The Missouri Department of Social Services took it upon themselves to remove a 2-day-old baby girl from her blind parents. No allegations of current or future abuse was reported.
New parents, Blake Sinnett and Erika Johnson, of Independence, Missouri were forced to hand over their newborn daughter, Mikaela, to the Department of Social Services on May 23, 2010. Their parental rights were not taken because of drug or alcohol abuse, accusations of physical abuse, or even a record of being incapable of caring for their child. Their child was simply taken away because the couple is blind.
The complaint that initiated social services to quickly begin the process of “protecting” the newborn was instigated by Johnson’s lactation nurse. Like all new mothers, Johnson had difficulty during her first nursing session with Mikaela. News-Leader.com reports, “The 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.” Due to this observation, the nurse opined, “the child is without proper custody, support or care due to both parents being blind and they do not have specialized training to assist them.”
57 days went by and the parents were only allowed to see their child 2-3 hours a week with the supervision of a foster parent. Even then, they were not permitted to hold Mikaela, “all we could do was touch her arm or leg.” She went on to inform, “Disability does not equal inability.”
The National Federation of the Blind of Missouri stepped in and notified other associations for the blind to rally in protest of the thinly veiled discrimination that was underway. Johnson admitted, “I needed help as a new parent, not as a blind parent.”
The state is dismissing their case and Mikaela has been returned to her parents. Sinnett and Johnson’s attorney states, “Every minute that has passed that this family wasn’t together is a tragedy. A legal tragedy and a moral one, too.”
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The Men’s Divorce Law Firm aggressively fights for the ongoing protection and preservation of Father’s rights because we believe that contact with both parents is in the child’s best interest. Managing Attorney, Jeffrey Feulner, recently was able to gain custody for a blind father and his children. We strongly disagree with discrimination and withholding contact from the child’s parents. If you or someone you know has their parental rights being threatened, please contact us to discuss all options available.
You may not have heard about some of the advanced technology available for the vision impaired, but to give you an idea, here are some of our favorites for parents:
- Talking Technology: Thermometers that speak your temperature; Microwaves and Kitchen Appliances; Weight Scales, Clocks and more.
- Document Scanner: A scanner and speech reading software that allows a document to be scanned and then read back to you. Helps with homework, notes from healthcare professionals, teachers, etc.
- Downloadable Braille: Parents can download children’s books into Braille format so that they can read while their child follows along in the book.
- Sneaker Squeakers: A device that can be secured to children’s shoes so parents know where they are at all times.
- Braille Board Games: Checkers, Chess, Scrabble, Monopoly, Connect Four, etc.
A young woman shares an intimate portrait of how being raised by her blind parents has made her world even more compassionate, beautiful and rewarding because of her parents’ disability. To read, ‘I’d like to have seen you,’ my mother says, ‘but it’s not as important as people think,” click here.