In an excellent decision by a judge, Abbie Dorn, a mother of triplets who was paralyzed during child birth, was awarded visitation with her children. Ms. Dorn delivered two of her three children without incident. When her last child was being delivered, the doctor nicked her uterine lining, causing her to bleed excessively and suffer an apoxic stroke (due to a lack of oxygen to her brain). She was left unable to speak, walk, eat or generally care for herself, however, she can respond by blinking and is aware of what is going on around her. Ms. Dorn’s husband divorced her a year after this occurred and has prevented her from spending much time with her children. Visitation is further complicated by the fact that Mr. Dorn and the children reside in LA and Ms. Dorn is cared for by her parents in South Carolina. Mr. Dorn does not feel that spending time with their mother is in the best interest of the children.
It seems to me that there are 2 simultaneous things occurring: Abbie Dorn cannot mother in a traditional way, that’s true, yet she can still have a positive bond with her children. The bond is beneficial for both her children and for her. Certainly having her children in her life, and having that supported by others, is important for all of them. The children know that she is alive, and it’s important to their development that they are able to know her, regardless of her limitations. In fact, it may help her children be more tolerant of others and help them be more understanding of the limitations of others that many children never learn.
The flip side of this argument is the emotional toll it may take on the children to be with their mother. They are aware that she is not a traditional mom, and that she has disabilities. It is important that they are protected from feeling that they have to care for her in a way that they may not be able to do. They also need to be reassured that her disabilities are not their fault, as it is easy to see how they could place blame on themselves.
Overall, the situation is really difficult and challenging for everyone. Just because someone is disabled does not mean that they stop being a parent. She clearly needs help in the traditional parenting things, such as getting dressed, playing, setting ruled, etc. As long as the rules are the same in the grandmother’s home as the dad’s home, that shouldn’t really be a problem. Since the mother is alive, and, we can assume, wants to have interaction with her children, that bond should be supported.
It’s really wonderful that the judge in the case saw the benefit to this as well and ruled in Abbie Dorn’s favor.
What do you think? Should the children have time with their mother?
Here’s the clip from Saturday’s Early Show: