Taylor and Michael want to get married and have children and that makes me feel very worried, apprehensive and concerned. It’s not going to happen, it can’t happen. - Catherine Musk, Taylor’s mother
I know that their heart’s in the right place but being overprotective is strictly not on with your child, even if they have Down Syndrome. I know that me and Taylor have the skills to be married and start our own family. - Michael Cox
People with disability, like Michael and Taylor, are certainly entitled to bodily integrity and the freedom to do with their bodies as they wish. - Michelle O’Flynn, disability advocate
It’s the reality behind a love story that went viral.
Earlier this year, Australia was swept up in the fairy-tale romance of Michael Cox and Taylor Anderton, two young Queenslanders with Down Syndrome who had found “true love”. An ABC video about the couple was viewed more than 13 million times.
The impressive pair have always exceeded expectations, including conquering the world in competitive swimming. Now they have their sights set on getting married and having children.
“We want to have four kids, we’re going to have three daughters and one son,” says 25-year-old Michael Cox. “It’s not that hard to have a kid. I know that some people say it’s all about hard work, but it’s not, it’s all about love and compassion that you have for your child.”
But it’s a goal their parents don’t support.
“I don’t see parenthood being something that they’re going to achieve or really they probably should achieve,” says Michael’s father, Simon Cox. “It would be very difficult being a child whose parents both had Down Syndrome and couldn’t have a job and couldn’t drive a car and couldn’t understand maths homework.”
Both families say they raised their children to believe in their dreams and to reach for the stars. But now they’re questioning whether they’ve set them up to fail.
“I think of it as a double-edged sword,” says Michael’s mother, Nikki Cox. “For all his life we’ve imposed no limits but then it reaches a point where there are some things that he desperately wants to do and believes that he can do that are probably not going to happen.”
After struggling to find adequate professional support, the families say they are keen to share the real story publicly to help others in similar situations.
“If one other family can benefit from this experience it's going to be fabulous because we have nowhere to turn,” Simon Cox says. “We just hope that through this experience we'll learn, and if we learn, another family can learn as well, and that will be great.”
“When my mum keeps talking about the rules and me and Michael’s relationship, it does treat me like a child a little bit,” says Taylor Anderton. “I didn’t understand love when I was little, but I do now, because I am [an] adult.”