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?

Published in Culture
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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    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.

    So that raises the question, do they owe the state something in return?

    • #31
  2. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    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.

    Many parents are unable to support their children. This does not justify or result in removing children from the home. Separate the support issues from the parental rights issue.

    • #32
  3. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    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.

    Not soon enough.   May God vent his wrath on the people who kidnapped those children.

    • #33
  4. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    A couple of thoughts as a former foster parent and also the parent of developmentally disabled children (in CA):

    1. A child can be in a special ed track, meet all the requirements (modified, for sure) and get a high school diploma.
    2. We fostered a 2-year old born to low IQ parents (not sure if they met the standard for mental retardation). She was raised in the birth home with visits from social workers who we knew who worked hard to keep her in the home. Alas, the care she received was abysmal and she was removed from the home.
    3. A 2-year old can be really screwed up from being in a bad home.
    4. A social worker once told us they don’t remove kids from homes for recreational drug use. If they did there would be too many kids in foster care.
    5. This is just a hunch, but I think track record may influence the decisions here. From personal experience I know that if birth mom lost custody of kid 1, the state is less likely to give her a chance on kid 2, etc.
    6. Kids are resilient, but the early years are extremely important. See point #3.
    7. It’s a scary thought that states can take kids away from parents.
    • #34
  5. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Susan Quinn: They both have high school diplomas.

    Yea, Anyone involved closely with public schools might tell you that statement that may need a comparative review of the transcript. .

    • #35
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Kim K. (View Comment):
    A couple of thoughts as a former foster parent and also the parent of developmentally disabled children (in CA):

    Thank you so much for chiming in, Kim! Very helpful information to fill out the picture. And many thanks for having been a foster parent; you have a generous spirit.

    • #36
  7. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Kim K. (View Comment):
    A couple of thoughts as a former foster parent and also the parent of developmentally disabled children (in CA):

    1. A child can be in a special ed track, meet all the requirements (modified, for sure) and get a high school diploma.
    2. We fostered a 2-year old born to low IQ parents (not sure if they met the standard for mental retardation). She was raised in the birth home with visits from social workers who we knew who worked hard to keep her in the home. Alas, the care she received was abysmal and she was removed from the home.
    3. A 2-year old can be really screwed up from being in a bad home.
    4. A social worker once told us they don’t remove kids from homes for recreational drug use. If they did there would be too many kids in foster care.
    5. This is just a hunch, but I think track record may influence the decisions here. From personal experience I know that if birth mom lost custody of kid 1, the state is less likely to give her a chance on kid 2, etc.
    6. Kids are resilient, but the early years are extremely important. See point #3.
    7. It’s a scary thought that states can take kids away from parents.

    Agree completely, even with the parts that seem mutually exclusive.

    Thank God for good foster parents.

    • #37
  8. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    This is a very sad story with no EZ solution.

    My first instinct is if the children are in no danger, loved, fed, and clothed, the government is out of line in attempts to sever parental weights. At the very least the parents need an advocate.

    Being unemployed is no measure of parenting, and heaven knows we have safety nets in place for parents more brutal and uncaring.

    We need Solomon’s Wisdom on this.

    • #38
  9. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I take @goldwaterwoman‘s point about the state already being involved.  But what are the limits of the state?  It’s a super complicated interaction.  I’m not sure we know all the details here either.  I think the reaction of many here is to the power the state has, which few people could really resist.

    • #39
  10. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Kim K. (View Comment):
    This is just a hunch, but I think track record may influence the decisions here. From personal experience I know that if birth mom lost custody of kid 1, the state is less likely to give her a chance on kid 2, etc.

    True. And there are sometimes when children should be removed at birth, based on circumstances of proven and previous abuse of older children.

    Imagine the horror during an 18-month investigation of infant abuse (non-accidental head injury, more than once) the first infant is proven clearly abused, 4 children removed from the home. Meanwhile mom is pregnant during the case, the new infant arrives near the conclusion of the first case, but the incorrect paper shuffle leaves the new infant in the home, facing who knows what.

    It is a double edged sword, and the incompetency of government knows no bounds.

    • #40
  11. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If the prevailing judgment is that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for the children of unemployed adults with disabilities, then the focus of policy should be on limiting welfare programs rather than seizing children (which is the more onerous financial burden anyway, even if it was not morally reprehensible).

    Certainly, there are problems in such cases without clear solutions. Private charity can do much, if not all.

