Parenting

UPDATE: Parents with disability can keep baby

Two recent news stories have raised the question: Should the CAS be able to take away children based on a parent's disability or weight?

Photo: Linda Yolanda/iStockphoto

In May, I wrote a blog post about a Mississauga, Ontario, couple who almost lost their baby to the Children’s Aid Society. Their crime? They both have cerebral palsy. (Yup, I’m totally serious.)

The CAS questioned whether Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton could properly care for their newborn son. But good news, The Toronto Star reports that the CAS has backed off and William can stay with his parents.

Wilton and Palisoc have proven that they are more than capable of picking up, changing, feeding and carrying William. They do need a little help with bathing him. But that’s where their 24-hour assisted living comes handy. Staff check on the family every two hours.

I wish Palisoc and Wilton didn’t have to go through this in the first place. I wish CAS came over to ask “how can we help” rather than to assess “are you able?” Thankfully, after much worry, pain and heartache, this family isn’t being needlessly torn apart.

I wish I could say the same for an Ottawa man. I first heard his story in June on CBC Radio’s show “The Current”. In the interview, the man, who can’t be identified, wasn’t sure if he was going to lose his kids. His crime? His weight. (Again, I fool you not.)

According to the CBC, he used to weigh 525 pounds, but now weighs 355 pounds. The Children’s Aid Society was concerned that his obesity affected his ability to parent his two young sons. The CBC further reported that both children were in the care of the Children’s Aid Society after their mother was admitted to the hospital for an overdose. The man was assessed by a family court clinic, which can use obesity as a factor of someone’s ability to parent.

Two days later, an Ottawa court ruled that his sons would be up for adoption. This story is more complicated than the couple with CP. The man also admits to habitual marijuana use and has had anger issues in the past. But apparently the judge brought up his weight during the ruling, saying that losing weight is a full-time job as is caring for two young boys. Apparently, he can’t do both.

I don’t have the court notes, so I can’t assess to what extent this man’s weight factored in the court deciding to take away his children. But both cases raise a larger question: can the CAS take children away from their parents based on a disability or obesity?

What do you think?

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