[Nfbmo] Setting the record straight about Baby Mikaela andherparents
gwunder at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 26 12:47:53 UTC 2010
Thanks Dan. This helps keep things in perspective.
From: nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of DanFlasar at aol.com
Sent: Sunday, July 25, 2010 9:07 AM
To: nfbmo at nfbnet.org
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] Setting the record straight about Baby Mikaela
If there's one thing the struggle for Civil Rights has made
painfully clear again and again - no one will ever give us our rights - we
have to stake them out and relentlessly defend them. The inertia of the
well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) ignorant functions as a relentless
friction on the forward motion of our mission.
To let this pass not only leaves the possibility that it will happen again
but also a precedent that there will be no repercussions for doing so.
It's not vengeance - it's bringing a wrong to public viewing which, given
th eweight of public optoin and the NFB's legal actions, can identify how
this travesty took place and how it can be effectively prevented.
I caught the very tail end of a local FOX news story about this case
Friday evening but haven't been able to see the whole story.
Thanks for your persistence in making the facts of this case kown,
Gary. I can tell you that when I manned the Missouri table at the
convention I spent most of the time talking to NFB members (and some
vendors) about this case. I heard the same fears you described, expressed
with outrage, dismay and an evident resolve to right this wrong.
In a message dated 7/25/2010 6:42:46 A.M. Central Daylight Time,
johnsusanford at earthlink.net writes:
You have done a tremendous job of stating the NFB position on this
As a member of the state Board I support the position you have reiterated
and what we still must do about it. What was done is nothing less than a
threat to every blind couple who has or plans to have children or to adopt
them. We must insist that our civil rights are not violated.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gary Wunder" <gwunder at earthlink.net>
To: "'NFB Chapter Presidents discussion list'"
<chapter-presidents at nfbnet.org>; "nfbmo list" <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2010 9:29 PM
Subject: [Nfbmo] Setting the record straight about Baby Mikaela and
> Hello folks. I've been off the list for a couple of days, and I have
> to tell you that I'm somewhat disheartened by some of the messages.
> It's almost like the facts have gotten lost here. Let me see if I can
> put some of them down.
> When Erika first attempted to feed her baby, she was not given
> as to how to do it. She was the one who reported a problem, and that
> problem was resolved simply by repositioning the baby and showing
> Erika how to ensure that the baby's nose was free for breathing. The
> hospital records do not reflect anything to indicate there was a code
> blue or that anyone besides the nurse had to become involved in the
> Now we come to what happened afterward. You can certainly make the
> argument that the nurse, if there was any kind of question, thought of
> herself as
> mandated reporter and took the safe road by calling the Children's
> Services Division. For me the biggest problem is what happened after
> Services Division became involved. Erika reports that she was asked
> how she would bathe her baby, diaper it, know where it was, and take
> its temperature. These questions she answered. That should have been
> When we heard about this incident, we started by contacting
> Services for the Blind, which, like the Children's Services Division,
> part of the Missouri Department of Social Services. They were
> certainly upset by the situation, offered services, but told the
> judge they were
> difficult position because, while they had offered their services to
> educate The Children's Services Division about issues of blindness,
> they were in no position to see that their offer was accepted.
> We contacted the Children's Services Division both through in formal
> channels and through legal counsel. They were not interested in
> learning about blindness. They were not interested in talking with us.
> When we were involved in what was the second hearing regarding this
> case, the judge (actually she is called a commissioner) was quite
> concerned about the actions of the agency and let it be known. She
> observed that this
> certainly was not the first blind couple to raise a child, and that
> she would be very surprised if the hospital in question had not seen
> blind parents before. She indicated that while she was on vacation,
> an attempt should be made to increase the number of visits which
> Blake and Eric got with Mikaela, that some of those visits should be
> unsupervised, and that there should be some overnight visits in the
> mix. This did not find its way into her written decision, however,
> and with the exception of one unsupervised visit, which took place on
> the Friday before Mikaela was returned, I know of only one
> unsupervised visit in the fifty-seven days
> which Erika and Blake were prevented from caring for their child.
