Today I took my toddler to the ophthalmologist which is an annual dreaded appointment. I am diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa which is said to be a genetic eye condition. For those of you with genetic eye conditions and children, I am sure I do not have to tell you how difficult it is to wonder if you have passed your vision impairment on to your child. Luckily, so far, my son seems to not have any signs of having retinitis pigmentosa, however, we will never really know as this is a progressive condition, so signs could possibly show up later
While sitting in the waiting room with my husband and son, I got to thinking about the debate amongst not only individuals with vision impairments, but also individuals with disabilities alike surrounding having children. From what I have observed, there are two schools of thought. The school of thought that questions why someone would bring a child into the world knowing that they may have a life altering condition and the school of thought that doesn’t think twice about bringing new life into the world despite the risk of a life altering condition.
For the record, I am of the second school of thought. You see, the way I see it is why on earth would I deprive someone of life out of fear of something that is really out of my control? The truth is that any woman at any given time could give birth to a child with a number of conditions, but does this mean that this child does not deserve to live their life to the fullest? Does this life altering condition deprive this child of a quality of life? Does it change how much this child’s parents and family love and cherish his or her life? I would say absolutely not.
I am sure you all have heard that people would rather be dead than blind. Really? It is amazing to me that people would really rather not experience life at all than experience life without one of their senses. I am sure that these are the same people who would choose to not bring a life into this world for fear of a chance that their child will not be perfect or God forbid be blind or visually impaired.
My son brings joy to my life every single day. I truly could not imagine life without hearing him say “Hi mommy” or “I love you mommy”. If my son does have a life altering condition such as a vision impairment, I am not going to lie, this would alter how we educate and prepare our son for entering into adulthood, but this only changes some things, it doesn’t lower his quality of life or even his potential to do something great one day.
People with disabilities have children every day. Some of their children may have a disability one day….so what? Who cares? We are all so different and at the risk of sounding super cheesy, that’s what makes the world such a great place. We all bring to the table different voices, abilities, capabilities and experiences. If you are reading this and struggling with the decision to bring life into this world there are of course tons of considerations that must be made. Only you and your partner can truly make that decision, but I urge you to not let the fear of a child with a disability stand in your way. Yes, life will be different and yes there will be struggles along the way, but I am pretty sure that every parent of a child with or without a disability will encounter some tough days just like you.