by Jeanne Sager
A teen mother who gave birth in her bathtub is being accused of abandoning her newborn baby in a dumpster, but in a surprising turn of events, it appears likely the young mom may end up getting custody of her son anyway. The little boy's story made headlines recently when a construction worker discovered the baby, with his umbilical cord still attached, in a plastic bag in the trash. The Good Samaritan has been credited with saving the little guy's life, and the mother has decided to name the child Carlos in his honor.
Yup, that's right, the mother still has rights to name her child. In fact, under Texas law, she still has a ton of rights ... regardless of the callous way in which cops say she abandoned the child.
According to a representative of Child Protective Services, the girl is the child's biological mother, and unless (or until) a court terminates her rights, she gets to vie for custody. In fact, TV station KHOU reports the young mom and her family have up to a year to prove they're fit to care for this child.
I'm not ... but I'm also raging mad.
Sure, the mom is just 16, and that has to be taken into account when considering what happened to this baby. She was likely a dumb, scared kid. Not to mention the girl claims she thought little Carlos was dead when she put him in the dumpster, which softens the cruelty of this move.
If I were the mother of a 16-year-old who gave birth, I'd probably want to step in and try to get custody of my flesh and blood.
And yet ... I can't say I'm not disturbed by a law that would grant custody to anyone who wrapped a newborn baby in a plastic bag and threw them out like yesterday's dinner. The thing is, this law is pretty general. It's not specific to immature teen moms. If I'm reading it right, ostensibly this could apply to a 37-year-old woman who did the same thing.
Surely that would be outrageous, wouldn't it? We wouldn't be saying, aww, she's just a kid ... we'd be out for blood, and rightfully so.
If wrapping a living, breathing human being in a plastic bag and throwing them in the trash isn't enough to make you lose custody of your kid forever, I have to ask ... what is? How close do you have to take a child to the brink of death before you're cut off?
I'm not a perfect mom; no one is. But as a mother who tries her darndest to take good care of her kid, I'm disgusted by just how much the courts will let bad parents get away with. I recently had a chat with a lawyer who spends a lot of time in family court in New York State, and his assessment of what a court views as a "bad" parent was downright depressing. In his view, if you aren't shooting heroin EVERY DAY, basically you're A-OK in the court's eyes.
Putting kids back with parents is a priority. I get that. I'm also well aware that our foster system is teeming with kids who are in need of homes, and our social services system is overwhelmed. But that's not the kids' fault!
They deserve a little better, deserve laws that favor their well-being over anything.
Take the teenage mother out of this equation and ask yourself -- is a law that would give a mom a chance to get a baby back after this a little too generous to parents?
Or should every parent get a chance to prove themselves fit regardless of how bad the abuse and neglect?