Since when is it a crime to be blind? Shame on the State of Missouri. The abduction of Erika Johnson’s newborn by the Missouri state authorities for 57 days is a precautionary take for all disabled mothers.
Johnson and her partner, Blake Sinnett are the proud parents of Baby Mikaela who was born at Centerpoint Hospital in Missouri. Like most new mothers, Johnson’s first attempt to breastfeed Mikaela was clumsy. She felt something was wrong in her technique and switched breasts but not before the nurse on duty deemed Johnson to be an incompetent mother and alerted the State’s authorities. Before Johnson had a chance to bond with Mikaela, she was whisked away by the authorities and a protracted custody battle ensued.
Johnson’s battle reminds me of the ongoing struggle of Abbie Dorn, a disabled mom who is fighting for visitation rights to see her triplet sons and my own family member, who suffered from schizophrenia. She never had the opportunity to bond with her infant daughter who was placed in a foster home never to be seen for the next seventeen years at which it was too late to forge a healthy relationship. Attachment disorders are real. My relative’s daughter felt abandoned, her mother felt betrayed by a system that was allegedly supposed to help her.
I know that Johnson is capable of caring for her daughter. I’ve witnessed blind couples caring for sighted children while living in New York on numerous occasions. What is wrong with us as a society when we are quick to judge and slow to help?
Although Johnson and Sinnett have regained custody of their daughter, the battle is far from over. They will be subjected to strict scrutiny by social service agencies for the next 18 years of Mikaela’s life.
I strongly recommend that all disabled pregnant women become well-versed with the Americans with Disabilities Act and its association prior to giving birth. Having a disability is not a crime. Being discriminated against because of one is.