Infant Is Returned To Blind Couple After State Places Her In Protective Custody

Remember I told you about how
Two Blind Parents
had their child taken off them because the hospital didn’t believe that they could look after the child because they were blind? Well they now have her back.
Here Is theWebsite
I got the article from. I am so glad that she is back with her family but it would have done wonders for sighted people’s perceptions of blindness unfortunately. It is still horrible that such a thing could happen. Anyway here is the article. Congratulations to the parents again. And what a load of balls about them needing “24 hour care by a sighted person”? Jesus christ!!!! Anyway……..

Erika Johnson will never be able to see her baby, Mikaela.

But for 57 days she couldn’t keep her newborn close, smell her baby’s breath, feel her downy hair.

The state took away her 2-day-old infant into protective custody — because Johnson and Mikaela’s father are both blind.

No allegations of abuse, just a fear that the new parents would be unable to care for the child.

On Tuesday, Johnson still couldn’t stop crying, although Mikaela was back in her arms.

“We never got the chance to be parents,” she said. “We had to prove that we could.”

Tuesday, she and Blake Sinnett knew their baby was finally coming home to their Independence apartment, but an adjudication hearing was scheduled for the afternoon on whether the state would stay involved in the rearing of the baby. Then from a morning phone call to their attorney, they learned that the state was dismissing their case.

“Every minute that has passed that this family wasn’t together is a tragedy. A legal tragedy and a moral one, too,” said Amy Coopman, their attorney. “How do you get 57 days back?”

Arleasha Mays, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services, said privacy laws prohibited her from speaking about specific cases. But she added, “The only time we recommend a child be removed is if it’s in imminent danger.”

Johnson said she knew the system eventually would realize its horrible mistake, but she often was consumed with sadness. Sinnett tried his best to keep Johnson hopeful.

For almost two months she and Sinnett could visit their baby only two or three times a week, for just an hour at a time, with a foster parent monitoring.

“I’m a forgiving person,” Johnson said, but she’s resentful that people assumed she was incapable.

“Disability does not equal inability,” she said.

Representatives of the sightless community agreed that people were well-meaning but blinded by ignorance.

Mikaela was born May 21 at Centerpoint Medical Center of Independence. The doctors let Sinnett “see” her birth by feeling the crowning of her head.

For Johnson, hearing Mikaela’s whimpers was a thrill. The little human inside her all these months, the one who hiccupped and burped, who kicked and moved, especially at night, was now a real person whom she loved more than anything else she’d ever imagined.

In her overnight bag was Mikaela’s special homecoming outfit, a green romper from Johnson’s mother, with matching bottoms and a baby bow.

Questions arose within hours of Mikaela’s birth, after Johnson’s clumsy first attempts at breast-feeding — something many new mothers experience.

A lactation nurse noticed that Mikaela’s nostrils were covered by Johnson’s breast. Johnson felt that something was wrong and switched her baby to her other side, but not before Mikaela turned blue.

That’s when the concerned nurse wrote on a chart: “The child is without proper custody, support or care due to both of parents being blind and they do not have specialized training to assist them.”

Her words set into motion the state mechanisms intended to protect children from physical or sexual abuse, unsanitary conditions, neglect or absence of basic needs being met.

Centerpoint said it could not comment because of patient privacy laws, but spokeswoman Gene Hallinan said, “We put the welfare of our patients as our top priority.”

A social worker from the state came by Johnson’s hospital room and asked her questions: How could she take her baby’s temperature? Johnson answered: with our talking thermometer. How will you take her to a doctor if she gets sick? Johnson’s reply: If it were an emergency, they’d call an ambulance. For a regular doctor’s appointment, they’d call a cab or ride a bus.

But it wasn’t enough for the social worker, who told Johnson she would need 24-hour care by a sighted person at their apartment.

Johnson said they couldn’t afford it, didn’t need it.

“I needed help as a new parent, but not as a blind parent,” Johnson said.

She recalled the social worker saying: “ ‘Look, because you guys are blind, I don’t feel like you can adequately take care of her.’ And she left.”

The day of Johnson’s discharge, another social worker delivered the news to the couple that Mikaela was not going home with them. The parents returned the next day to visit Mikaela before she left the hospital, but they were barred from holding her.

“All we could do was touch her arm or leg,” Johnson said.

