Not Smart Enough to Raise Their Kids

 

The State of Oregon has taken two children away from their parents because the parents aren’t smart enough to take care of them. I’m not kidding.

While driving in the car, I heard this story on Glenn Beck a few days ago. Beck was going to interview a young woman who had given birth to two children; she had been tested to have an IQ of 72. I expected her to sound like someone who had trouble putting her words together; what I heard was a young, articulate woman who was desperately trying to recover her children. Of course, the story is not quite that simple, so I’ll give you more background.

Amy Fabbrini, 31 years old, gave birth to her child, Christopher, four years ago. The Department of Human Services removed Christopher from his parents’ custody shortly after he was born. Five months ago Ms. Fabbrini had a second child, Hunter, whom the State took directly from the hospital. The parents now live together and have supervised visits with their children. Fabbrini’s partner, Eric Ziegler, tested at a 66 IQ. (Average IQ is between 90 and 110.) They both have high school diplomas.

As Samantha Swindler said in The Oregonian:

No abuse or neglect has been found, but each parent has a degree of limited cognitive abilities. Rather than build a network of support around them, the state child welfare agency has moved to terminate the couple’s parental rights and make the boys available for adoption.

It’s impossible to know the full story when child welfare officials are unable to comment, but the case has left the couple and their advocates heartbroken.

The case lays bare fundamental questions about what makes a good parent and who, ultimately, gets to decide when someone’s not good enough. And it strikes at the heart of the stark choices child welfare workers face daily: should a child be removed or is there some middle ground?

Last year, a volunteer with the State visited the family several times. She is a professional mediator and a board member of Healthy Families of the High Desert, and has credentials for working with children and families. She met with the parents from June through August of last year, and recommended that Christopher be returned to his parents. She was told her services were no longer needed.

Fabbrini has twins from a previous marriage, and shares custody with her ex-husband. Fabbrini’s mother, according to her father, provided most of the parenting for the twins, until his wife died from Alzheimer’s, right before Christopher’s birth; the twins now live with their father.

Fabbrini and Ziegler have taken classes on parenting, first aid, CPR and nutrition from the Women, Infants and Children agency and other organizations.

The State has put both Christopher and Hunter in foster care and want to put them up for adoption. The couple is trying to regain custody of their children. Fabbrini’s aunt, Lenora Tucker, serves as a state-approved chaperone for their visits with Tucker.

In the same article, Susan Yuan, a former associate director of the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion at University of Vermont made this statement:

They (case workers) have very little experience of people with intellectual disabilities, and because all their orientation is for the safety of the child, they err on the side of overprotecting the child without realizing that the parent can do it,” Yuan said. “It’s coming from a good place, but they need more exposure to people with disabilities. She said there are many myths about parents with intellectual disabilities, including the idea that IQ is an important factor in parenting.

Research literature has found that the IQ really doesn’t correlate with parenting until the IQ is below 50. A parent of any IQ, a parent with a 150 IQ, can be a bad parent. … I would say that if the child can be safe and loved in their own family, that this is appropriate parenting and you can put other opportunities in place.

In one sense, the issue is simple: can parents with low IQs parent successfully? But there are other factors involved: both people are unemployed (Fabbrini used to work in a grocery store; Ziegler used to work as a carpet layer, but now collects Social Security for his mental disability). The couple lives in a three-bedroom home owned by Ziegler’s parents. To date, they have lost their efforts to regain custody through the courts.

In September there will be a court case to determine whether they can recover their parental rights.

How do you see this situation?

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  1. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    It recalls to mine Buck v. Bell in which the state decided “three generations of imbeciles are enough” and ruled it was completely fine for the state to forcibly sterilize what ended up being thousands of people from the Progressive Era through the 1970s.

    Taking away people’s children just because these people are “stupid” is a bit like sterilizing them in a different way.

    • #1
  2. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Without due process and proof of severe neglect resulting in obvious physical harm, no government has the right to infringe on parenthood. Few violations of authority could be more grievous. It’s basically kidnapping.

    Taking a child because of presumed likelihood of neglect is worse than taking a person’s firearms or gagging the person because of presumed likelihood of criminal intent. If a person has committed no severe violation, the state has no authority to act. Family precedes all levels of government.

    But authority and power are not equivalent. There have been other examples of official kidnapping.

    • #2
  3. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I’m with Lois and Aaron.  This is government-sanctioned kidnapping.  There’s another word for this sort of interference in parenting:  eugenics.

    • #3
  4. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    How ridiculous. The state has no place here.

