[nfbmi-talk] To Be Or Not To Be A Blind Parent

Terry D. Eagle terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Tue May 5 22:33:18 UTC 2015


I'll bet Mr Roberts is not too blind to be ordered to pay child support!

 

  _____  

 

A DEVOTED BLACK FATHER IS DENIED THE RIGHT TO PARENT HIS OWN CHILDREN -
BECAUSE HE IS BLIND | The Birmingham TimesBirmingham Times |

May 5, 2015 |

National |

 

A DEVOTED BLACK FATHER IS DENIED THE RIGHT TO PARENT HIS OWN CHILDREN -
BECAUSE HE IS BLIND

 

- Defying sterotypes, then shot down by a biased judge. -

 

Christopher G. Roberts

Christopher G. Roberts, a blind father, and his children playing in the
park.

 

New York, NY (

BlackNews.com)

- The right of the natural parent to the care and custody of his or her
child is considered a fundamental right in the United States. In spite of
that,

a New York Kings County Supreme Judge in Brooklyn has slammed the door on an
American fathers right to parent is own children solely it seems because he

is blind. The judge, in this case, would insert able and in particular
sighted in front of natural parent. No vision, no children sums up the
Courts decision,

upturning decades of civil rights progress and common sense.

 

Despite Christopher G. Roberts serving as his son and daughters primary
caretaker, when he found himself in front of Justice Eric I. Prus, the judge
informed

him that because the children were young (then 3 and 2), and Mr. Roberts was
blind - the judge was concerned about the children being protected from any

hazard. The judge told Mr. Roberts that it was important for someone to be
there asserting that Mr. Roberts was less than a full person, not quite a
someone

in the judges eyes. Remarkably, the judge conditioned Mr. Roberts time with
his children be supervised by a sighted nanny who Mr. Roberts was to hire at

his own expense. Even though Mr. Roberts was once a primary caretaker, the
judge chose to allow him a scant seventeen (17) hours of time with his
children

and then with each second supervised. Such is the horror that unfolded on
May 9th, 2014.

 

Though we have become accustomed to and even desensitized to - custody
disputes as 50% of US marriages end in divorce; in this case there was no
mud-slinging

in May. In fact, Mr. Roberts' wife never even had to testify nor say a word
that day. Nor were there any records by any agency be it social services or

the police, nor from the childrens pediatricians or teachers, suggesting
that Mr. Roberts children had ever been endangered because their father was
blind.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Roberts was a highly sought-after teacher in the
arts where he has taught over 2,000 children from preschool through 12th
grade

in the NYC area. Instead of needing judicial rescue, Mr. Roberts children
were both well cared-for, gifted, living in Park Slope attending private
pre-school

a lifestyle provided for by their blind father. Nonetheless, the judge
ordered "family intervention" sending social services to the home they found
nothing

and ordered all of the childrens time with their father be "supervised" by a
sighted nanny. Had Mr. Roberts been unable to pay for a sighted nanny he
would

have been unable to see his children the children he had been raising at
all.

 

Somehow the fact that tens of thousands of blind parents raise their
children every day without sighted supervision was lost to the judge. It is
hard to

tell how Mr. Roberts' race (black) and gender (as the father, not the
mother) played into his biased decision. Perhaps stereotypes about all of
these traits

continues to play a hand in this case.

 

The worldview undergirding the view that blind people are not capable of
parenting takes us back to a dark time of US history where eugenics and
moral laziness,

prescribed involuntary sterilization for those persons deemed lesser than
not fully someone.

 

Still in 2015, laws have had to be proposed from New York to South Carolina
to ensure that blind parents children are not denied their natural parents
even

as an estimated 4 million parents with disabilities raise their children. To
ensure that blind parents children are not denied custody because they are

unsighted, laws have been proposed in a number of jurisdictions. In the NY
state legislature in 2014, New York bill A09371 was introduced by then
assembly-member

Joan Millman to revise the Family Court Act to prohibit custody decisions
solely on the basis of blindness. After the bill was introduced it was
referred

to the judiciary where no further action was taken. Also in 2014 assembly
member Barbara Clark introduced bill A09223 to revise New Yorks Domestic
Relations

Law to likewise prohibit custody decisions solely on the basis of blindness.
Neither bill has been passed yet but Mr. Roberts case shows how crucial such

legislation is sadly to simply preserve one of blind parents basic human
rights the right to the care and custody of ones own natural children.

 

Almost a year has passed since Mr. Roberts' parental rights were stripped -
he remains resolved to fully restoring his parental rights. Though he was
once

a primary caretaker of his children, he now sees them for only 17 hours each
week even then his time is supervised by a sighted nanny who he has been
ordered

to employ. Mr. Roberts also remains physically blind, but many argue that it
is the judge who cannot see.

 

About Christopher G. Roberts:

Christopher G. Roberts has over 23 years of experience in professional
theatre. He is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Steppingstone
Theatre

Company (SSTC), a not-for-profit arts organization. He has an MFA degree in
acting from Brooklyn College and a BA degree in theater from the University

at Buffalo. As an actor, he has appeared on television in shows such as OZ,
Sex in the City, "What Would You Do," in national network commercials, as
well

as on several daytime dramas. In addition, his regional and international
credits include Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, McCarter Theater in
Princeton,

New Jersey, Exile Theater in Northern Ireland and The Manhattan Theater
Club.

 

Christopher is also a playwright; his first full-length play, Reflections of
a Heart: The Isaac Woodard Story, was produced off-Broadway at The Clurmen

Theatre in June 2010. During his tenure as a director and teacher for
various arts institutions and public schools, he has taught over 2,000
children from

grades pre-K through 12. Christopher was the Head Accessibility Consultant
for Broadway productions such as: Finean's Rainbow ('09), The Miracle Worker

(10), and Catch Me If You Can ('11).

 

He is also a proud and active member of The Performers with Disabilities
Guild and the National Federation of the Blind. Christopher is also featured
with

one of his two longtime mentors, Stephen McKinley Henderson, as well as with
other various well known artists in the groundbreaking book, Acting Teachers

of America: A Vital Tradition. Christopher was the Assistant Director for
Julliards acclaimed production of August Wilsons Joe Turners Come and Gone,
directed

by his other mentor, the late Israel Hicks. Christopher's current and most
important role to date is that of a loving and devoted father to his
children.

 

Additional Information:

 

1)

www.inclusioninthearts.org/projects/national-diversity-forum/opinion-pieces/
christopher-g-roberts/

 

2) Parenting Without Sight: What Attorneys and Social Workers Should Know
about Blindness:

www.nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/brochures/blindparents/parentingwithouts
ight.html

 

3) Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and
Their Children:

www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/

 

4) Christopher Roberts with his children, 0-3 years old:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFG5KGEvK4o

 

-

END-

 

Source:

http://www.birminghamtimes.com/2015/05/a-devoted-black-father-is-denied-the-
right-to-parent-his-own-children-because-he-is-blind/



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