Parents with disabilities face bias in care-giving abilities

In a new report titled “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children” by the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency, parents with disabilities continue to face bias and difficulties in retaining and often gaining custody of their very own children. The report states that this outcome is completely contrary to the intent of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the strides that such an Act has made in the years since implementation.

In one instance, a Missouri couple where both parents were blind had their daughter taken from them and into custody two days after her birth. The reason the daughter was taken – the mother had difficulties with the initial breastfeeding, something that is common with all first-time mothers. This bias also appears to be a nationwide situation that needs addressing when it comes to parental rights, not just any one geographical location within the United States.

According to the report, these parents, whether they suffer from a physical or a mental disability, are much more likely to be discriminated against when attempting to gain access to assisted reproductive technology or adoption agencies as an alternative means of having children. They are also more likely to lose their children following a divorce. Another troubling trend is that these parents with disabilities are also often times investigated more often than other parents by child welfare officials.

While concern for the welfare of the children is admirable, to base that concern solely on the disability is detrimental to these parents and their rights. They already struggle with one or more disabilities, child welfare should not be adding more obstacles to their success in life and enjoyment of their children. Sometimes all they need is additional resources and support. That is a better solution than removing a child from their biological parents care due to a bias in ability.

Source:, “Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids: report,” David Crary, Dec. 4, 2012

  • If you are having difficulties with gaining custody of your child, please visit our family law matters website for more information on what your options may be.

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