The state of Oregon has denied two parents in the town of Redmond custody of their young sons because of the couple’s profound intellectual limitations.
According to an editorial at OregonLive.com, one state lawmaker is advocating for Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler’s children to be returned to them from foster care — even as Fabbrini’s father works to ensure that his daughter is not left in charge of her sons.
Fabbrini’s second son was taken from her five months ago at birth, following her elder son Christopher into foster care. She has, according to state officials, a functioning IQ of 72. Christopher was born at home on Sep. 9, 2013, his arrival a complete shock to Fabbrini and Ziegler.
“Here and there I have kidney issues so I just thought I was having kidney issues, that’s what I associated the pain with,” Fabbrini said. “I was trying to go to sleep and trying to get comfortable … and I felt this weird pain down there.”
Christopher was born before paramedics arrived and mother and child were taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
Fabbrini’s father Raymond Fabbrini, 74, says his daughter is not a fit parent.
“She doesn’t have the instincts to be a mother,” he told OregonLive’s Samantha Swindler.
Fabbrini, 31, and Ziegler, 38, are both unemployed and live in a three-bedroom house owned by Ziegler’s parents, who live out of state.
Republican state Sen. Tim Knopp says he’s met with Ziegler and Fabbrini and says they seem like they’d be fine parents.
“My impression of them is that they were just like any other couple, and they were trying to be successful in life, just like anyone else would be, and they wanted to be together as a family,” Knopp said. “I didn’t see any issues when I met with them that would automatically disqualify them from being good parents.”
Fabbrini told Swindler that she is desperate to be a mother.
“I love kids, I was raised around kids, my mom was a preschool teacher for 20-plus years, and so I’ve always been around kids,” she said. “That’s my passion. I love to do things with kids, and that’s what I want to do in the future, something that has to do with kids.”
State records say, however, that when Ziegler and Fabbrini were briefly allowed to care for Christopher, Ziegler “slept with the baby on the floor and almost rolled over on him.” Ziegler — whose IQ is around 66, significantly lower than the average IQ of 100 — was also reported to be easily frustrated, absent-minded about feeding his dog, and has to be reminded to do simple things like wash his hands after using the toilet and to apply sunscreen to more of his body than his face.
Knopp, however, believes that for Oregon to deny the parents custody of their children is a form of government overreach.
“The state has a responsibility to help parents reunite with their children, and if there are issues that are keeping them from doing that, especially for people with disabilities, I believe that as a state, we should be supporting them and trying to help them stay together as families,” he told OregonLive. “In a case where there is no specific allegation of abuse or neglect, I think the state should be looking to be supportive of uniting families and not sending kids into foster care.”
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