I came across a story this past week and I've lost sleep over it because it disturbs me that much! Please take the time to read this:
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:
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.
My first reaction to this story was pure anger! How could this happen? Why did this happen?...and a few other choice words. However, right now, my heart just hurts. For those of your who are parents, or dream of being parents, can you imagine the heartache of having your child taken away from you!?! It's hearwrenching.
I know I ask sometimes for help financial for causes I believe in and, of course, if you can help bring Mikaela home financially, that is wonderful. However, if you can't please send a few extras prayers up for this family.
I will forever devote my life to making life better for blind people even if in the tiniest way. Our fight for equal rights is far from over, it's here today and Mikaela needs to come home to her family!