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Volume 5, Pages 50-57
Review Article

Intellectual Disability and Parenthood

1Faculty of Social Science, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Academic College of Judea and Samaria, Ariel, DN Ephraim 44837, Israel
2Division of Community Health, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel
3Zusman Child Development Center, Division of Pediatrics, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel
4National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of the Medical Director, Division for Mental Retardation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem and Division of Pediatrics, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Received 1 September 2004; Revised 2 January 2005; Accepted 3 January 2005

Academic Editor: A. Omar Hatim

Copyright © 2005 Isack Kandel et al.


Parenthood in persons with intellectual disability (ID) is an issue of concern for the family, guardians, and professionals as there are many sentiments and problems involved: financial, technical, medical, legal, and above all moral. People with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities have feelings, want relationships, and are able to have children also. The attitude of society has changed through time from the early eugenic concern with heredity and fertility, to a focus on the risk to the children due to parental neglect or abuse, to acceptance and a search for solutions to parental training and support. This change can be seen as a result of a shift from institutional care to community care and normalization. This paper reviews available research, prevalence, service issues, experience from around the world, and relates to the situation in Israel. Jewish Law has been very progressive regarding the possibility of marriage between persons with ID (in contrast to American Law where historically this right has been denied, until recently). Recent research has shown that, in the case of such a union resulting in children, although they require some supervision, family, friends, and social welfare agencies have scrutinized these families so much they are in constant fear of their child being taken away. There is little information on the number of such cases and an overall dearth of information on the effects on the children, although one recent study from the U.K. has shown a varied picture of resilience and a close, warm relationship later on with the family and especially the mother.