Old parents are irresponsible

I become annoyed when elderly parents aged in their seventies are now demanding their Down Syndrome children be taken care of by society.

Before I proceed, let me state categorically that we have a duty to care for disabled children and young adults.

If a parent gives birth to a disabled child when that birth problem could not have been foreseen, my view is that society has a duty to help with the care of that child. The parents may be too poor or too old and infirm and we must do everything to help.

But Rohan McDonald’s story in today’s “Sunday Age” newspaper, is skewed towards blaming the government when the parents are wholly to blame. In this case, Mr Ken Stone who represents the Victorian Disability Advocacy Network has chosen an inappropriate case for more funding. In my opinion, Rohan’s parents should have anticipated the problem arising from their decision to have a child in their old age.

It is a medical fact that when a couple decide to have a baby in their forties that baby has a high risk of being disabled in some way. Which is exactly what happened to 77 year old Tony McDonald and her husband, Arch (76). So one has to question how selfish the parents are. Their 35- year old son, Rohan, has Down syndrome. I have already written about the high risk of producing a Down Syndrome child at that age.

Poor Rohan endures other medical problems which require up to fourteen hours per day on an oxygen mask. Therefore, looking after him would exhaust a young couple, let alone elderly people of grandparent age.

So what were the McDonalds thinking when they decided to have a child at at such an old age? Did they have a test to see if the child would be fine? If they didn’t, surely someone should have warned them of the risk. Surely, they must have known that they would not live forever and perhaps not be around to even see their child grow up?

If they chose to ignore advice and common sense, why are they now demanding special consideration because of their old age?

When Mrs McDonald is quoted as telling herself she mustn’t die because there is no one to replace her in caring for her son, I can’t help but think that her problem could have been avoided if she had not been blind to the consequences of giving birth at a risky age. It’s a bit late now to be complaining, isn’t it?

My heart goes out to the real victim in all this–poor innocent Rohan whose life is extremely difficult through no fault of his own. Of course, the government will end up looking after him, but the problem could have been avoided with a bit of common sense on the part of Mr and Mrs McDonald.


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