December 29, 2011

Eliminating the Bad Eggs - A Serious Discussion

When you're the parent of a child with special needs, your one constant worry is how your child will be cared for after you're dead and gone.

Will anyone love him like I do? Will they be kind to him? Will they "get" him? Will he have a life of possibility, or be warehoused away from the rest of society?

I'll be 55 in a few months. The Boy will be 17; he has a lot more life left than I do. This worry about the quality of his life in the future occupies my mind all.the.time.

And the worst part about it? Realistically, I have no control over his future - it'll be up to him and whomever is acting as his advocate. With mental health budgets being slashed across the nation, I don't know what kind of services will be available to him when he's an adult. 

Will he be able to live independently? We don't know that yet.
Will he be able to earn enough money to support himself? I dunno.
Will he seek out help and support? Will he take his medication? 

Will he end up in prison? (That's the thought that plagues me most, especially after the recent macing and arrest adventure).

I guess I just need to count our blessings right now, and not fret about what we can't control. 

I know I'm glad that we are living now - where we know more about the treatments and services that help the most (although there is a zillion things we don't know yet).

Here's some information that will keep you awake for nights on end.

See, there is a point to this post.

Eugenics is the study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.

I automatically think of Hitler, and how he killed mentally ill and physically disabled children and adults in his effort to create a master race.

But eugenics was also carried out in the United States, long before Hitler came to power in Europe.

If you were an inmate of a prison or mental asylum, (like the Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-minded Children, for example) and were diagnosed with a mental illness or physical or mental challenge, or have a child or sibling who has one of these challenges, thank your lucky stars that you didn't live in the late nineteenth or early- to mid-twentieth centuries.

In the US, some 60,000 Americans (mostly female) were sterilized during that time. Compulsory sterilization was carried out in thirty-two states. To see how your state fared, click here.

California had the highest number of sterilizations at 20,108; Virginia performed sterilizations until 1979...whoa.

And the U.S. Supreme Court said it was okey dokey.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, in his written argument:

It is better for all the world, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

At the time, it was believed that a "germ plasm" would be passed from one generation to the next, resulting in more feeble-minded offspring. So it was decided that it was a good idea to sterilize young girls, young women, and young men - to prevent them from procreating.

Thanks to prison and mental health reformers like Dorothea Dix, more progressive and humane ways of housing and treating the mentally ill and the incarcerated were enacted.

I am putting my faith in our health care system, governmental agencies and non-profit organizations to continue the strides that have been made in treatment, services and research. 

May they never resort to thinking that the world would be better off without children with special needs. I can only hope that they'll treat my son like he was theirs.

Thank God we don't automatically eliminate the children who don't conform to the norm.

The past seventeen years would have been a lot less                  . Depending on the day, or the mood or the adventure, I could fill in the blank numerous ways. 

I know it would have been a life filled with less love...and who wants that?

The impetus for this post was NPR. You are free to blame them for bumming you out.


  1. Kim, I admire you for all you belive in, have gone through, endure, appreciate. You are the epitome of a good mom, on good days and bad. The love in your heart for the boy is apparent, and your concerns downright real and awlfully scary. It is really hard to not worry, but it is like rocking in a rocking chair. You can get yourself going really fast, but you get nowhere. I wish you peace and calm and a Happy New Year and a great day today.

  2. Stupid NPR. . . *punches them*

  3. NPR does that, which is why we should all listen to it. I'm sure this is a HUGE issue for you. I pray that you are able to see him find a track that works for him and relieves you of the burden of worrying about him all the time.

  4. I'm glad that we live now, even tho it could be 100 times better. I have to say tho, if a man, woman, or couple are accused of child abuse beyond a shadow of doubt, I think they should be sterilized as part of their sentence.

    You are a great mom. You are doing what you need to do to make it a better world for him.


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