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Custody issues, discrimination regular for disabled parents

On this blog, we have covered many topics related to living with a disability and obtaining Social Security disability benefits. We've looked at issues through the eyes of disabled voters, the elderly who live with disability and college students. But what about parents?

A thorough and compelling article published today by the Associated Press explores the challenges that many disabled parents face -- namely the right to maintain custody of their children.

While our country has come a long way as an entity that protects the rights of its disabled citizens, a recent report conducted by the National Council on Disability found that disabled parents still face immense and troubling discrimination. These parents, the report showed, often have to fight serious legal battles just to prove they are fit to raise their own children.

Unfortunately, our country seems to be severely biased against disabled parents' ability to parent, and states often take their children away, calling the parents unfit. However, advocates for disabled parents say what these individuals -- who parent 6.1 million children in this country -- need are resources to assist them as parents. And there are many parents who serve as examples that this can work.

One couple -- both of whom are blind -- regained custody of their child after proving they could care for her. Another woman who suffers from muscular dystrophy has raised four adopted children who all have disabilities despite being confined to a wheelchair. Hopefully these individuals and others like them will show state officials that a disability doesn't automatically equate to an inability to parent.

One Syracuse lawyer may have said it best when she said that such an assumption "is bad for society and heartbreaking for families."

Source: ABC News, "Disabled Parents Face Bias, Loss of Kids: Report," David Crary, Nov. 26, 2012

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