State of Oregon Removes Children From Home, Citing Parents' Low IQ

Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler have had two children together, but both their sons were taken from them by the state of Oregon before they had a chance to act as parents. The reason: each of the parents’ IQ tests have shown “mild intellectual disability.”

The Oregonian reports that their first child, Christopher, was put in foster care just days after his birth because Fabbrini and Ziegler had “limited cognitive abilities that interfere with (their) ability to safely parent the child,” according to court papers. Ziegler’s IQ is 66, and Fabbrini’s is 72; the latter has twins from a previous relationship, who she was raising with the help of her father when Christopher was born. The birth of a new child was a surprise, as Fabbrini didn’t realize she was pregnant.

Her father, Raymond Fabbrini, has sided with welfare workers, calling Amy Fabbrini lazy and saying he doesn’t believe she or Ziegler are capable of parenting. “She got me mad so many times. She wouldn’t do nothing,” he told The Oregonian.


Their second child, Hunter, was expected and born in a hospital, but the state placed him in foster care before they could bring him home. They’ve been able to have supervised visits with their kids, and at least one person who observed their visitations said she thought they were capable of raising them. Still, Sherrene Hagenbach told The Oregonian that when she advocated for them to caseworkers, she was told her volunteer services were no longer needed:

“They’re saying that this foster care provider is better for the child because she can provide more financially, provide better education, things like that,” Hagenbach said. “If we’re going to get on that train, Bill Gates should take my children. There’s always somebody better than us, so it’s a very dangerous position to be in.”

Susan Yuan, the president of an organization that assesses parents with intellectual disabilities, says that most case workers have very little experience working with parents who have lower IQs like Fabbrini and Ziegler, and err on the side of safety for the child. A national study indicates that between 40 and 80 percent of parents with mental disabilities have their children removed from the home. In Yuan’s opinion, case workers need more education about and exposure to people with disabilities.

“Research literature has found that the IQ really doesn’t correlate with parenting until the IQ is below 50,” she said. “A parent of any IQ, a parent with a 150 IQ, can be a bad parent. ... I would say that if the child can be safe and loved in their own family, that this is appropriate parenting and you can put other opportunities in place.”


Read the full Oregonian report here.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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This is so sad. There is a way to set up a system where someone comes to the house once in a while and checks to make sure that everything’s OK, or to help if they need support. How could you just take away someone’s kids? Very few people are better off in foster care. The foster care system, at least in NY, is broken and needs some serious overhaul.

ETA: I am talking about NY because I have some experience with the foster care system there. I don’t know much about Oregon’s foster care.