When competitive swimmers Taylor Anderton and Michael Cox began dating, their parents cheered them in their relationship in almost every way.
The pair were encouraged to fall in love, get jobs, and be happy—just like any other couple. But when the pair revealed hopes of becoming parents one day, their parents weren’t quite as enthusiastic. Both Anderton and Cox have Down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that causes developmental delays—and as a result, their dreams of raising their own children ignited a unique discussion that gave the world a whole new perspective on disability rights.
Anderton and Cox, now separated, dated for two years before getting engaged for another year beyond that.
The ability of individuals with developmental delays to find love has been a source of controversy over the years, so their parents were applauded for all the encouragement they provided. In the parenthood argument, though, disagreements between the couple and their own parents showed just how far the world still needs to come to accept everyone.
In an article from the Sydney Morning Herald, the pair’s story was broadcast for the world to speculate upon. Anderton’s mother was concerned about the couple’s inability to drive or hold the same types of jobs as fully abled individuals. As disability rights activist Matthew Bowden, co-CEO of People with Disability Australia (PWD), explained, the pair raise an important question about whether we ask the same questions of others before they have children.
“No one parents well in complete isolation,” he explained. It truly does take a village to raise a child—and for people like Anderton and Cox, that village would help them raise children as well!
Recently, Cox became the first person with Down syndrome to receive certification in Australia to coach club swimmers, while Anderton is still competing in swimming herself.
The pair may not still be together, but the discussions they held—and the important discussion that they shed light on—could have a lasting impact on how the world views the rights of people with disabilities to do things like get married and raise children on their own.
“It’s all about love,” they argue. And the thought of a pair of loving parents for any child, no matter what the parent looks like or what they can and can’t do, is something that should be celebrated by all.