Abbie Dorn is allowed to have five-day visits once a year for three hours each day at her parents’ home in South Carolina. Only Abbie, her triplets and their father, Dan Dorn, are allowed to be present during that time.
Judge Fredrick Shaller also ruled that Abbie may Skype with her children for 30 minutes on the first Sunday of each month in the interest of maintaining a parent/child relationship. The kids are also permitted to watch their mom receive music therapy, or their grandfather may read to them while she is in the room.
The ruling also requires Dan to display photos of Abbie in the children’s rooms at his home.
Abbie suffered severe brain damage in 2006 due to human error and equipment malfunction while giving birth to her triplets. She is unable to move or eat on her own.
Dan divorced Abbie the year following the birth of their children and had offered her parents the same annual visits that the judge granted. However, Abbie’s parents sought to have the triplets visit their mother three times a year without Dan present. The judge has decided, however, that Abbie’s mother tries to impose her belief on the children that she will recover, and unless Dan allows it, she and other extended family may not be present during their visits with Abbie.
Dan had sought to prohibit the children’s visits with Abbie until they were six or seven years old, fearing the sight of her would traumatize them too much. The triplets turn five in June. The judge rejected the delay, however, citing how Abbie had already outlived her life expectancy.
“The children need to have a relationship with their mother established before she dies,” the judge wrote in his decision. “The court finds that even though Abbie cannot interact with the children, the children can interact with Abbie — and that the interaction is beneficial for the children. They can touch her, see her, bond with her, and can carry these memories with them.”
“We’re very pleased, the judge definitely understood our decision and ruled what Mr. Dorn said was best for the children,” said Dan’s attorney to ABC News.
“We think that this is just the beginning, that their time with their mother will increase as they get older,” countered the attorney for Abbie’s parents, also to ABC News.
It’s so heartbreaking to me that it had to take a judge to tell Dan Dorn that his kids should be allowed to see their mom. Since the circumstances surrounding his decision to divorce his wife are not known to me, I can’t necessarily judge him for leaving Abbie so soon after her life changed forever while giving birth to their children.
But to say that their mother will traumatize them because of her condition? That smacks of prejudice, as if the sight of any disabled person is too horrible to bear. And if he allowed regular and consistent visits with her all along, their mother’s condition would be normal, because it would have been all that they know. If he were a good parent, he would have been explaining to them all along about their mother so there were never any surprises or “trauma.”
For the sake of the triplets, I hope they aren’t traumatized later on in life knowing how their father sought to erase their mother from their lives.
Do you agree with the judge’s ruling?