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State's High Court To Decide If Mom Can Regain Custody Of Son, 3
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 21, 2006

JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI--The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments on December 13 to decide whether a woman with mental and physical disabilities can regain custody of her 3-year-old son, who also has physical disabilities.

Authorities took Angela Williams' son, identified in court records as "C.W.", from her in June 2003 when he was just three days old. Child protective services had determined that the infant, who was born with a cleft palate and unnamed health problems, needed special feeding and treatment. They also determined that Williams, who has bipolar disorder and cerebral palsy, was unable to take care of the child.

Williams says that she has since sought treatment for her mental illness, has completed parenting classes, and is now ready and able to take care of her son.

Social services officials argue that she has not 'bonded' with the boy during supervised visits, among other things.

In briefs to the court, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri noted that the parental rights of many people with disabilities are often revoked improperly because of negative stereotypes. The groups argued that services should have been provided to support Williams in her parenting efforts, and that the court should look at Williams' current ability to parent the boy rather than out-dated assessments.

A decision is not expected for several weeks, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"Mental health is at crux of parental rights case" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


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