouldn't be pigeonholed into *only*
adopting special needs kids--but neither should we say that we'll take
the perfect kid or no kid at all.

Buddy Brannan