As a young woman, I remember the controversy over the sterilization of the mentally disabled and recall how horrified I was at the thought that someone who thought they knew best could heartlessly take away the right of anyone to choose to be a parent – but that was long before I experienced the challenges I now face as a grandmother raising mentally disabled grandchildren.
In my post, My Story, I explain how my adopted, mentally disabled daughter gave birth to seven children by the time she was twenty-three, and how I was granted custody of four of those children, with the other three being adopted. Now, while I’m still horrified at the thought of any mentally disabled person being sterilized against their will, I’ve certainly softened towards what is known as substitute decision making on behalf of the mentally challenged.
I know this is a very sensitive subject, but believe it’s one that I shouldn’t omit on my website. To do so would be cowardly on my part, especially given my experience and circumstances surrounding mentally disabled children. So please bear with me as I struggle to voice my opinion without deliberately trying to invoke criticism. Although I do welcome any reader’s comments on this or other subjects!
You see, when my teenage unmarried daughter became pregnant with her first child, I truly believed it would be the one and only time; with her learning her lesson so to speak. But, soon after she had left home, I heard from the CAS that my daughter was pregnant with a second child. My heart sank at the news as I realized that her pregnancies were not going to end unless drastic steps were taken to persuade her to use birth control, and knowing her as I did, I suspected she wasn’t going to agree to that anytime soon, and so, by the age of twenty-three, she had given birth to seven children with each one being removed at birth due to her inability to parent. Sadly, all seven children are mentally disabled due, not only to genetics, but to her intake of alcohol and illegal drugs during the pregnancies.
So now, as a grandmother raising mentally challenged grandchildren, one of whom is a teenage granddaughter, I refuse to allow that whole unfortunate situation to repeat itself, and so, as a result, became a substitute decision maker for her regarding the birth control pill. How long she will agree to take it I’m not sure, but while she lives with me, I have made it compulsory that she continue doing so. If, at the age of eighteen, she decides to stop taking the pill that will be the day I decide whether I can continue to be her guardian, as, should the situation arise, I absolutely refuse to be a GREAT-grandmother raising GREAT-grandchildren!