    • #41
  12. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I’m not sure we know all the details here either.

    It’s quite the conundrum without meeting the father. Why wasn’t he included in the conversation? The advocate who called Glen Beck is giving us only one side of the picture. I was suspicious after listening to the mother as she sounded far more articulate than someone  with her IQ is capable.  I know two young women with her same intellect who are totally incapable of speaking on that level. Was someone substituted to speak in her stead?  I agree with Lois as there is something missing in this story.

     

    • #42
  13. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Joe P (View Comment):
    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.

    What makes you think that?  When children are born under the influence of meth, there typically aren’t any arrests, for example.

    And they may have started this case because a child was found wandering in the woods, but later in the course of the CPS case the parents were found to be using meth.

    The fact is that you just don’t know.  No one knows who isn’t involved with the case.

    The parents have lawyers, the children should have lawyers, and CPS has a lawyer, and there’s also a judge.  I’m not familiar with Oregon CPS, but this nonsense of trying a case in the newspaper and Glenn Beck radio show is ridiculous.  These parents could be getting a bad rap, but my money is on that there is more to the story that we’re not privy to.

    • #43
  14. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    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.

    I don’t know Oregon, but I’m intimately familiar with Texas CPS.  I work as a lawyer representing children and parents in the CPS courts.  Texas has probably the worst CPS in the country, so I’m guessing that other states are going to be at least that level.

    There are a lot of differences in how the states do things, but in general there is a period the parents are given to rehabilitate themselves.  In Texas the default is one year.  In that time the parents have to do “services” such as take classes, do drug tests, visit with the children, etc., to show that they can be good parents. In the course of that year if all goes well, the parents get more and more time with the kids and eventually a return.  Children typically aren’t returned if the parents just are too much of a mess to take care of the kids or they don’t do the services.

    There are certainly some cases where people might think the judge is wrong or CPS is behaving poorly, but in general there are so many people involved that are adversarial, that it’s hard to believe that a story like this can be true.  Why isn’t the lawyer for the parents appealing decisions by the lower court to remove the children?  That’s the most obvious thing to do.  If that hasn’t happened, then my default observation is that he’s blowing smoke and trying to get public support for a very weak legal case.

    • #44
  15. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    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 remember watching a an episode of Forensic Files where the police badgered the witness into admitting guilt for a murder.  His IQ was apparently 74.  I didn’t know what a person with a 74 IQ would be like.  He seemed rather normal except for his insistence upon using double-negatives when he spoke.

    Have someone check on the family every week or month might be a good idea, but it might be much better if that was not done by the state.  Are two parents like this that much worse or even better than a single parent with an 85 IQ?

    • #45
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I had a case where the mother had an extremely low IQ, maybe in the 40’s?  I don’t remember.  She could answer very simple questions but one time the bathroom door was locked and she stood in front of the door for an hour not knowing what to do about it.  She was very sweet and kind, but she had no family (they probably were using her to get money from African immigrants through marriage to her).

    Her child was removed.  That was the worst case I’ve ever had, in that I knew it was the right thing to do, but I hated supporting it.

    • #46
  17. Audacious Member
    Audacious
    @Audacious

    Here’s a huge irony:   What do you suppose the average IQ is of parents who support/enable “gender fluidity” in their young children?  Nobody seems to be seeking to remove those children from an abusive situation.

    • #47
  18. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

     

     

     

    • #48
  19. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    I share Aaron’s position and admire his contained fury here.  But just to throw some more good sociological and biological good cheer into this distressing tale, here is a list of countries where the young couple’s IQ would fall well  within the normal range and even exceed the average IQ (Lynn/Vanhanen).  Do you imagine the same metric could possibly used as an aspect of our immigration policy?   Use a metric to take an American couple’s children from them, but malign it when admitting young fertile immigrants.  That’s progressive logic.

    • #49
  20. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    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.

    If a person has a doctorate they know essentially everything known about one particular subject area. They may not know much about many, many other subject areas. The problem arises when they presume to act as if this isn’t true and begin lecturing us about subjects they should be less certain about. They are entitled to opinions on any subject but no doctorate makes one an expert in every area of life.

    • #50
  21. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Susan Quinn: Susan Yuan:”because all their orientation is for the safety of the child, they err on the side of overprotecting the child”

    This is the core of the issue.  As long as someone can claim it is for the safety of the child, anything the state does goes.

    Deemed ‘not too smart’ by the state?  Safety of the child, can’t be left with the parents.

