In a story that drives home just how much power the judiciary wields, a judge in Oregon has issued a ruling on the intellectual fitness of two parents to raise their own children.
The Associated Press reports (via the Washington Times) that Deschutes County Judge Bethany Flint has ruled in favor of Redmond couple Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler, returning to them their 4-year-old son. Three weeks earlier, Flint had ordered the couple’s 10-month-old boy returned to them as well.
At issue is the fact that Fabbrini has an IQ of 72 and Ziegler’s 66, notably below the average IQ of 90-110. Based on their low intelligence, Fabbrini’s family challenged their competence to raise small children before the state Department of Human Services, resulting in the boys spending most of their lives in foster care.
The curious thing, however, is that according to the AP, “No abuse had been alleged.” In November, Inside Edition reported that state intervention began when an acquaintance of the couple “said Ziegler had been lying on the floor with the newborn and almost rolled onto the baby,” and further complained he had not been attentive enough. A caseworker subsequently determined the parents were, Inside Edition’s Deborah Hastings paraphrases, “ill-prepared, both intellectually and in terms of having baby supplies and furniture, to care for an infant.”
In response, Fabbrini and Ziegler have “taken parenting, nutrition and CPR classes in attempts to prove their fitness,” the AP adds. The judge ultimately ruled that too little evidence that they were unfit parents had been shown to justify taking their kids away from them.
Back in November, the couple spoke out on their ordeal to Inside Edition:
“I don’t think that IQ has anything to do with raising your kids,” Amy Fabbrini told InsideEdition.com. “The only thing that should matter… is that you love them, you’re able to support them and that you’re just there for them and their needs.
“And I can do that.”
Fabbrini and Ziegler both have high school diplomas, but Ziegler acknowledges he is a slow learner and receives disability benefits for an ADD-related problem. He currently works nights as a janitor […]
Last year, in an event the couple and their advocate find more than ironic, Ziegler was picked for jury duty in a housing dispute case, they said.
He served the entire four-day trial.
“So he’s capable of deciding somebody else’s fate, and yet he can’t even raise his own child? It’s just completely sad, actually, and ridiculous,” said Sherrene Hagenbach, who supervised the couple’s court-approved visits with Christopher and now acts as the couple’s advocate.
Hagenbach maintains that “Eric and Amy have not been given a chance to be parents,” and further points out, “I’ve seen other children taken back to a trailer park after a parent has just been released from jail on drug charges.” She insists there was no actual hint of abuse or neglect in their parenting performance.
As of this writing, GoFundMe campaign titled “Bringing the Ziegler Boys Home!!” to help the family with their legal fees has raised $42,395 of a $200,000 goal.