Feds: State wrongly took newborn baby away just 2 days after birth because mother had a disability

Over the last few years, Boston and Massachusetts in general, has become notorious for infringing on the rights of parents. In this case, a young woman with a “mild intellectual disability,” where she needs repetition to be taught properly, had her newborn in 2012 taken away and put in foster care. There was nothing severely wrong with the girl. Her parents wanted custody of the newborn and to train their daughter to care for the child. The State stepped in anyway and took the baby. Ever since then, the mother and her parents have been fighting to get the little one back and now the DOJ and DHHS have backed her move. But Massachusetts is determined to be right on this and is doubling down on the matter. That baby is now two and belongs with her family. This is a gross violation of the mother’s and the baby’s rights.

From CBS46.com:

She was 19, a brand-new mother with a developmental disability. Two days after giving birth to her daughter, the state took the infant away and placed her in foster care.

Massachusetts child welfare officials contend the young woman couldn’t properly care for a newborn and insist they acted in the child’s best interests. But the federal government disagrees: It says the state violated her civil rights by discriminating against her because of her disability.

In a new report, the Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say the state Department of Children and Families – which has moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights – needs to compensate her and give her a chance to prove she can care for her daughter, or it could face a federal lawsuit.

The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency advising the White House and Congress, says the case points up a growing problem: states needlessly taking custody of the children of disabled parents.


Now 21, and identified in the federal report only by the pseudonym “Sara Gordon,” the young woman’s ordeal began as she was still recovering from childbirth in November 2012.

Federal authorities describe her as having a “mild intellectual disability” that makes it difficult for her to read and follow verbal instructions. They say she requires “repetition, hands-on instruction and frequency” to learn new things such as how to feed a baby and change diapers.

“DCF staff assumed that Ms. Gordon was unable to learn how to safely care for her daughter because of her disability, and, therefore, denied her the opportunity to receive meaningful assistance,” said the two federal agencies, which conducted a joint civil rights investigation.

Their 26-page report, dated Jan. 29, says Massachusetts should provide the mother with services and support so she can have a shot at regaining custody of her daughter; pay damages to the family; and withdraw a petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights that’s currently in state court.

They also called for broader changes, saying the case highlights “systemic failures by DCF to ensure social workers follow appropriate policies and procedures and have necessary training to perform their duties without discriminating on the basis of disability.”


Cayenne Isaksen, a DCF spokeswoman, said the agency will be responding to the federal government’s report.

“DCF believes it acted in the best interest of the child,” she said, without elaborating.

Through their lawyers, the young mother and her family declined requests by The Associated Press to be interviewed. Their lawyers said community service providers support the family’s plan to care for the little girl, who is now 2. The grandparents want to be designated as the child’s legal guardians and have promised to continue helping their daughter, who lives with them, learn to care for the toddler.

“This mother has good supports. There are no issues of substance abuse or domestic violence,” said Mark Watkins, a lawyer for the mother. “I have complete confidence in the ability of this family to parent this child safely.”

The young mother is now 21 and finishing high school. She has persevered when others simply would have given up. She wants her child and visits her every week. She also takes all the parenting classes she can. No wonder social workers are so hated and feared. I hope that mother and her family regain custody of the baby and sue the heck out of the State and the system. Just because you have a disability, doesn’t mean you can’t care for a baby. It depends on the parent and their support system.

Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Terresa Monroe-Hamilton is an editor and writer for Right Wing News. She owns and blogs at NoisyRoom.net. She is a Constitutional Conservative and NoisyRoom focuses on political and national issues of interest to the American public. Terresa is the editor at Trevor Loudon's site, New Zeal - trevorloudon.com. She also does research at KeyWiki.org. You can email Terresa here. NoisyRoom can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

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