The couple began making calls. Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, had trouble believing it at first.

“I needed to verify their whole story,” he recalled. “We had to do due diligence. … I found the couple to be intelligent and responsible.

“We knew this was an outrage that had taken place.”

He notified Kansas City chapter president Shelia Wright, who visited the 24-year-olds. Hearing about the empty crib, the baby clothes, Wright recalled, “I felt as helpless as I’ve ever felt in my life.

“I hurt so bad for them. This is unforgivable.”

They rallied other associations for the blind nationwide. More than 100 people at a national convention in Dallas volunteered to travel to Kansas City to protest and testify, both as blind parents and as the sighted children of blind parents. (Mikaela has normal sight.)

They also hired Coopman, who watched the young couple with their baby girl on Tuesday.

“I’m sorry,” she said, wiping tears. “But this should not have happened.”

Johnson kept a journal that Coopman is keeping closed for now. She indicates that legal action will be taken.

“Whether a couple is visually impaired or deaf or in a wheelchair, the state should not keep them from their children,” she said.

Now breast-feeding is a lost option. And the beautiful newborn clothes hanging in the closet went unworn, because their baby was growing bigger in the arms of someone else.

The couple said they had tried to prove themselves to the sighted community since their early years. Sinnett rode his bicycle on the street with the help of a safety gadget. Johnson graduated from high school with honors. But all the challenges they’ve endured over the years shrink compared to the responsibility of caring for 10 pounds of squirming baby girl.

Johnson cuddled Mikaela. Gave her a bottle. Patted her back until she burped. Mikaela gave a tiny smile.

In their 24 years, the couple said, they’ve both endured prejudice from others. They don’t want any other blind parent to suffer the same obstacle they did.

Fifty-seven days are too precious to lose.


The Outrage!

I got this from a community I used to be part of when i had my old blog. I still read it, and just had to post this. This is…………………like jesus christ!!!
This is the site
I got this from. I’m not a parent, but if both parents are capable, and are independent, i don’t see why they couldn’t look after a child. I mean oh my god!!! They obviously wouldn’t have “done the deed” if they couldn’t look after the child!!! I’m sure there are plenty of blind parents about, so why the hell should a blind couple not be able to look after a child? I mean it’s 2010! Jesus christ!! I thought all parents, or most of them had problems with a child breast feeding and all? I’m fucking annoyed now!!!! I mean fair enough if they aren’t capable then yeah i understand what they did, but foster care? What?

Anyway……..here’s the article. What do you all think? I hope it’s not just me who thinks it’s really crap, and is kind of discrimination. What do you think?

On May 21, 2010, a blind couple in Missouri gave birth to their first child, Mikaela.
A few hours after Mikaela was born, the mother experienced some difficulty breastfeeding,
a common problem for first-time mothers. She asked her nurse for advice, but instead
of offering guidance, the nurse called Child Protective Services. That evening, newborn
Mikaela was taken into foster care. Why? Not because the parents used drugs, showed
signs of abuse or were found to be living in substandard conditions. The only reason
CPS cites for their intervention is the mere fact that the parents are blind and,
therefore, are not fit parents. This in spite of hundreds of blind parents, including
single parents and blind couples, who have successfully raised children to adulthood.
Leaders in the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri also interviewed the
parents extensively and determined that they are indeed skilled in the adaptive techniques
needed to parent without sight.
Amazingly, no federal laws exist at this time to protect disabled parents from this
kind of blatant discrimination. So the burden of proof now rests on the parents to
demonstrate that they are capable of taking care of their daughter. With the help
of the NFB of Missouri, they have hired an attorney at $250 per hour to represent
them in court, and are also paying to get official evaluations showing that they
are fit to raise a child. We are optimistic that with a sympathetic judge, baby Mikaela
will be able to come home. But we need money to continue fighting this battle, not
only for Mikaela’s family, but also so that people like me will be able to have kids
one day without fearing that this tragedy could happen to us as well.
If you would like to make a donation to help defray the tremendous legal expenses,
and are going to convention, you can stop by the NFB of Missouri table in the exhibit
hall. If you aren’t going to convention but would still like to contribute, please
send a check to:
Carol Coulter
1613 Blue Ridge
Columbia, MO 65202-1759
Please make checks payable to “National Federation of the Blind of Missouri” and
write “baby Mikaela” in the subject line.