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Too Dumb to be a Mum?

mf263_cropSurely, we’ve all come across people who we’ve thought maybe shouldn’t have been parents at all — I’m quite certain most people feel that way about me.  And we’ve all done really stupid things on occasion.  But are there people who shouldn’t be parents simple because they aren’t smart enough?  Social workers in Fife, Scotland seem to think so.  Which is why Kerry Robertson is on the run despite being 29 weeks pregnant.

Robertson and her fiance Mark McDougall were told that they would only have a short while to see the baby before it would be taken away and placed with foster parents.  So the couple left town.  “It was clear to Kerry and I that, although social workers recently appeared to backtrack, telling us they would not make any decision about our baby until he is born, the truth is they intend to take him away,” said McDougall.  “She is pregnant with her first baby so we don’t see how, before he is even here, social workers can say she won’t be a good parent.”

The fact that she’s only 17 (he’s 25) might have something to do with it, but the bigger issue is that Robertson has what the Daily Mail describes as “mild learning disabilities.”  The couple was also prevented from getting married after Fife Council wrote a letter of objection.  Still, what the couple has done — leaving town before the baby is born — was actually quite clever, according to a family law expert.

The Daily Mail quotes the expert as saying that “If Miss Robertson gave birth in Fife and then fled with the baby, after the local authority had got a care order, she would be liable for child abduction.  If she has her baby outside the jurisdiction of Fife council, they no longer have any power to take the child into care.”

I don’t know the extent of her challenges, nor do I have any idea what her full situation is, but it seems to me that, in general, it would be better to leave a child with the parent and provide plentiful training and oversight, rather than — at what must be similar or greater cost — put the child into foster care right from the start.  Perhaps that wouldn’t work in this case and perhaps it would, but it seems to me that that ought to be plan A in most cases.  What do you think?

Photo: jeltovski

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