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.