Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fat to determine custody or parental fitness?

I normally try not to post two "downers" in a row, but an article in the Canadian National Post on Monday is already old enough that I don't want to pass it up.

"The societal panic over childhood obesity, already entrenched in the medical system and evident in the furor over school lunches, is beginning to influence custody judgments and child-welfare authorities in their decisions about fitness to parent."

A lot of us are familiar with the cases in California in recent years, where a young girl was taken from her mother because she was too fat. In those cases, NAAFA helped advocate for the parents in getting their child returned. In the meantime, apparently, Canada has been busily establishing legal precedents to allow the weight of both child and parent to figure into determinations of parental fitness in custody and adoption battles.

The article mentions an ongoing case in Toronto (the reporter isn't allowed to release details until the case is resolved) where a young girl was removed from her home because the child was fat, and the mother refused to force the girl to diet.

It goes into more detail concerning a pair of fat twins in a custody battle which raged over 8 years. The twins, now 10, have spent nearly their entire lives in hospital-based weight-loss programs. Can you imagine sacrificing a child's entire developmental period to dieting?

That particular case, at least had a mixed happy ending:

The mother, Lisa, argued against the father gaining full custody, saying that his approach to parenting was "his continuous attendances with the children on numerous medical reviews, weigh-ins and the administering of blood tests; combined with his continuous negative references to others and directly to the children that they are overweight, not normal and are ill and in danger of developing certain conditions or diseases."

In the end, the court determined that primary custody should go to the mother, where the children seemed most happy and well-adjusted, while conceding "the weight-management of the children was a problem that needed addressing."

In other words, we haven't seen the last of fat, in either adult or child, as a determining factor in parental fitness and rights. The Ontario Family Court is still deciding whether a child can be removed altogether from her natural parents simply for being fat.


TanteTerri said...

Could you just puke? These poor kids have been on a hospital-managed weight loss program for years and they ARE STILL FAT. Hello? Can we all say together "DIETS DON'T WORK".

Why isn't the court hauling in the hospital since the kids' diets are under the hospital's management, obviously it is their fault the kids are fat!

On an up note, a judge back East ruled that a child should never have been removed from his/her (sorry, i just don't remember) home because of being fat. Unfortunately, this was with the proviso that the mother was already doing everything she could regarding the child's weight.

How about just saying the child is eating healthy, getting some exercise and so mom is doing a good job? (And what color would the sky be on that planet?)

Breanna said...

I think this is one of them touchy ones. I know someone who weights about 400lbs right now if not more. She is in her very early 20's. When she was 13 she was so overweight she couldn't put her arms down to her sides even. It was really sad. AT thirteen she had breathing problems because she was so over weight. I used to get pissed off at her mom because all she had in the house for this child was junk. And I mean junk. ice cream. ho ho's etc. The girl never at veggies because she didn't like them and didn't want to so her mom would just let her eat anything she wanted. Now in her early 20's she can't really leave her house because of this. she has lots of medical issues because she can't move around much and she is on Disability because she is fat. So I do think that parents have some responsibility in this. Now there is a difference between and overweight and an obese child. This girl is by far obese. I don't think each time a child is a little over weight that they should have their kids taken away. I think its more than just eating habits. I think you have to look at the big picture. This person I'm talking about was just a neglectful parent and let her child eat anything she wanted. The girl would even get up in the middle of the night and eat a gallon of ice cream. I'm not kidding either. it was so fricken sad. it still makes me sad and angry at her mother when I see her. So I think you always have to look at the over all picture of how a parent is raising a child. Not just how the kid eats. That's my 2 cents on that.