I know that this isn't GLBTQ-related, but it is disability- and discrimination-related, and I thought maybe some of you would help by donating money or spreading the word. Thanks so much!
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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.