Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Monica & David: A Love Story

25 Jan 2011Monica and David are a young couple who met in a life skills class..... Monica already had a boyfriend and David had his eye on her... As soon as Monica became available, David snagged her. They fell very deeply in love almost from the beginning. Sounds like any ordinary love story, the only difference in this love story is, Monica and David were both born with Down Syndrome.

Despite both being bought up without their biological father’s, their mothers worked very hard to become financially secure so their children wouldn’t want for anything.

Monica’s cousin Ali Codina decided to make a documentary film about the couple, as they were soon to be married. The wedding took place in 2005 and Codina said “some treated Monica and David’s wedding as a ‘cute gesture’.” But she saw it as “something very powerful, very serious and very adult.”

Codina’s first documentary follows the days leading up to Monica and David’s wedding and into their first year of marriage. It aired in America in October 2010. Although this was Codina’s first attempt at film making, the documentary titled ‘Monica & David’ has stood up to rave reviews, even winning awards from American film festivals.

One of their awards was, Best Documentary in the Tribeca Film Festival last year. The award was announced and given out by American actress, Jessica Alba. During the introduction of the film, Alba says: “Monica & David takes an incredibly intimate situation and beautifully translates it in a way that makes you think about your own life. It’s a clear and observant look at a family and the purity of love, fuelled by an organic sense of the sadness, joy and everyday humour that fill this epic journey that is life”. They even got a chance to meet veteran Hollywood actor, Robert De Niro, who said their story and the documentary was “impressive”. The Boston Herald wrote “’Monica & David’ is more than a love story; it is a reverential, nuanced movie that shows that people with developmental disabilities want the same things everyone wants out of life.”

The couple moved in together shortly after their wedding. They live with Monica’s mother Maria and stepfather Bob. Who have extended part of their home to allow Monica and David to still live with them, but at the same time, have the privacy that every married couple requires.

During the process of making the film, David has a near death experience and is diagnosed with Diabetes. This means he needs a daily insulin injection for the rest of his life, and must constantly check and maintain his blood pressure to avoid any complications. David’s father-in-law Bob made it his responsibility to keep on top of this, but what comes as a shock to David’s wife Monica, and her parents, is that David is quite capable of performing these duties on his own.

Monica’s mother, Maria says that she is over protective at times, and that parents can be the ones to do the most damage to their disabled children when it comes to setting boundaries, as they are scared that their child will get hurt.

Monica has admitted that she would like to have children one day with David, her mother doesn’t think it would be possible for Monica and David to care for a child on their own. Unfortunately though, even if they were given their parents’ blessings, males with Down Syndrome are mostly infertile, so to actually produce a baby together that would be carried to full term, would be almost impossible.

Maria seems to want to keep Monica and David as close to her as possible to protect them, not wanting them to get jobs with ‘normal’ people in case they suffer bullying or indifference, not wanting them to live on their own away from her and her husband. I know that this is coming from the most loving part of her, and she only means well, but treating your children with a disability in this way is not helping them in the long term. What would Monica and David do when Maria and her husband die? Some parents think putting their children in employment with other disabled people will help them, but in most cases, it stunts their ability to grow and gain more knowledge of the outside world, they don’t get to experience proper life and are sheltered away from the norm of society. If all people with disabilities are put away and hidden, then we aren’t going to get anywhere in creating world-wide disability awareness. The more people with disabilities who are out there, trying to live as ‘normal’ lives as possible, the more other members of society will wake up and realize that just because someone has a disability, doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve the same things as anyone else.

Ok, a bit off track there, but now back to the main subject. While researching for this story, I found many articles and blogs about Monica and David’s life, some people suggested that people with intellectual disabilities should be sterilised so they cannot procreate. When you see the film, you see how much love Monica and David have to give, surely, if they were given assistance, or lived in a care house they would be able to raise a baby together. It certainly wouldn’t be starved of any love or affection. There are so many non-disabled people out there who wrongly and neglectfully bring children into this world, and nobody stops them, so why should two, married, loving, human beings be begrudged to have the chance to create another life and love it with all of their hearts? Some of the comments that I read from other blogs made me feel sick and just showed me the lack of education that exists in the greater public and the urgent need for change.

If you’d like to view a trailer of ‘Monica & David’ please click here: http://media.bside.com/films/monicaanddavid/video/MDfinaltrailer.mp4 or to visit their facebook page, click here: http://www.facebook.com/MonicaandDavid

On their wedding day

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