    • #4
  5. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    As I recall, this is only one side of the story.  Sure, the parents aren’t too bright, but remember that the government is most likely not allowed to comment on the case as it is sealed.  You have no idea if the parents are doing well or not, or even why the children were removed.  It could very well be that they have endangered the children with their behavior, such as by doing drugs or by getting into violent domestic altercations.

    Glen beck is not a reliable source on such things.

    • #5
  6. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Skyler (View Comment):
    As I recall, this is only one side of the story. Sure, the parents aren’t too bright, but remember that the government is most likely not allowed to comment on the case as it is sealed. You have no idea if the parents are doing well or not, or even why the children were removed. It could very well be that they have endangered the children with their behavior, such as by doing drugs or by getting into violent domestic altercations.

    Glen beck is not a reliable source on such things.

    The actual source, as linked to here, was the Oregonian. Beck had nothing to do with this story other than passing it along to listeners/viewers.

    • #6
  7. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Skyler (View Comment):
    As I recall, this is only one side of the story. Sure, the parents aren’t too bright, but remember that the government is most likely not allowed to comment on the case as it is sealed. You have no idea if the parents are doing well or not, or even why the children were removed. It could very well be that they have endangered the children with their behavior, such as by doing drugs or by getting into violent domestic altercations.

    Glen beck is not a reliable source on such things.

    Well, all of that is true, too.  For sure.

    However, unless I’m mistaken, Oregon was the last state to keep a eugenics board not renamed until the 1980s…

    • #7
  8. ZStone Inactive
    ZStone
    @ZStone

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    How ridiculous. The state has no place here.

    I’m sorry citizen, the state has determined that your Political Quotient (PQ), which measures your ability to make informed and conscientious decisions regarding government, falls below the child rearing threshold. We have determined that you will not be able to adequately explain the workings of or instill an appreciation for government in any offspring you may conceive, therefore any children born to you will be turned over to the state for proper socialization.

    Skyler (View Comment):
    As I recall, this is only one side of the story. Sure, the parents aren’t too bright, but remember that the government is most likely not allowed to comment on the case as it is sealed. You have no idea if the parents are doing well or not, or even why the children were removed. It could very well be that they have endangered the children with their behavior, such as by doing drugs or by getting into violent domestic altercations.

    Glen beck is not a reliable source on such things.

    To be fair, the OP had a link to non Glenn Beck coverage, which does claim that no abuse, etc. occurred. Not proof per se, but I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary…

    • #8
  9. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    If the only issue is that the parents are on the low end of the intelligence range, that’s one thing.

    My (not extensive) experience  is that the state spends unnecessary time dithering before removing children permanently from the custody of people who have no business being anywhere near a child (or maybe even a dog) let alone attempting to rear one.

    By the time children are removed from genuinely toxic households, they are badly damaged and represent a whole other set of challenges for potential adoptive parents. Since the kids only have 18 years (less, really) in which to do all their developmental work, I prefer that we be just a smidge more aggressive about taking kids from bad parents…

    But that’s assuming the state has the same view of what constitutes a “bad parent” as I do. Which is a very rash assumption.

    All other things being equal, children should not be taken from their parents unless there is a real risk of abuse (not spanking;abuse) or neglect. “Neglect” does not mean “does not read them the right bedtime stories” and “abuse” does not mean “makes discouraging remarks about transgenderism.”

     

    • #9
  10. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Skyler (View Comment):
    As I recall, this is only one side of the story. Sure, the parents aren’t too bright, but remember that the government is most likely not allowed to comment on the case as it is sealed. You have no idea if the parents are doing well or not, or even why the children were removed. It could very well be that they have endangered the children with their behavior, such as by doing drugs or by getting into violent domestic altercations.

    If they were doing drugs or had domestic violence, there would be ample public records of this that anyone could obtain. You know, like, arrest records and police incident reports. Curiously enough, no reporter has found any.

    Glen beck is not a reliable source on such things.

    Thankfully, Glenn Beck isn’t the only source for the story.

    • #10
  11. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Susan Quinn:she had been tested to have an IQ of 72.

    Fabbrini’s partner, Eric Ziegler, tested at a 66 IQ. (Average IQ is between 90 and 110.) They both have high school diplomas.

    I am skeptical that these measured values are correct, given that both parents graduated from high school. In any case, anyone having the discipline and concentration to graduate high school should be capable of rearing children, especially with help. At least that should be the presumption.

