Austrian blind couple told they can’t adopt

A blind Austrian couple who have been fighting for years for the right to adopt a blind child have been told by Austria’s high court that it has no jurisdiction in their case.

Austrian blind couple told they can't adopt
Janoschek and Dallinger. Photo: freiraum-europa

The couple, from Upper Austria, believe they have been discriminated against and have backed their claim with a certificate which stipulated they are both fully competent and able to raise a child.

But youth services in Upper Austria refused to allow the couple to adopt, as did youth services in Vienna.

Dietmar Janoschek (43) and Elfriede Dallinger (48) decided they wanted to adopt a blind Bulgarian child in 2010.

Janoschek works for a non-profit organisation called freiraum-europa, which is dedicated to helping permanently disabled people live independently. He said that Bulgarian orphans are living in “heartbreaking conditions”.

The couple fear that time is now running out for them as the maximum age difference between an adoptive child and parent is not allowed to be more than 45 years – and the couple want to adopt a  child under the age of three as they believe it is easier for the child.

Janoschek and Dallinger said youth services had said that they would not be suitable parents as they might have difficulty with things like identifying a tick bite or giving first aid in the event of an accident. However, they argue that blind people have highly developed senses and that they would be particularly well-suited to care for a blind child.

Reinhold Rampler from Upper Austria’s Department of Youth Welfare said that the couple’s disability was not the decisive factor and that there were other reasons they would not be suitable parents, but for privacy reasons these could not be made public.

The Disability Ombudsman Erwin Buchinger has spoken in support of the couple’s wish to adopt.

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