The lottery of birth
The lottery of birth

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The lottery of birth

2.2.2 Parents with disabilities

Laurence and Adele Clark are parents of two boys, Tom and Jamie. Both Laurence and Adele have cerebral palsy. They have made a documentary about their experiences as disabled parents.

In this video you can see them (and Laurence’s mother) in the early days at home with their second son, Jamie.

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Transcript

ADELE
Your brother's home. He's never seen our house before, has he?
TOM
I'm happy the baby's come home.
NARRATOR
And Tom's little brother now has a name, Jamie.
TOM
He's cute. It might be dreaming of drinking milk.
LAURENCE'S MOTHER
I like to stand back and just see where help's needed and stay in the background and let them get on with it, because they're both so capable and so confident when they're in their own home that I just want to be there, mostly making sure Tom's OK.
NARRATOR
Laurence and Adele need to find an accessible way to bath Jamie.
LAURENCE
How's that?
ADELE
That should be fine.
NARRATOR
They've decided the rise and fall work top in the kitchen is a good place to start.
LAURENCE'S MOTHER
Run out of work space, I do, as big as the kitchen is.
NARRATOR
This will be Jamie's first bath at home.
ADELE
I'm nervous. Been a long time since I've done it.
[BABY CRYING]
TOM
Please take it to Mummy, he's giving me a headache. Do you want me to help?
LAURENCE
Yeah.
TOM
I don't think he likes baths.
LAURENCE
Neither do you.
[LAUGHTER]
ADELE
OK.
[BABY CRYING]
ADELE
Sorry, sweetie. Can you hold that, lad?
LAURENCE
Give him back.
ADELE
It's just not working for me because I'm frightened to drop him. I'm really conscious we're on a tile floor, you know, only just mobilised and -
[BABY CRYING]
LAURENCE
There we go. Hold his head up.
ADELE
I'm just really worried, Larry. I don't like handling him when he's slippery. Have you got him? No, Larry - have you got him? I'm slipping. Have you got him?
LAURENCE
Yeah.
ADELE
Oh my lovely.
LAURENCE
I've got him. Got him.
LAURENCE'S MOTHER
Hooray, first bath. This kitchen's sort of new, so they're exploring new ways of doing it. And only they can do it. But it's awful for me, because I stand in the wings and I want to go and help, but I can't.
LAURENCE
You find the best ways to do things and you may not always look to other people. It ain't the best way, but I know my own body, I know my own balance, my own strength. Obviously I'm not going to take risks with my new-born son. And that I think is hard for some people to get their heads around. There we go. Shaken but not stirred.
ADELE
Some people will be of the opinion that we shouldn't have kids, but you know, what can you do to change that? We've chosen to have a family and we manage just fine. A lot of children don't get the things they need from the parental home like love and attention, and our boys will always get that. So you know, is our impairment an issue?
LAURENCE
I don't think we're particularly special or unique or anything, but I do think because of the perception that less disabled people have kids. It's fine to have kids and relationships.
ADELE
I wouldn't ever want my experience to be viewed as triumph over adversity, because I'm not doing anything extra special, I'm just living my life. I've got a loving partner and two kids, and that's it. When they come to leave home, they might buy houses that are completely inaccessible so we can't get in and see what they're up to, you know what I mean? Hopefully they won't make a big issue of it, we'll just be mum and dad.
[LAUGHTER]
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Laurence and Adele are open about the additional challenges of being disabled parents but argue they ‘aren’t special’, they just want to be able to experience one of life’s great elements, being a parent, like everyone else.

Their decision to have children was not taken lightly but may, to some people, seem difficult to understand.

Activity 2.2

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In the next section, you will think further about the choices surrounding parenthood.

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