    Have a gun in the home?  Safety of the child, gotta take them.

    Child forced to pray before meals?  Safety of the child, out they go.

    Parents own a MAGA hat?  …  You see where I’m going.  As long as the safety of the child is defined by ‘pre crime’  ( what might happen if the state does not step in) then nothing is out of bounds.

    Do you really want the state to have that kind of power over your children?

    • #51
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    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?

    Either raising your own children is a fundamental right, or it is not. If the message is “Other parents could raise this child better” then there is no stopping the state. We cannot use the State to give every child the perfect upbringing. We cannot. This is hubris and a will to power. It is evil.

    • #52
  23. Michael Brehm Coolidge
    Michael Brehm
    @MichaelBrehm

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I have a friend who assumes that if a person has a doctorate, they must be smart.

    Working one year in academic publishing will disabuse one of the notion.

    • #53
  24. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    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.

    I’m sorry, how does this work exactly? If you get welfare, the government can take your kids, because the act of taking welfare means that every aspect of your life becomes the government’s business?

    Do you apply this logic to everything? Should we start confiscating property of social security recipients because they take taxpayer money to support themselves?

    • #54
  25. Ralphie Inactive
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    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

    It doesn’t surprise me.  Most students get A’s today or there is hell to pay for damaging their egos.

    I agree that to place a specific number of IQ as THE measure of qualification for parenthood is  nuts.  I don’t think it is really the state’s business after they legally allow people to marry to interfere with their reproductive rights.  The next step is gaining permission to have children.

    • #55
  26. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Joe P (View Comment):
    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.

    What makes you think that? When children are born under the influence of meth, there typically aren’t any arrests, for example.

    If drugs were the reason that the kids were taken away by the government, the government would have to know that the parents were doing drugs. How would the government obtain this knowledge in such a way as to use it as the basis for removing children, without creating a paper trail somewhere?

    And they may have started this case because a child was found wandering in the woods, but later in the course of the CPS case the parents were found to be using meth.

    Actually, this case started because a friend of theirs dropped a dime on them to the government. So maybe we should stop inventing stories about meth in the woods.

    The fact is that you just don’t know. No one knows who isn’t involved with the case.

    Right, but some possibilities are just plain silly.

    The parents have lawyers, the children should have lawyers, and CPS has a lawyer, and there’s also a judge. I’m not familiar with Oregon CPS, but this nonsense of trying a case in the newspaper and Glenn Beck radio show is ridiculous. These parents could be getting a bad rap, but my money is on that there is more to the story that we’re not privy to.

    We’ll find out soon enough.

    • #56
  27. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):
    It’s quite the conundrum without meeting the father. Why wasn’t he included in the conversation?

    I have seen him do media with his wife. She tends to do all of the talking. I don’t think he speaks to reporters. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because his IQ is significantly lower than hers and thus he sounds more obviously impaired. Not saying anything in the smart thing for him to do if that’s the case.

    • #57
  28. Ralphie Inactive
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    This story makes me mad.   They cannot say these children will be better off, only that they think they will be because of a prejudicial standard.    For those of us that are Christians, we know that intelligence can go away, that boasting is vain, and that love is patience and kind.  These parents seem to be patient and kind from what I read (which is all I know).  That is what makes secure kids and adults: my parents were there for me.  The state cannot care. There are rules and standards, and policies. And most of those things are in place not to help the intended people, but the ones employed.

     

    • #58
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):
    It’s quite the conundrum without meeting the father. Why wasn’t he included in the conversation?

    The father was discussed in the article, so you get a limited impression of him. Regarding the conversation, he might have just felt his wife could handle it, plus being on national radio is no small thing! Regarding her being articulate, I’m sure the ability to communicate varies based on more than IQ; she may have been chatty by nature, and developed that skill.

    • #59
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Skyler (View Comment):
    These parents could be getting a bad rap, but my money is on that there is more to the story that we’re not privy to.

    Of course there’s more, Skyler. Please note that the case only became “public” recently. Mainly, Amy would like to see if there’s a way to fund more than a public defender. She’s not looking for publicity; she wants her kids back.

    I put up this post not so much to litigate this case on Ricochet, but to bring attention to the overreach of the state. We can’t be sure that’s what is happening here, but it certainly is happening more and more as the state thinks it should be in charge of everyone’s life. Still, I appreciate your skepticism and caution.

    • #60
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