[vendtalk] FW: [Nfb-announce] National Federation of the Blind Successful in Returning Infant to Her Parents

Kevan Worley kevanworley at blindmerchants.org
Mon Jul 26 19:41:28 UTC 2010

Can anyone blind or sighted read the following and wonder why all blind
people should be an active part of the National Federation of the Blind? I
know the principles in this case, this appalling atrocity or something like
it could have happened to any blind person.
-----Original Message-----
From: nfb-announce-bounces at nfbnet.org
[mailto:nfb-announce-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of David Andrews
Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:01 PM
To: david.andrews at nfbnet.org
Subject: [Nfb-announce] National Federation of the Blind Successful in
Returning Infant to Her Parents



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org

National Federation of the Blind Successful
  in Returning Infant to Her Parents

Family Reunited After Wrongful Seizure of Child

Independence, Missouri (July 22, 2010): The 
National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and its 
Missouri affiliate announced today that they have succeeded in
a legal fight to bring a two-month-old infant, 
Mikaela Sinnett, home to her parents, Blake 
Sinnett and Erika Johnson of Independence.  The NFB of Missouri
hired an attorney to assist the couple after 
Mikaela was taken from them at Centerpoint 
Hospital almost immediately after she was born.  For fifty-seven
days the couple, both of whom are blind, were 
allowed to visit their child in foster care but 
were not allowed to bring her home.  The sole reason given
by Missouri's Department of Social Services was 
that the couple was blind and could not properly 
care for Mikaela without the assistance of a sighted person
twenty-four hours a day and seven days a 
week.  An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for 
July 20, but at the last minute the state of Missouri dismissed
the case against the couple.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National 
Federation of the Blind, said: "The National 
Federation of the Blind is pleased that the state of Missouri has
dismissed its case against Blake Sinnett and 
Erika Johnson and returned baby Mikaela to their 
care.  Despite the fact that blind parents are successfully
raising children across the nation, blind 
Americans continue to find that misconceptions 
and stereotypes about the capabilities of blind people too often
result in hasty and unwarranted decisions to 
remove children from the custody of blind 
parents.  The worst nightmare of parents everywhere-having a child
taken away-is sadly part of the lives of too many 
blind parents.  The National Federation of the 
Blind stands ready and willing to help state officials
across the country understand how blind people 
use alternative techniques to care for their 
children.  But the blind of America will not tolerate our children
being taken from us."

"We were and are outraged at the action of 
Centerpoint Hospital and the state of Missouri," 
said Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the
Blind of Missouri.  "Children's services have the 
job of protecting children from abuse and we have 
nothing but admiration for that work.  Taking a child
away because her parents are blind is an entirely 
different matter which violates state and federal 
law.  We have gotten Mikaela back home, but we must
fundamentally change a system that presumes the 
incompetence of blind parents and operates on a 
principle of guilty until proven innocent rather than the
reverse.  We cannot help but think that new 
parents who are blind in Missouri will avoid 
seeking medical and social services that they may need for fear
that they will experience a similar ordeal.   We 
can never give back the two months this family 
has lost, nor can we restore to Erika the joy of nursing
her child that this separation has made impossible.
What we can do is use their adversity to change 
the system that allowed this atrocity and educate 
the people who have mistakenly equated blindness with
a lack of perception, intellect, and judgment."

On May 21, 2010, Erika and Blake went to 
Centerpoint Hospital, where Erika delivered 
Mikaela.  When trying to nurse the baby for the first time, Erika asked
for assistance from a nurse when she thought 
something was wrong.  The nurse said that the 
baby was turning blue and helped reposition the baby, who then
began to take nourishment.  The nurse assured 
Erika that it was common for new mothers to need 
some instruction and that she was doing fine.  Blake and
Erika were therefore surprised when, some four 
hours later, they were met by a children's 
services worker who made inquiries about their vision; asked
how they would feed, diaper, and supervise their 
child; and eventually decreed that Baby Mikaela 
would not be allowed to be discharged with her mother
unless the social worker could be assured there 
would be constant supervision by someone with 
sight.  On the recommendation of Missouri's Children's Protective
Services, Mikaela was placed in foster care and 
one-hour visits were arranged for several times 
each week.  When the National Federation of the Blind of
Missouri determined that blindness was the only 
reason the child was taken by the state, the 
organization hired attorney Amy Coopman to handle the case.
The National Federation of the Blind now has the 
option to file complaints with the Missouri Human 
Rights Commission and/or the federal Office for Civil
Rights, as well as at least three options that 
can be pursued in the state's courts.


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National 
Federation of the Blind is the largest and most 
influential membership organization of blind people in the United
States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives 
through advocacy, education, research, 
technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence.
It is the leading force in the blindness field 
today and the voice of the nation's blind.  In 
January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the
Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and 
training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.

         David Andrews and long white cane Harry, dandrews at visi.com
Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dandrews920

Nfb-announce mailing list
Nfb-announce at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for

More information about the VendTalk mailing list