Disability and parenting: how possible is it?

Disability and parenting: how possible is it?

Marie has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and in 2013 she became a parent through surrogacy. We talk to Marie about how her disability affects her life, the process she went through to become a mum, and what it’s like being a disabled mother.

Please tell Disability Horizons readers a bit about yourself.

I am Marie, I am 31 years old and I have a disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (genetic Brittle Bone). But despite this I have lived a very full life.

When I left school I went to the job centre, where I was told that there was nothing for me. So I went out and got a job myself, and have worked in various capacities since. I have also learnt to drive a highly adapted vehicle, which has given me great independence.

I met my sweetheart, Dan, in 2001. We’ve since bought our own place together, paying half for the mortgage deposit each, I’ve graduated from the Open University, and when we got married in 2013, we made the biggest announcement you could possibly imagine – that we were to be parents through the miracle of surrogacy.

Marie and her baby

What daily challenges do you face being a disabled mother?

I need Dan, my PA or whoever is with me to lift my son. But once he is within my reach, I am able to wash him, dress him, change his nappy, feed him and play with him. In a few months he will be walking and the need for lifting will go away.

What do you enjoy most about being a mother?

I have always dreamt of being a mum so naturally I love that my dream came true! I just enjoy everything – playing with my son and making him smile and giggle. I simply adore every second of it.

Marie and her baby

What advice would you give to other disabled people who wish to be become parents?

I would say look at all the options open to you. I was advised not to carry a baby to term, not just because of my brittle bones, but mostly because of respiratory and heart concerns. Look into surrogacy and look into adoption, each case is different and you may be successful.

Can you talk us through the process you had to go through to get a surrogate?

Originally a very close friend of ours was going to be our surrogate, but she developed a back problem, which meant she could no longer help us. We then decided to join a surrogacy organisation, we waited about a year, but then actually found our surrogate through a mutual friend. All in all we waited many years for our dream to come true. We originally spoke of having children in 2009 and our dream came true in 2013.

Marie and her baby

Do you have any practical parenting tips to help other disabled parents?

Every disability is different, so what may work for me may not work for everyone else. Trust your own instincts and don’t try and push yourself too far. If you know you can’t do something then ask for help. Help is out there for disabled people to be parents, schemes such as Direct Payments, which you can be assessed for by your local council. You will be amazed how many people appear when you have a baby!

Marie and her baby

By Marie

If you’re a disabled parent, or are disabled and thinking about having children, here are some useful disabled parenting advice websites:

Disabled Parents Network

Disability, pregnancy and parenting

NHS: Help for disabiled parents

Support for parents with disabilities

Check out…

Working for the BBC: from homelessness to success
Challenging impaired perceptions of disability
The great mobility scooter debate

Are you a disabiled parent? We’d love to hear about your life as a disabled parent, and to share tips with our community. Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.

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  • Melissa Chapin

    I’m a single parent and wheelchair user with boy/girl twins, aged 10. I wouldn’t trade the practical hardships for anything in the world. The three of us have an unshakeable bond and I’m astounded by my kids’ empathy and ingenuity from an early age. You’re doing a great job and it certainly sounds like the only disability here is your ex’s attitude and lack of respect. Keep aiming for the stars!