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Don’t Take My Baby: A Review

July 21, 2015

I’m writing this soon after watching Don’t Take My Baby on BBC Three. This is the start of their four week long Defying The Label season of programmes about disability issues.

And what a start it was too! Anna (Ruth Madeley) and Tom (Adam Long) are a young couple. Their relationship is strikingly normal. Adam has any young man’s charm and a mischievous sense of humour. On their first date, he throws Anna into a swimming pool to skinny dip, hardly seeming to care that there are other people around!

However, this classic tale of modern young love has one striking difference to most others- Anna and Tom are both disabled. Anna is a wheelchair user with an uncertain life expectancy. Tom is partially sighted, with his limited vision fading fast.

Yet once they both understand that they can both understand and fully participate in a physical relationship, it becomes clear that theirs is a love that will last.

Anna has just given birth to their baby girl, Danielle, and is recording the story of her parents’ lives for her to watch in the future.

The characters of the couple’s parents all fit one classic ‘disability stereotype’ or another. Anna’s father left soon after her disability was diagnosed. Her very loving mother is full of fear about the pregnancy, almost overprotective. Tom inherited his eye condition from his father, the only parent who really seems to understand the couple’s situation, having been through it himself. Tom’s mother worries about the baby inheriting Anna’s more serious condition and about her son, in his future, having to care for the child without eyesight.

Then there is the social worker, Belinda. Assigned to assess their ability to look after the baby, she has her doubts at first, as any disabled person will tell you most professionals do. Her entrance into their lives brings real fear for the couple- the fear of losing the child they so clearly love. Belinda warns the couple that she will come to their home unannounced, and then makes a habit of doing so at just the wrong moment, leaving viewers gasping and unsure whether to laugh or cry!

In this case, however, it is Belinda who eventually comes around and makes the case for the couple to keep their baby. So, for this couple, it really is, as Anna says, “how much you love your child that counts.”

Viewers are left hoping that the other 11,000 decisions that social workers have to make each year about children staying with their disabled parents will all have such happy endings.

Ruth Madeley, like Anna, is a wheelchair user. Jack Thorne, the drama’s writer, is disabled.

There is very little, if anything, wrong with the drama as a whole- except perhaps that baby Danielle does test positive for one of her parents’ conditions.

Personally, I grew up at a time when parents of disabled children were told their children would not be able to find love for themselves. Babies weren’t thought of. However, now, as a disabled adult, I realise how wrong that was. I am pleased that this drama raised these very important issues so well. I wish every parent who was ever told their disabled child wouldn’t find love and couldn’t have children could watch it.

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