Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Family I Want To Have

I tried to send this to Celebrating Autistic Parents, but it bounced. So I'm posting it here for now.

I love children, and have always planned on having children. Recently I realized I don't have to get married and have sex to have children, which is great since I'm not interested in sex. I'd like to either co-parent with someone else who wants sex and no children, or be a single parent. I'd like one child like me. I'm planning to go to a sperm bank and find the most autistic-like donor I can. If I'm lucky, I'll get an undiagnosed aspie, otherwise a BAP donor. Either way, the chance of the resulting child being autistic would be high.
Recently I heard on the radio about a lesbian couple having a child. When they were at the sperm bank, they got to listen to a tape of the sperm donor talking about his chosen topic. If I go to a sperm bank like that, I'll look for someone who picked an unusual topic and has odd tone of voice. I also heard about a sperm bank that only accepts high IQ donors. If that sperm bank gives data on subtest scores as well as overall IQ, I could pick someone who either has high verbal-low performance with low Comprehension and Arithmetic, or someone with high Block Design and low Comprehension.
I'm also planning to adopt a baby with Down Syndrome. There are many adoptive parents who specifically ask for a Down Syndrome child. If I can adopt a child with a rare developmental delay syndrome, that would be great too. I'd love to be a parent of a child with Angelman Syndrome or cri du chat syndrome. I will delight in my children's uniqueness. Even NTs are unique, and I'll love an NT child just as much as a disabled or gifted one. I'll raise all my children to value themselves and value diversity, and to be advocates against discrimination. My main method of teaching them this will be example.
But I worry about how good of a parent I'll be. Will I starve my children because of my tendency to forget meals? Will I be snappy at my children when overwhelmed, and hurt their feelings just like I hurt my brother's? Will my history of sexual abuse make it hard for me to cope with changing a little boy's diaper, the way it upset me to help a disabled boy get his pants on after swimming in the volunteering program I'm involved in?
I also worry about how society will react. Will a doctor call social services, or threaten to, in order to make me put my autistic child on medication or in ABA? Will I be hated for wanting to have a child like me? Will people treat my kids badly for being different, for having a parent who's different? If I have a kid who needs heart surgery or a respirator or something, will I be pressured to let my kid die? Will I be able to cope, and keep my kids safe and well despite discrimination?
When I think about it, I wonder how many NT parents-to-be worry the same way. Does a black person planning to have children worry about how they'll help their kids deal with racism? I suppose many of them think of how their parents helped them. If I think of my parents, they did a lot to help me. They fought with the school system for me. My mom got so angry on my behalf, she kicked a hole in the wall of our house once. My dad, who may be undiagnosed autistic, was once told that he should abuse me so that being sent home from school would be more of a punishment. He was rightfully outraged by that, and replied that they should make school less of a punishment so I'd want to stay there. They eventually homeschooled me starting in grade 7.
But they made some well-meaning mistakes. They took in my cousins, not knowing the danger they posed to me. They kept fighting with the school too long, keeping me in a bad situation because they didn't know their options. There was also minor stuff such as pressuring me to eat beets when the taste literally made me gag, and insisting that I finish all of a food I've tasted, even if I decided I don't like it. Since they found out about autism, they've listened to me more about my sensory sensitivities.
I think I can avoid making the same mistakes. But what mistakes will I make? How will they affect my child? Parenting is tough, but when you add a discriminatory society, ready to tear apart your children's self-esteem (including my NT child if I have one, because being related to someone who's different is discriminated against too), the consequences of well-meaning mistakes get more serious. There isn't the cushion of a supporting society, instead you have to fight society to raise your children well. And that's harder.
I think, I hope, my children will be better off for having an autistic parent. They'll learn firsthand that disabled people are real people and special as they are. The disabled ones will have a model of how to live as a self-respecting disabled person. If I have an NT child, they'll learn that they are not 'perfectly normal', just normal. But it will be a tricky job. Managing my needs and my children's needs in a society not designed for us, while fighting to keep society's attitudes from wounding my family and myself, will not be easy. But if I succeed, the result will be wonderful.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a rather curious perspective. If that's your intention, what will you do if you end up with a neurotypical child?
Best wishes

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Ettina said...

mcewen - reread my post. I answered that question in my post.

2:57 PM  

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