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Indiana parents with disabilities share stories in bid to pass #RightToParent bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This year one specific state Senate bill may be what’s needed to create more rights for parents with disabilities. The effort failed last year, but supporters hope feedback from the community will help change the bill to law.

The Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council is in the process of collecting stories from parents with disabilities for its #RightToParent campaign. The stories will focus on instances where the parenting of people with disabilities was questioned based on their abilities. It’s part of an effort to collect data to persuade legislators to act.

Being a parent isn’t an easy job. But Katrina Gossett Kelly took on the title when she and her husband adopted their son.

“Parents with disabilities are doing the same thing you are,” she said.

Kelly and her son have muscular atrophy, so her parenting style may look a little different.

“They are very similar. I have to chase my kid in the museum just like you do. And we make it work.”

But those differences can be enough for others to question their parental efficiency. So Indiana Sen. David Niezgodski introduced Senate Bill 312 on parent rights. In part, it would establish procedures in how to move forward in custody, adoption and guardianship procedures when working with parents who have disabilities.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act already prevents discrimination based on ability and parenting. But unfortunately it’s still occurring,” said Morgan Daly, project director for the INSILC. “So it’s important that we restate that this has to stop happening.”

A similar bill last year failed because lawmakers wanted to see data to support the times when disabled parents were discriminated against.

Representatives said having people with a disability leading this charge may be the push needed to get it into law.

“Some of the most amazing parents I know are people that have disabilities, and they really have so much love to give,” said Kelly.