There are so many reasons we as people want to have children. For one, it’s instinctual. There is something hardwired into our biology to want to take care of the young. When you start a family, you ensure your name and history will live on beyond your time on Earth. Many people are called upon by God to have children and support our families, as well. And in the end, children bring happiness, joy, and beauty into the world as well as your life.
For those living with a disability, pursuing the joy of having a family comes with its share of complications. The majority of these challenges have to do with other people’s misguided opinions and assumptions. Other people always think they know what is best and are quick to tell you.
When you’ve lived your life with a disability, you get used to that. In fact, in some ways living with a disability makes you better prepared for being a parent. Not only are you well-versed in the art of brushing off people’s unwanted comments, you are also used to finding creative solutions to the problems you face.
The cost of a family
If you are planning on getting pregnant or adopting soon, you needed to start saving yesterday. The costs that come with starting a family can be pretty steep. If you are choosing adoption, prepare to pay tens of thousands of dollars. Prenatal and delivery health care costs vary depending on where you live, but you can expect to pay at least $10,000 and as much as $250,000 over the course of nine months. Those numbers are estimated before taking the costs of fertility treatments.
While many women dream of becoming a mother, not every woman has an easy time becoming pregnant. According to Qunomedical, “The success and availability of in vitro fertilization have given hope to many infertile couples who have not been able to conceive. Since 1978, 5.4 million babies have been born worldwide with the help of IVF.” Of course, good things rarely come cheap in this world and IVF is no exception. Just one round of the treatment costs an estimated $12,400.
Other costs: home modifications
In addition to the average costs of starting and raising a family, as a parent living with a disability, you may find you need to make renovations around the house so it can be more manageable. Even if you do not use a wheelchair or crutches, many find it beneficial to install safety ramps over stairs — juggling an infant and arms full of groceries is tripping hazard enough.
Other modifications to take into consideration include automatic doors and lights that work on command. Widening your doorways and even hallways can make getting around the home more comfortable. Finally, be sure to put safety measures in the most dangerous room of the house — the bathroom. Non-slip surfaces, grab bars and linear drains are all simple fixes that can help reduce accidents when bath time rolls around.
Your action plan
The best thing you can do to prepare financially is to establish a spending plan that allows you to save both for your goals as well as an emergency fund you can turn to when things go wrong. Remember: your earnings include both salary and any funds you receive through disability programs. There are various institutions that provide grants for families led by people with disabilities. Don’t be hesitant to roll up your sleeves and apply for every dollar for which you may be eligible.
The drive to have children is more than biological — it’s emotional as well. When you live with a disability, these drives don’t go away. While you may face additional issues based on your situation, living with a disability also teaches a person to be a creative problem solver, which is perfect for a new parent. When faced with reproductive challenges, costs and changes you need to make, you do so with the strength, flexibility, and most of all, love.
About the Author
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities.