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Disabled Couple Keeps Baby

May 5, 2012 permalink

After a week of unfavorable publicity Peel CAS has backed down and announced that disabled parents Charlie Wilton and Maricyl Palisoc will be allowed to keep their son William.



Disabled couple thrilled they’ll be able to keep their baby

Charlie Wilton and Maricyl Palisoc with son William
Charlie Wilton and Maricyl Palisoc, both of whom have cerebral palsy, with their son William. CURTIS RUSH/TORONTO STAR

The proud parents of a 3-week-old baby boy learned Friday that they won’t lose their child to the Peel Children’s Aid Society after all.

“Yay!” Maricyl Palisoc, 34, yelled as she carried 9-pound William into her assisted living apartment unit in Mississauga with her fiancé, Charlie Wilton, 28. Both parents have cerebral palsy.

They had feared they would lose the baby, but a family conference meeting was held Friday with Peel CAS and the parents showed that they can address the safety and well-being of their child.

They have a personal care worker with them 24 hours a day and grandparents willing to help.

It’s been an emotional three weeks after their son was born by C-section at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Cerebral palsy is a muscular disability marked by slurred speech and physical impairment. Their cognitive abilities are not impaired. The couple said they can do everything able-bodied parents can do. Wilton changes diapers and Palisoc breastfeeds.

Palisoc, who works part-time as a cleaner, does not need a walker.

Wilton relies on a walker to get around and says he won’t pick up the child, but he can hold him just fine. He said he wants to be a stay-at-home dad.

The baby has a clean bill of health.

The pair met 14 years ago and the two have been seeing each other for the past six years. They have been engaged for a year.

They have been trying for the past three years to have a child.

They conceived the child in the conventional way.

“Even disabled people can have sex,” Wilton said with a laugh.

Wilton shrugged off concerns that because he and Palisoc have slurred speech that the child won’t be able to communicate with them as he grows up.

“It’s just like learning a second language, like Spanish. I just have to be patient,” Wilton said.

Wilton is not without worry, however.

He was adopted and spent many years going from group home to group home. He is worried that someday he will lose his child to foster care.

“I just want to be a good father,” he said.

Linda Soulliere, executive director of the Coalition for Persons with Disabilities, said her organization worked out a support plan with AbleLiving, a group that provides assistance to adults with disabilities, and submitted it to the CAS for approval.

The plan involves support workers providing enhanced or essential care for the parents and child. They are on-call 24 hours a day, and plan to schedule regular visits with the family.

Soulliere said she is confident Palisoc and Wilton are competent caregivers.

“Maricyl and Charlie are very strong and independent people, and I’m sure that they will be able to learn effective ways of managing the baby’s care,” she said. “They’re capable of taking care of their child in the supported environment that they currently live in.”

She added that while the parents may need assistance with some tasks, they will eventually adapt and learn.

There is a misperception that people with disabilities that affect their speech have “lower cognitive ability,” Soulliere said, but that’s not the case.

“There needs to be more education … especially essential services like CAS need to make sure that their workers are experienced and have exposure to persons with disabilities, so they can more adequately see the ability that also accompanies the disability.”

Source: Toronto Star

Follow-up two months later.



Disabled couple embraces joy of parenting

William wiggles his little arms and legs, smiling up at the moving musical mobile above his crib.

His parents, Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton, savour these joys of parenthood, joys very nearly taken away from them.

In May, they almost lost their newborn to the Peel Children’s Aid Society because they both have a disability.

Wilton, 28, and Palisoc, 34, both have cerebral palsy, a physical disability affecting their movement and motor skills. Their disability is also marked by slurred speech but has no impact on their mental capacities.

“They told us we might not even bring the baby home,” Palisoc recalls of the harrowing three months of indecision prior to William’s birth on April 13 at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The Peel CAS was concerned they couldn’t properly care for their child. The agency finally dropped the case three weeks after he was born when the couple showed otherwise.

With the help of occupational therapists, they have found ways to do the usual things new parents do, such as changing diapers and breastfeeding. And, like any parents, they coo at their baby’s every smile. Pictures of William adorn their walls.

Both parents can walk, but Wilton has an electric wheelchair to help him get around. He doesn’t stand up while holding the baby. When he wants to bring William to his mother’s arms, he sits in a wheeled desk chair at the edge of the crib, picks up his son and wheels himself over to Palisoc.

Though she can’t jump up each time William whimpers in his crib, Palisoc recognizes each cry. When he wails his hunger cry, she straps a blue breastfeeding support pillow around her waist and gets William from his crib.

Now almost three months old, he excitedly latches onto her breast.

Either parent can change William’s diapers. If Wilton needs help, Palisoc stands behind him, arms outstretched, ready to lend a hand. Parenting, they say, is about teamwork.

Sometimes they need additional support — to bathe William, for instance. Their apartment, in an assisted-living building in Mississauga, provides 24-hour access to staff who come by every two hours to check on them and the baby.

Parenting comes naturally for them, they say. Palisoc fusses over the thermostat, adjusting it frequently, making sure her baby’s not too hot, not too cold. Wilton is already advertising that his son’s “a daddy’s boy” who stops crying the moment he is in his arms. They debate whose eyes he has, whose nose and mouth.

When Palisoc and Wilton met 14 years ago at Erinoak, an out-patient rehabilitation centre for youth with disabilities, they were both dating other people, so they just became friends. Five years ago, they met up again and fell in love.

Wilton proposed to Palisoc twice.

“ ‘Do you think other people are as happy as we are?’ ” Palisoc remembers him asking her last year at the Victoria Day fireworks.

He asked her to marry him. She said yes.

The next day he asked her again at their favourite restaurant over a fancy dinner, having coordinated with the staff a romantic delivery of her diamond ring, nestled between flowers on a platter.

She said yes, again.

“We want what everybody wants, a family,” says Palisoc, who already calls Wilton her husband. Their wedding is planned for June 2013.

Palisoc says they really became a family at 7:22 p.m. on April 13 when their healthy 7-lb. son was born by Caesarean section. William was conceived the traditional way.

“We are so much happier,” says Wilton. “William brought us, our relationship, closer together.”

When they step outside their home, it’s clear not everybody understands their choices.

“Everybody stares at us like we’re doing something wrong,” says Palisoc. They expected it, and don’t really mind, although she says they might when William gets older.

The couple shrugs off concerns about how they will care for William when he starts to crawl, when he gets bigger.

Wilton, a retired Paralympian for Canada, says he is used to taking on challenges — he holds three world track records.

“I don’t believe in the word impossible . . . That’s not in my vocabulary,” he says firmly.

“We are typical, normal parents. We worry about the same things. Whatever happens, happens. We will deal with it then,” he says.

The couple says if anything, having cerebral palsy will make them better parents. Palisoc remembers all too well her loving but overprotective parents. Wilton lived with six different foster families, so says he knows the importance of a good home. It’s why he will mostly be a stay-at-home dad. William will have regular contact with people with regular speech, such as his grandparents, but they are proud he will be able to understand other ways of speaking, like theirs.

They say there is much to look forward to. For one, they’re thinking of having another child, to give William a sibling.

Wilton is considering writing a book about their experience, and Palisoc, who is now on maternity leave from her job as an AMC theatre usher, would like to go back to school to study early childhood education.

“But I don’t know if I can leave William,” she says, smiling at her baby. “I’m a mom.”

Source: Toronto Star