    • #11
  12. Richard Finlay Member
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    ZStone (View Comment):
    To be fair, the OP had a link to non Glenn Beck coverage, which does claim that no abuse, etc. occurred. Not proof per se, but I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary…


    Susan Quinn
    : Amy Fabbrini, 31 years old, gave birth to her child, Christopher, four years ago. The Department of Human Services removed Christopher from his parents’ custody shortly after he was born. Five months ago Ms. Fabbrini had a second child, Hunter, whom the State took directly from the hospital

    If there were any mistreatment, it apparently was not done by the parents.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    It recalls to mine Buck v. Bell in which the state decided “three generations of imbeciles are enough” and ruled it was completely fine for the state to forcibly sterilize what ended up being thousands of people from the Progressive Era through the 1970s.

    Taking away people’s children just because these people are “stupid” is a bit like sterilizing them in a different way.

    Thanks, Lois. I was aghast. It’s interesting that Oregon must have tons of services (being a blue state) to help these young folks out; instead the state decides that it knows best. Remember Charlie Gard.

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    But authority and power are not equivalent. There have been other examples of official kidnapping.

    I agree, Aaron. It also reminds me of people who justify abortion because of the kind of life a child might live with the parents. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    anonymous (View Comment):
    Ultimately, it’s about control, not compassion.

    The age of authority is approaching its end.

    Thank you for shining additional light on the IQ question, John. I keep saying to myself that these things can’t happen here. It is all about control and it scares the daylights out of me.

    • #15
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The circumstances by which government may intervene should be extremely limited. Generally, prudential judgment cannot be avoided in application of laws and we must rely on the character of individual officials to a degree for appropriate interpretation. But in regard to the most fundamental and inalienable rights which precede any government, leeway should be short.

    That is why I am reluctant to grant the state consideration of psychological abuse or neglect, which cannot be measured as objectively and precisely as physical abuse.

    Unless a kid has been beaten bloody, is malnourished to the point of illness and handicap, or is entirely abandoned, I can’t imagine many circumstances that would demand the child’s emancipation to become a ward of the state.

    As Charleton Heston said of the natural right to self-defense, “from my cold dead hands!” This is a situation demanding highest scrutiny.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Skyler (View Comment):
    As I recall, this is only one side of the story. Sure, the parents aren’t too bright, but remember that the government is most likely not allowed to comment on the case as it is sealed. You have no idea if the parents are doing well or not, or even why the children were removed. It could very well be that they have endangered the children with their behavior, such as by doing drugs or by getting into violent domestic altercations.

    Glen beck is not a reliable source on such things.

    Point taken, Skyler. I’ll track the case, but no one suggested anything about mistreatment or drugs. And it was her family members who reported the situation. They would have been free to say anything they wanted to say to validate their actions.

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    My (not extensive) experience is that the state spends unnecessary time dithering before removing children permanently from the custody of people who have no business being anywhere near a child (or maybe even a dog) let alone attempting to rear one.

    I agree with your comment, Kate. Terrible things have happened to children because the state is neglectful or incompetent. At the same time, these cases should be dealt with quickly, once the children are removed, to reduce the trauma of separation (if there is no obvious problem). These are terrible situations, no mater how we look at them.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Joe P (View Comment):
    Thankfully, Glenn Beck isn’t the only source for the story.

    Just to be clear, too, I’m not a Glenn Beck fan; he’s too radical for my tastes. I sometimes catch him when I’m driving. If I hadn’t checked out the story, and heard her speak, I wouldn’t have posted it.

    • #19
  20. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:she had been tested to have an IQ of 72.

    Fabbrini’s partner, Eric Ziegler, tested at a 66 IQ. (Average IQ is between 90 and 110.) They both have high school diplomas.

    I am skeptical that these measured values are correct, given that both parents graduated from high school. In any case, anyone having the discipline and concentration to graduate high school should be capable of rearing children, especially with help. At least that should be the presumption.

    Yeah but we are talking about high schools in deep blue Oregon. Presumably all one needs to graduate is a pulse.

    • #20
  21. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):
    Yeah but we are talking about high schools in deep blue Oregon. Presumably all one needs to graduate is a pulse.

    I question their “diplomas” also along with the curriculum in the high school. Some are missing the point here. The parents aren’t married and are not self supporting, instead depending on the state for money and parents for a place to live. Furthermore, the woman has now given birth to four children, two of whom, from a past relationship, were raised by her mother until she died. So, one can assume her own mother didn’t think she could adequately care for them, and they are now being taken care of by the father or his family. These people are surely capable of loving their children, but are they capable of raising them? Only if taxpayers support them financially and send someone around to monitor their diets, cleanliness, etc. There is more to this than meets the eye.