> There were no overnight visits, unsupervised or otherwise.
> Some have observed here that the Children's Services Division
> the right thing by coming to its senses. May I politely respond hogwash!
> Children's Services Division started negotiations on the day before
> the evidentiary hearing was to take place. They delivered Mikaela to
> 9 AM, produced papers for our lawyer at 11 AM, and all to avoid the
> hearing which was scheduled for 3 PM. They did not benevolently
> relent. They waited as long as they possibly could before having to
> defend their actions with Blake, Erika, and the national Federation
> of the blind being represented by counsel.
> There has been a lot of discussion about whether the actions we are
> now going to take are vengeful or punitive. The religions which many
> of us share give us no right to be vengeful. Let me ask you to
> consider whether we should let Blake and Erika's case rest now that
> they have custody of
> child, or whether we should use it, as we have used so many others in
> the past, to establish some meaningful precedent. I, for one, am not
> to let the prevailing legal wisdom be that you can take a child from
> parents and, if you decide you've made a mistake after 57 days, can
> them with no consequences. I respect the work that children's
> services workers do. I want children protected from abuse. I want
> children removed from homes where drug use makes the parents
> irresponsible. I want
> removed from homes where they are clearly neglected. I do not wish to
> the lives of hard-working public servants more difficult than they
> are. Nevertheless, I don't think those of us in the National
> the Blind should be happy or comfortable with settling for anything
> less than a systemic change. What was done was against the law. The
> Federal Office for Civil Rights is extremely interested in the case.
> There are at least three motions we are prepared to file in the court
> system where
> legal and constitutional rights of blind people have been violated.
> One of the most troubling experiences I had at the national
> convention this year was talking with young people who almost begged
> me to convince them they were hearing it wrong. Some came to talk
> with me and started our conversation by asking whether this was some
> urban legend which had
> started on the Internet with which my name had been associated. I had
> to tell them that it was no urban legend and that its association
> with my name was no accident. Others came to ask me whether this was
> a past event
> somehow had resurfaced. What they wanted to know was how long ago
> happened. No matter the questions with which they came, all of them
> left badly shaken. Many remarked that they were newly engaged and
> to have children. Others reported being newly married and that a
> on the way. All of them were concerned, because they thought all of
> these issues about child custody and blindness had long since been
> resolved by the National Federation of the Blind.
> Sometimes government bashing takes second place only to the World
> Series and the Super Bowl in terms of a public past time, and I don't
> want to be a part of that. What I do want to see the Federation be a
> part of is exposing this behavior for exactly what it is, and for
> saying to everyone who has ears, whether they work in a social
> service agency, a hospital, a newspaper,
> some small factory down the road, that blindness is no reason to take
> a child from its parents. Should we educate? Of course we should, and
> no doubt one of the things we will be asking that the court address
> is education for the entities that are the targets of our actions.
> I understand, as do we all, that blindness is a terribly
> misunderstood disability, and whenever I can, I try to be
> compassionate about the way I address the issue. Even so, there is a
> difference between being compassionate and understanding about people
> who are ignorant when it comes to what we need and what we can do,
> and concluding that because there is widespread misunderstanding, we
> really have no right to complain or do anything about it. I think we
> have to make a firm statement. That firm statement has to be "You
> will not take our children. If you do, there
> be consequences and they will be severe. If you will let us teach you
> through our public outreach and our seminars, will be glad to have
> you, but if you make us, we will teach you in the commissions and
> courts charged with defending the civil rights of America's
> As a final note, let me suggest that Missouri happens to be the state
> receiving attention now, but Missouri is no different from many other
> states when it comes to their knowledge of blind people and the speed
> with which they address issues such as this. One person several weeks
> ago wrote to inquire in what small backward town this took place,
> only to learn the small town was not a small town at all but Kansas
> City. Geography offers us little protection. We must all be vigilant
> and guard against the idea that this could never happen to us because
> we live in a more progressive community.
> P.S. We have some reason to believe this will receive national
> CBS on Monday morning.
> Nfbmo mailing list
> Nfbmo at nfbnet.org
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