Wednesday, December 30, 2009
A disabled mom fights to keep her son
There's been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about Kaney O'Neill, which I've had ample time to read because I'm still sitting around with my left leg propped up. The sports medicine doc I saw today isn't convinced my ACL is torn, but my lateral meniscus (a.k.a. cartilage) may be. I am learning lots of knee words. MRI on Thursday at 6:45 a.m. Woo. Hoo.
OK, back to O'Neill. As recounted in a Chicago Tribune article, she is a 31-year-old Navy veteran in Des Plaines, Illinois who's a quadriplegic. She can't walk, move her fingers by herself or feel anything from her chest down; she got hurt ten years ago during Hurricane Floyd. Last December, O'Neill discovered she was pregnant. Her ex disagreed she could handle her child and in September, sued her for full custody of their son, Aidan, who's now five months old. He claimed her disability "greatly limits her ability to care for the minor, or even wake up if the minor is distressed."
O'Neill maintains she always has another adult on hand to help care for Aidan, whether it's her full-time caretaker, live-in-brother or her mother. The custody case is expected to return to court in January.
An attorney quoted in the article, Howard LeVine, said, "Certainly, I sympathize with the mom, but assuming both parties are equal (in other respects), isn't the child better off with the father?" He noted that O'Neill would not be able to teach her son to write, paint or play ball. "What's the effect on the child—feeling sorry for the mother and becoming the parent?"
I am pounding the keys as I type this, all riled up. This is not some knee-jerk reaction from the parent of a kid with disabilities. I wouldn't necessarily trust an adult who had Max's challenges—dexterity issues, balance issues, mobility issues—to handle a baby alone. However, as long as O'Neill has an adult around to help with the physical responsibilities, she is up to the job.
Her mind is not paralyzed. Her common sense is not paralyzed. Her personality is not paralyzed. Her heart is not paralyzed.
What say you?