I am 19 years old, turning 20 this year, and am currently at university doing a foundation year in Computer Science. As such I’m living in the weird part of life where you have to act like an adult without knowing what that means, care for yourself for the first time and be prepared to answer all of the ‘adult’ questions in life. the main one currently: “Do you want children?” I’m hardly the first person to be asked this out of the blue, and certainly won’t be the last either, but I’ve noticed things are a bit different when my able bodied and/or neurotypical friends are asked this. For them the follow up questions are, “How many?” or “Why not?”. For me, it’s often a pause of silence followed by something to the effect of, “Is that a good idea?”
Let me emphasise and elaborate that yes, I do want kids (when I’m older, obviously, I’ve got student debt to worry about now). I don’t want them to be biologically related to me since a few different health problems seem to run in my family and I’d like to give my children the best chance as a healthy life that I can. As such I’ll likely go down the route of sperm donation and/or surrogacy depending on the gender of my further partner, as I do want to have a baby. Since this is a personal decision that involves by health and reproductive organs, I don’t really bring it up in conversations regarding said future children unless prompted and in a comfortable friendship group (or on the internet, apparently). I have, on a couple occasions, been questioned on whether I can even have children biologically anyway - as if my walking stick made me instantly infertile. Whilst I’m a firm believer that everyone’s opinion matters, when it comes to my organs it’s generally considered polite to just keep the heck out of it.
I also want to adopt a couple children, with my main priority being disabled children as they are much more likely to stay in the care system than others. When I tell the questioner this, there often isn’t time for the pause seen with the biological question. Rather people seem entitled to immediately tell me how a child might suffer from having a parent ‘like me’.
‘Like me’ doesn’t mean what it meant when I was younger; kind, smart, generous, funny. Now it means autistic (“You can’t even hug your child!”), mentally ill (“What if you get depressed again while being a parent”) and physically disabled (“Who’s going to play football with them?”). Because I cannot do everything, I am not parent material in some eyes as if there is some test I must pass to reproduce (perhaps if there was, I wouldn’t have to have these conversations). I am seen for what I cannot give rather than what I will give. My future children will be tolerant and will emphasise with others because they understand another’s situation may be different what what it seems.
It will be different, but it won’t be bad. I know they will thrive not in spite of who their dad is, but because of it. #Disability #Arthritis #Physicaldisability