The birth of a child can raise many questions for a new mother. Whether she is raising the baby with a partner or on her own, the great responsibility that comes with caring for a new life is one that few women take lightly. Though many worry about whether they are ready for the challenges of parenthood, most are excited about the opportunity to raise their own kids.
A Massachusetts woman was denied that opportunity shortly after she gave birth. Around two years ago, the young woman, who suffers from intellectual disabilities, had a child at a hospital. Upon the child’s birth, the commonwealth’s Department of Children and Families took custody of the girl, claiming that the mother was unable to adequately care for the baby. Since DCF’s interference in this situation, the woman and her family have fought to get the child back.
Just recently the federal government stepped in to help the family. The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, through a joint investigation, demanded that DCF return the child to her mother. Noting that parents with physical disabilities and limitations are not denied the right to raise their children, the departments found DCF’s actions discriminatory against the mother.
For its part, DCF has claimed that it took action because it believed it was in the best interests of the child to remove her from its mother’s care. However, the investigation also found that while the child was in DCF’s custody, she suffered injuries such as bruises and a black eye. The child will be returned to her mother and her family, and many who advocate for the rights of disabled parents see this as a family law victory for those who experience limitations in their lives. As shown by this unique situation, child custody matters can grow out of many circumstances and can challenge the rights of parents, government agencies and children.
Source: myfoxboston.com, “Feds order baby returned after DCF takes custody due to mother’s disability,” April 28, 2015