by Florence Blume
The Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind and the NFB Parental Concerns Committee wishes to announce the formation of a joint project; the NFB National Network on Adoption and Blindness. There is real need for this network. Blind parents who could give a child love and a home of their own are being denied the right to even make an application to an adoption agency. Blind children, social workers tell us, are among the most difficult children to find homes for. These blind children and blind parents are the victims of the public's misconceptions of blindness. We must change those misconceptions.
The Network is really not new. For years within the Federation there have been opportunities for blind parents who have been interested in adoption to get together and share information, problems, and concerns. The major thrust of the original Parental Concerns Committee was to help blind parents deal with discrimination in adoption.
What is new about this Network is our recognition that the problems of blind adoptive parents and the concerns of adoptive parents of blind children are related and can, and should be, dealt with though cooperative, joint efforts.
The goals of the Network are to:
1. Provide mutual aid, support, and infomation to blind adoptive parents and to adoptive parents of blind children.
2. To educate those involved in the adoption process, especially social workers and prospective adoptive parents, about the facts of blindness.
Those facts being:
a) Blind people are normal.
b) There is nothing complex, especially difficult, or magical about the techniques of blindness.
c) The average sighted person, given the proper understanding of blindness, can sucessfully parent a blind child.
d) The average blind person, given the proper opportunity, can successfully raise children.
e) The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight, but the misunderstanding and lack of information which exists. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness is only a physical nuisance.
We believe, in regards to blind parents, that:
* Blind parents should not be excluded from the adoption process on the basis of blindness.
* Blind parents should not be automatically expected to adopt only a blind child. They should have the same rights and opportunities to express proferences as other other adoptive parents have.
* Blind parents should not be expected to meet different or more rigorous standards than other parents. Neither, however, should the ordinary standards be lowered or waived because of blindness.
With respect to sighted parents considering the adoption of a blind child, we believe:
* They should have access to accurate information about blindness. The NFB and our Network can provide this information.
* They should have access to other parents of blind children, especially adoptive blind children, and to competent blind adult role-models. Again, the National Federation of the Blind, through this Network and our other chapters and Divisions, can help them make these connections.
We are very excited about the potential of this Network. We have already done much through our parent-to-parent contacts nationally, and that will continue to grow. We expect to become better known and therefore more effective as our Network is publicized in adoption magazines, journals, newsletters, etc.
If you would like to be a part of the NFB National Network on Adoption and Blindness or would like more information, just fill out and mail in the following form, or call or write me at the address given at the bottom of the form.
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