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):
    Yeah but we are talking about high schools in deep blue Oregon. Presumably all one needs to graduate is a pulse.

    I question their “diplomas” also along with the curriculum in the high school. Some are missing the point here. The parents aren’t married and are not self supporting, instead depending on the state for money and parents for a place to live. Furthermore, the woman has now given birth to four children, two of whom, from a past relationship, were raised by her mother until she died. So, one can assume her own mother didn’t think she could adequately care for them, and they are now being taken care of by the father or his family. These people are surely capable of loving their children, but are they capable of raising them? Only if taxpayers support them financially and send someone around to monitor their diets, cleanliness, etc. There is more to this than meets the eye.

    This is too slippery a slope.

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):
    These people are surely capable of loving their children, but are they capable of raising them? Only if taxpayers support them financially and send someone around to monitor their diets, cleanliness, etc. There is more to this than meets the eye.

    That’s why I put all that information out there, GWW. Bottom line, even if the issue wasn’t their IQ scores, is it acceptable for the state to take these kids away? We also don’t know if all the services were taken away, would the parents step up and do what they needed to do to take care of the children, such as get jobs, get help with child care, seek help from non-profit organizations? Essentially the state is partly responsible for providing state and local services. This is what happens when government steps in: we create dependency and entitlements.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    This is too slippery a slope.

    Bryan, doesn’t this touch on the work you do? Do you want to add your thoughts?

    • #24
  25. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    anonymous (View Comment):
    An IQ of 72 is fully within the normal range of human intelligence, which spans four standard deviations from 70 to 130. (100 is the mean, and 15 is the standard deviation.)

    I’ll bet that the same people who took these children from their loving parents would also, if you rephrased the questions to trigger others of their slaver biases, Skinner rat respond “IQ does not exist.”

    Ultimately, it’s about control, not compassion.

    The age of authority is approaching its end.

    Just this afternoon I was listening to The Federalist interview with Charles Murray in which one of the points I think I heard him making (near the end) is that the same people who claim that IQ doesn’t exist (or doesn’t measure anything meaningful) typically have high IQ, and live and act as though those with high IQ have an inherent right to rule over those with a lower IQ.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Just this afternoon I was listening to The Federalist interview with Charles Murray in which one of the points I think I heard him making (near the end) is that the same people who claim that IQ doesn’t exist (or doesn’t measure anything meaningful) typically have high IQ, and live and act as though those with high IQ have an inherent right to rule over those with a lower IQ.

    Arrgghhh! Don’t get me started, FST. We keep getting this message from the Left, over and over and over again. It is so arrogant, so condescending and so misguided. I have a friend who assumes that if a person has a doctorate, they must be smart. She has one herself. I tried to tell her tactfully that I  disagreed.

    • #26
  27. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    As a native Oregonian and now again a permanent resident, I can well imagine the process of this department of Pre-crime.  Maybe that’s Brad Avakian’s bailiwick, too?  He’s the one who arbitrarily bankrupted a young Christian couple by administrative fiat for not desiring to bake a cake for a lesbian “marriage.”  If I were still of working age, I’d be outta here for a more reasonable clime, like Texas.

    • #27
  28. ModEcon Inactive
    ModEcon
    @ModEcon

    Simply put, in a free society the government should never be the one to make decisions on what should happen in a situation like this until the point where the government can prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the government must take action due to some moral requirement in regards to the protection and welfare of the child.

    If the government agency cannot prove that there will be real harm, then they don’t have the moral authority to do anything.

     

    • #28
  29. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:she had been tested to have an IQ of 72.

    Fabbrini’s partner, Eric Ziegler, tested at a 66 IQ. (Average IQ is between 90 and 110.) They both have high school diplomas.

    I am skeptical that these measured values are correct, given that both parents graduated from high school. In any case, anyone having the discipline and concentration to graduate high school should be capable of rearing children, especially with help. At least that should be the presumption.

    Yeah but we are talking about high schools in deep blue Oregon. Presumably all one needs to graduate is a pulse.

    You exaggerate. They have some standards. Child rearing ain’t rocket science. After having heard the mom speak in the clip linked in the OP, her cognitive ability appears up to the task.

    • #29
  30. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    ModEcon (View Comment):
    If the government agency cannot prove that there will be real harm, then they don’t have the moral authority to do anything.

    And yet, this couple is asking the government (that’s us) to support them financially, and, presumably, any future children they might have as they are unable to support themselves.

    • #30

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