“Unfit” to parent

Of all the reasons one can think of denying someone custody of their children, the last reason is their fitness level. Yet a court recently decided to take away a man’s children because he was literally “unfit” to parent:

An Ottawa man whose obesity played a factor in whether he was fit enough to be a father has lost custody of his children after a judge ruled Wednesday that his two boys would be put up for adoption.

In the judge’s ruling, the father was described as a “loving” and “intelligent” father who held deep hatred for the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa.

The ruling noted that the man had “angry outbursts” at CAS workers and threatened to go on a hunger strike if he lost custody of his sons.

The ruling also noted that the father didn’t know his own strength, with child-welfare workers re-porting that they felt pain from his handshake alone.

The court ruling, reviewed by the Citizen, noted that the man, who at one time weighed 525 pounds, may have trouble keeping up his daily weight-loss program while taking care of his four-and six-year-old boys, who both have special needs.

The ruling also noted that the 38-year-old father showed no signs of abuse toward the boys and that he was an avid gamer, playing World of Warcraft, the popular video-fantasy game, for up to 24 hours at a time. (He contends he played it once a week from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.)

The ruling notes no signs of physical abuse toward the children and says his home is “suitable,” but predicts that it won’t be in future be-cause he may need housemates to pay the rent.

It also notes that the man used to fight with his ex-wife, with whom he hasn’t lived in three years, and that he used to smoke a lot of marijuana.

The court essentially admits it has no good reason to take away the man’s children. Few people like social workers, especially when they are intent on taking someone’s kids, so it comes as no surprise that this man treats social workers with contempt. The court found no evidence that the man abused his sons, so the part about him not knowing his own strength makes no sense.

It appears that the only reason the court took the man’s kids is because he did not want the court involved in his life and because he wanted to lose the weight his own way.

But the court’s response was not only to take custody of the man’s sons, but to place them up for adoption. Ironically, one of the boys was placed in the home of a single mother with five kids. Yet the greater irony is this:

In fact, the father dropped to 340 pounds from 525 pounds and now weighs 380. He lost the weight on his own, refusing to undergo the sometimes deadly gastric bypass surgery at Ottawa Hospital.

The man acknowledges that he’s not perfect, but he says he’s a good father. “The only thing they have against me is my weight. I’m not too fat to be a dad. I can be a good dad. I almost ate myself to death but these days I eat really healthy meals,” he told the Citizen.

He said Wednesday night that he was ready to starve himself to death protest the judge’s ruling.

“The whole country will see exactly how serious I am.”

The man was clearly willing to lose weight. Placing his kids up for adoption looks to be nothing more than a punishment, and that is a cruel thing to do to someone who has not done anything wrong. It makes no sense why the court would bar him from seeing his sons (he has not seen them in a year), let alone take away custody. At the very least the court could have placed those boys in foster care until the father reached the weight the court felt was “appropriate” for him to be a parent.

This is a truly moronic decision.

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4 thoughts on ““Unfit” to parent

  1. Even after working for CPS as a social worker for 13 years and witnessing first hand some of the atrocities committed by my agency, this story shocking. I seen cases where social workers found child abuse where none existed and I’ve seen courts uphold the removal of children in those cases because the judge was afraid of making the wrong decision and sending kids home to abusive parents. But in this case they aren’t even alleging the children have been abused and are wanting to put the kids up for adoption. the case is so far out in left field that I can’t help but think that there’s something we aren’t being told.

    I once inhereted a case from another social worker where the foster parents would play on the father’s ill temper by deliberately provoking angry outbursts and use them to deny him visitation. In one instance, the father showed up 10 minutes late for a supervised visit at a local park. The foster parents were walking the children back to the car when the father showed up for his visit. They refused to return to the park and insisted that they were leaving because he was late. He became angry and tossed a paper cup full of soda onto the ground. The foster parent called the police and accused him of making threats. Fortunately he wasn’t arrested. His visit was to have lasted an hour and there was still 50 minutes left so there was no reason for them to have not stayed for the remaining time.

    As the social worker assigned to the case, I used the incident (and several others) to justify removing the children from the foster parents and placing them into a different foster home. The judge didn’t like it and neither did I because they were otherwise good foster parents who wanted to adopt the children, but the court had delayed the adoption proceedings for more than a year because the foster parents were interfering with the reunification process. The parents were not appropriate parents. They were both violent drug users and the mother had stabbed the father in the prescence of the children on two different occasions. There was no way I was ever going to recommend the children be returned to the parents, the judge also knew this, But the law said they had a right to reunification services (including visitation) and as long as they had not received that service the case could not move forward.

    It seems really odd that a court would terminate a father’s parental rights in a case where the father is not a threat to the children and is not accused of abusing the kids. My instincts tell me that there is more to this case than what is in the media. If not, it is a travesty.

  2. TDOM, I think there may be more to the story, but I doubt the reporters would not mention it. It also seems unlikely the judge would not mention it in his ruling. I do know from experience that social services does not like to deal with people who do not respect them. Whether it is the parents, the foster parents, or the kids themselves, any contention between those folks and social services can end badly. But this is the first time I have heard of anything like this, especially with the father actually losing weight his own way.

  3. Ok. What gives. How do they have the right to take away his kids due to weight? How is weight even an issue? Was he threatened with losing them if he hadn’t gone on a diet?

  4. Here’s an interesting story about a father losing custody, and the strange way they are attempting to resolve the situation in CA.

    From MSNBC:
    “Leno said inspiration for the bill came from a 2011 state appellate court case in which a young girl had two mothers. When one of the mothers was sent to prison and the other was hospitalized, the girl’s biological father wished to care for her.

    The court, however, ruled the biological father could not be a legal guardian because of California’s current law allowing only two parents per child.

    The state took custody of the child.”

    Seems the natural father would be an obviously better parent than the state.

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