By Adria Nassim
Someone recently asked me if I ever plan to have children. After a lot of thought, I decided to write a blog post on the topic because I know this can be something many young adults with disabilities may consider at some point, just as other young adults do. For many young women, having children can seem like a natural progression after marriage.
Parents must be financially responsible
By my late teens, I knew that while I was very capable of finding meaningful employment, the likelihood of my ever being financially independent without support from family or governmental assistance was slim. While I have always liked children, raising a child is a huge financial commitment, and aside from the support of my family, I don’t know that it would ever be feasible for me to provide a child a quality and stable upbringing given my financial situation.
Also, once the child is born, parents must be capable of providing for all the child’s daily needs including adequate nutrition, clothing suitable to the weather conditions, assistance in the event of illness, injury or medical emergency, transportation or access to adequate transportation, and so on.
A better question might be, “Should I have kids?”
Due to the nature of my disabilities, I need significant help everyday with activities such as dressing, meal preparation, transportation, and other areas. Therefore, I have chosen to develop a career of advocacy for children and adults with disabilities rather than to raise a child. I feel that given my need for support day to day just to go about life myself, bringing a child into the equation would not be in his or her best interest.
Many times, I hear young women say, “I want kids.” I don’t see kids as something to be wanted as much as first ensuring that you and your spouse are ready and in a position to provide quality care and a quality, stable upbringing to that child in addition to providing for his or her social and emotional needs.
I chose to be responsible for Lucy and Thomas
I don’t see this happening with a child for me, but I do see it with a dog. I have two wonderful dogs, Lucy and Thomas. Having to set expectations for them, help them maintain standards of training and behavior (although Lucy is now retired as a former service dog, so she doesn’t train as much anymore) and provide for their everyday needs has been a fabulous experience. I think in my case, choosing not to have kids was the right one, but I’m really happy with the dogs and looking forward to being an aunt in a month!
The nature and severity of a disability should be considered
I think it’s very important to point out that some young adults with disabilities do choose to be in romantic relationships, and many are very happy. Furthermore, people with disabilities may have normal reproductive development and be physically able to have children. Some go on to have children and make excellent parents. First and foremost, being in a relationship and deciding to have children is a choice. Some people will and some will not. There is no right or wrong decision. It all depends on which decision is best for you and your life. The choice depends on the nature and severity of the disability.
I simply choose not to have children.