Parenthood is a notion shared throughout the globe, but for persons with disabilities, the laws and regulations surrounding the adoptive and foster care process create unnecessary barriers. Vague health requirements, lack of protections for disabled prospective parents, and the patchwork of state laws threaten that disability impedes persons throughout the United States from becoming adoptive or foster parents. Prospective parents with disabilities may face categorical denials when seeking to adopt or foster children. Many face bias and speculation concerning their parenting abilities during their application process. The effects of these practices are felt not only by those who seek to expand their families, but also the growing number of children awaiting homes. Disability rights law has often focused on employment discrimination, but the Americans with Disabilities Act aimed to create equal opportunity beyond those boundaries, including within adoption and foster care systems. This article analyzes a fifty state survey of adoption and foster care laws and regulations to present several problems within this arena including inconsistencies in non-discrimination provisions, vague health requirements for prospective parents that allow for discrimination and bias, lack of professional knowledge in evaluation of prospective parents' ability to care for a child, and failure to include reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities. Fulfilling the best interests of the child must remain the paramount purpose of public and private agencies, but that should not mean that prospective parents with disabilities are denied the ability to adopt or foster when their home meets the best interests standard.
University of Minnesota Master of Science thesis. April 2015. Major: Bioethics. Advisor: Debra DeBruin, PhD. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 66 pages.
Fleming, Grace Piechler.
Disability discrimination of prospective adoptive and foster parents.
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