Quadriplegic Mom In Danger of Losing Her Son

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Chicago Tribune photo
Chicago Tribune photo

When Kaney O’Neill became a quadriplegic nine years ago, her first question was “Can I still have children?” But as reality set in, O’Neill wasn’t sure that she could do anything. Now 31, she has had to fight hard to earn the life she has, including being a mother. Read the first Chicago Tribune story about her here.

When O’Neill first became pregnant, everyone was concerned, not only about the pregnancy and delivery, but also about how she would care for the child. But O’Neill had faith that everything would work out. She has a full-time helper, a brother who lives in an apartment adjoining her house and a mother who helps on the weekends.

What she doesn’t have is a supportive partner. The father of her baby, who is now her ex-boyfriend, is suing for full custody, citing the reason that she’s an unfit mother.The case is bringing to the fore the prejudice against disabled people in our society. Read the most recent Chicago Tribune story here.

One lawyer, not affiliated with the case, expressed his concern that O’Neill would not be able to teach her child to write, paint or play ball. Excuse me? How many parents actually do those things, especially all by themselves? Assuming that the father will be involved in his son’s life, why can’t he pitch in with some of the things O’Neill can’t do?

I have one other question: Why didn’t O’Neill’s disability give her ex-boyfriend pause when he was having sex with her–and exposing her to the possibility of pregnancy? Isn’t it a little late and a lot disingenuous for him to be so concerned about her suitability as a mother now?

The case appears before a judge sometime this month. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

For more information, read this Motherlode article in the New York Times.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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