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Massachusetts agency kept mom and infant apart for 2 years

It's a given that parents must possess the ability to properly care for their children in order for them to grow up safely. But just how mentally able must the parents be? How can that be quantified legally?

Once again, the Massachusetts Department of Child and Families managed to split apart a loving parent from her child, as one 22-year-old woman with developmental delays had her newborn infant removed from her care while she was still hospitalized recuperating from the birth.

Mother and daughter were only reunited two years later after the mother waged a contentious legal battle to get her baby back. But she will never be able to reclaim those bonding moments the two were denied.

The problem began back in 2013, when DCF investigators announced they were going to take the infant from her mother, claiming there were concerns about the new mother's "ability to meet the basic needs of a newborn child."

Her developmental problems included difficulties telling time, problems paying attention and clumsiness. By the time the newborn was 11 days old, she was living in a foster home that became permanent. Records indicate that the mother was said to take too long changing diapers and didn't hold the baby safely, among other observations.

If the agency was concerned about a single mom with developmental difficulties living alone and being unable to manage her baby's care, it would perhaps be easier to understand the position of the DCF in the matter. However, in this case, the young mom had the full support of her own parents; her mom quit working to help care for her granddaughter.

What is significant in this case is that the agency disrupted the bonding process between mother and child and never gave the woman a legitimate opportunity to demonstrate she could rise to the challenge of motherhood.

Instead, she was forced to launch a legal battle with the assistance of independent living advocates. The Department of Justice even weighed in on the mom's side when she filed a complaint of discrimination in 2014 against the Massachusetts agency.

Those in similar circumstances may also need to retain legal counsel to fight back against the presumptuous attempts of a state agency to determine what is best for their children.

Source: Cosmopolitan, "Too Disabled to Care for a Child? How One Mom Fought the State to Bring Her Baby Home," Prachi Gupta, Jan. 25, 2016

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