In a controversial move that is gaining national attention, state social workers in Oregon took a couple’s children away because their IQs are lower than average.
Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler can only see their children in chaperoned visits because the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) thinks they are not smart enough to be parents.
“They are saying they are intellectually incapable without any guidelines to go by,” Sherrene Hagenbach, who formerly worked as a volunteer mediator for DHS and knows the couple, told The Oregonian.
Social workers took their three-year-old son Christopher and a baby named Hunter away earlier this year, The Oregonian reported. DHS cited Ziegler’s IQ of 66 and Fabbrini’s IQ of 72 as a reason for the removal. The average IQ is between 90 and 100.
No allegations of abuse or neglect have been made. Instead their “limited cognitive abilities that interfere with (their) ability to safely parent the child,” was cited as the reason for the removal.
Fabbrini and Ziegler have done everything social workers have asked. They took classes on parenting, first aid, CPR and nutrition, yet their children are still in a foster home.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s good enough for them,” Ziegler said. “They’re saying, ‘Who would parent Christopher better, the foster parents or the parents?’ is basically what they’re going on.”
Said Haenbach, who supports the parents, “They’re saying that this foster care provider is better for the child because she can provide more financially, provide better education, things like that. If we’re going to get on that train, Bill Gates should take my children. There’s always somebody better than us, so it’s a very dangerous position to be in.”
Not even a state senator, Republican Tim Knopp, could help. He backs the couple.
“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.”
Said Ziegler’s aunt, Lara Turner: “I honestly don’t understand why they can’t have their children. I go to the grocery store and I see other people with their children and they’re standing up in the grocery cart … and I think, how come they get to keep their children? How do they decide whose child they’re going to take and whose child can stay?”
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