Disabled couple fights for custody of their own son

Anna Bachur of Belarus has had to fight her entire life for things that come naturally for most people. It began at birth. With a glance, her parents decided to put her up for adoption: Anna's arms and legs had not developed normally and where she should have hands there are no wrists or fingers. 

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No one wanted to adopt the little girl, who spent her whole childhood in an orphanage. Even though she knew herself how unlikely it was, she dreamed that her parents would return one day to get her. As an older child she even snuck out of the orphanage once to meet her parents, but the result was even more pain: they wanted nothing to do with her.

Anna then made a choice not to allow her happiness to depend on anyone else. She would create her own life. She worked hard to become independent, setting herself "tests," one after another to prove that she could live alone. She learned to use a computer, she began painting as a hobby, and arranged her life according to her own ideas.

Years went by and she did indeed achieve her goal. She was standing on her own two feet. And then something new happened, something she hadn't expected: she met the man who would become her life partner, Anatoli.

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They had something essential in common, an understanding of what it was like to be "different." Anatoli had overcome his own difficulties, suffering from the long-term effects of polio which he'd had as a child.

They married in 2008 and spent a number of happy years together until another surprise: Anna got pregnant.

Her doctor, however, dampened her delight at the news temporarily, by strongly recommending an abortion because of her and her husband's disabilities.

They struggled with the advice, but since they knew that both of their conditions are non-hereditary, they decided against it. Their chances of having a healthy baby were the same as any other couple's. And they wanted to be parents.

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Throughout the pregnancy their doctors tried again and again to persuade them to abort, but Anatoli and Anna weren't having it. They were much too excited. And as it turned out, they were right to be: in the summer of 2015 Anna gave birth to a healthy little boy, whom they named Kostia. The two new parents were in seventh heaven. 

But now once again their happiness was gutted when they prepared to bring Kostia home. The hospital doctors insisted that they weren't allowed to leave the hospital with him.

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Anna had always been incredibly strong but now her whole world threatened to implode. Social workers and doctors were banding together, claiming that because of the couple's physical disabilities they wouldn't be able to raise a child. They were convinced that Kostia could get hurt or even die in the hands of his biological parents.

The boy should be given to a "normal" family, they asserted. 

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"You're going to let him fall or drown. You can't feed him properly." The list of given reasons went on. Anna for her part had already demonstrated an ability to care for children, having looked after many other kids back at the orphanage. She knew perfectly well that she could care for her son.

The doctors even saw how she managed while still at the hospital, yet wouldn't allow her to bring him home.

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Anna and Anatoli were determined to fight for their son. They were not going to allow the same separation and abandonment to be forcibly imposed on their son that had been willingly imposed on Anna.

They contacted the local media as well as politicians. A news report was published (in Russian) about the family and pretty soon, the whole country was talking about them (Anna changes Kostia's diaper for the reporters at 1:35):

They took every imaginable step to prove that they will be good parents. They underwent psychological and physical testing. Many still believed that they shouldn't have a child but they won over a huge number of supporters.

In the end the pressure on authorities was so great that they relented. Anna and Anatoli were at last permitted to leave the hospital and return home with their newborn son.

A year and a half later, life has calmed down. Kostia is doing wonderfully. He's a clever, happy toddler, making his parents proud every day. A social worker comes by to check on the family occasionally but it's abundantly clear that these two loving parents are more than fulfilling their responsibilities.

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The country is still fascinated by their story as well. They're continually invited on talk shows to discuss their experience (in Russian and Belarusian, but it's very sweet to see them, from 1:45, even if you don't understand):

Anna and Anatoli are living proof that physical disabilities have no impact on a person's ability to be a good parent — and that "normal" isn't the only shape or size that a happy family comes in.

They sure had to fight for the life they have, they certainly deserve to enjoy it!





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