A Kansas City, MO couple had their daughter taken away by the state two days after she was born because both parents were blind. The nurse reported that the mother was having trouble with breastfeeding and was concerned about her ability to care for the child.
"Parents with disabilties continue to be the only distinct community that has to fight to retain - and sometimes gain- custody of their own children," said autism-rights activist Ari Ne'eman.
After a 57 day legal battle the blind parents did get their baby back. Since they've been left alone, but speak about their experience in support of other people facing similar challenges.
A Windsor, Colorado woman, Carrie Ann Lucas, says her experience prompted her to go to law school to fight for herself and others like her.
Lucas is confined to a wheelchair and uses a ventilator due to a form of muscular dystrophy. She is a single mother of 4 adopted children all of them have disabilities. Two also use wheelchairs and three of them have mental disabilities.
She has been investigated by Child Services on multiple occassions which she claims is only because of her disabilities. The first of these dated back to 1999 when first attempted adopted her niece after she had been placed in foster care. The social worker told the judge, "There's no way a handicapped woman could care for that handicapped child." The judge did grant Lucas custody of her niece and 13 years later she is doing well.
Child-welfare expert Judith Schargrin said, "At the end of the day, the child's interest in having permanence and stability has to be the priority over the intrests of their parents."
In Arlington Heights, Illinois, Jenn Thomas, a 36 year old mother of 8 year old twins who has cerebral palsy, says her kids sometimes complain about having to do extra chores to help her out around the house, but for the most part things are pretty normal. The couple has created a support network to help when Jenn's husband is working. Social workers view this team of support as evidence that the disabled parent on their own is incapable.
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