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Judge Overrules State’s Seizure of Child from Couple It Deemed Not Smart Enough to Be Parents

Low I.Q. used as a justification for taking boy away, even absent any evidence of abuse or neglect.

Amy Fabbrini and Eric ZieglerOregonian videoA holiday happiness story to share: The Oregon couple who had their two children taken away because the state determined they weren't smart enough to be parents has gotten one of them back.

As I highlighted in July, Oregon's Department of Health Services put Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler's boys—one 4 years old and one now 10 months old—in foster homes, not because the parents were abusing or neglecting their kids, but because the state determined that they would be poor parents due to their hampered cognitive skills.

Fabbrini and Ziegler both have I.Q.s well below average—66 and 72—and their learning struggles were used as justification to take the children away as a preventative measure rather than as a response to actual harm the children had suffered.

Right before Christmas, a judge ruled the couple's limited cognitive ability was not enough to declare them unfit parents for their youngest son, Hunter, who was taken from them right after birth. He ordered the child returned to them.

As I previously observed, when the Department of Health Services argued that the children should be removed, they presented every common parenting mistake, due to the parents' disabilities, as a potential crisis. The state declared as "parenting deficiencies" things like not washing thoroughly after using the bathroom, not applying sunscreen sufficiently to their child, or giving the child chicken nuggets to eat instead of something healthier.

Circuit Judge Bethany Flint took note, when ordering Hunter returned, that these did not appear to be sufficient reasons for the state government to intervene and take somebody's kids away and that "there's no allegation they're not able to meet [Hunter's] basic needs." Samantha Swindler of The Oregonian, who brought this case to light, was there for the latest decision:

"I will affectionately remember this case as the 'chicken nugget case,'" Flint said. "I found it difficult to read that these parents tried this thing and tried that thing and then they are advised that instead of chicken nuggets they should have boiled chicken breast, that giving fried foods is a parenting deficiency. That was hard to read."

At times, the state argued that Fabbrini and Ziegler asked too many questions, suggesting they didn't know how to parent. At other times, the state implied they didn't ask enough questions, trying to show they didn't understand their cognitive limitations.

"They can't win for losing," Flint said. "I think there's a lot of evidence in the record that whenever they do say things they are attacked for them, which could create a culture of silence around the parents as well."

Not for nothing was Reason's most popular story of the year about how our paranoia about potential harms to children are leading to really bad public policies. It's even worse for parents with disabilities, physical or cognitive. In many states it is perfectly legal to use an adult's disabilities as a justification for terminating parental rights, even in absence of abuse or neglect.

The fight isn't over for the couple. Their other son, Christopher, has some developmental problems, and Flint isn't sure Fabbrini and Ziegler understand that the boy needs more than typical parental TLC. The couple's fight to get Christopher back will continue into January.

Still, given a year of outrage-inducing tales of abuse by government officials, it's nice to head into 2018 with at least one piece of good news.

Photo Credit: Maren Winter / Dreamstime.com

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  • Kivlor||

    Fabbrini and Ziegler both have I.Q.s well below average—66 and 72—and their learning struggles were used as justification to take the children away as a preventative measure rather than as a response to actual harm the children had suffered.

    You know, the progressives pushing this policy should really think hard about it. By saying that some couple with lower IQs than normal should have their kids taken away, they are basically arguing for the forced removal of a large portion of the black population's kids from their homes. And a not small portion of the Hispanic community's too.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Jesus.

  • Kivlor||

    Hey, I'm opposed to doing this. Just pointing out the disparate impact it will have on the left's favorite communities.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Oh good, it's gonna be one of those threads.

  • Kivlor||

    I know, we can't admit to reality. Evolution ends below the neck.

    I'm pointing out a disparate impact that most leftists who are almost assuredly the people behind this policy in Washington would normally freak out about. Many of them will resist the call to liberty, but they're big on race and you just might have a shot at getting the policy you want by pointing out it is going to be catastrophic to their beloved minorities.

  • Kivlor||

    **above the neck

  • Sevo||

    "Evolution ends below the neck."
    Kivlor wrote that. He actually did.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Whether he meant above or below the neck, the sentiment is dumb and completely incorrect.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    He suffers from caveman dick, Sevo - show some compassion.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I think he is accusing progressives of believing that evolution ends below the neck.

    My own experience with academics actually reinforces this observation. There is a serious cognitive dissonance in believing that there are genetic underpinnings to observed variations in behavior, but NOT INTELLIGENCE. We can't admit that there might be different distributions of intelligence within different populations. We have to insist that every observed difference is the result of environment.

    Unless we are observing that Japanese people are smarter and live longer than European whites. For some reason that is ok.

    Heaven forbid we consider the possibility that both nature and nuture play a role.

    This is why I am torn by this example. Is the older kid really "delayed" or just the inevitable outcome of two stupid people breeding? Should we just accept that these parents will have stupid kids and therefore leave them the fuck alone? Or does the kid have a real disability that needs more much active parenting than these people can provide? Will he get that parenting in a foster home? That is a dubious assumption.

    Honestly, unless there is a "smart" aunt who is willing to dedicate a large portion of her life to helping this child, there is no point in taking him away.

    Source: Have a kid who needs a lot of help.

  • Kivlor||

    I was too busy to reply until today.

    Basically my point was that in Oregon it is almost certainly a progressive reasoning that led to this. In my state I'd be criticizing the Republicans, and their own flawed reasoning if this happened.

    In this particular situation, the progressives are more easily swayed by things like "disparate impact on minorities". And this will have a tremendous disparate impact on many minority communities. Maybe if they recognize that, they'll be willing to back off.

  • ||

    leftists who are almost assuredly the people behind this policy
    Circuit Judge Bethany Flint took note, when ordering Hunter returned, that these did not appear to be sufficient reasons for the state government to intervene

    Bethany Flint was appointed by Kate Brown, Progressive Democrat.

    But please - don't let me interrupt the racist/partisan fever dreams.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    You argue like a colored leftist.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I will go out on a limb and suggest that there are no republicans working for the Oregon CPS.

    Republicans would be insisting that this child be home schooled.

  • Jay Dubya||

    I will go out on a limb & assume that there is a picture of you is somewhere on "People of Walmart"

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Oregon, not Washington.

  • Jury Nullification||

    Somebody has been reading, "The Bell Curve."

    Remember, only white men who cannot jump are victims of evolution. There are no evolutionary deficiencies/differences for anyone else.

  • Vernon Depner||

    And remember, Blacks are owed reparations and affirmative actions because they suffer the lingering effects of slavery, however, Blacks are functionally equal to Whites in every way and do not suffer any lingering effects of slavery.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Those people, am I right?

  • Bubba Jones||

    That's a false dichotomy.

    One is arguing innate ability, the other is arguing structural opportunity.

  • Vernon Depner||

    But many Americans argue that equal opportunity is insufficient, arguing instead for reparations and preferences.

  • Tony||

    There are black people who are smarter than you. Way smarter. Everyone has different abilities or strokes of luck. But perhaps you slept through the 20th century when we tried treating races differently en masse based on pseudo-scientific assumptions that just so happened to always flatter the white protestants dreaming them up. Pretty much every experiment along those lines is considered, like, the worst thing we've ever done as a species.

  • Vernon Depner||

    So, you're opposed to affirmative action and reparations?

  • Tony||

    Depends, how long will people like you whine like little baby girls over the prospect of the tiniest amount of perceived injustice when you're the victim while treating centuries of slavery and apartheid as something one gets over with a hearty tugging of bootstraps?

  • Vernon Depner||

    I've never met anyone who has suffered centuries of slavery. I guess people live a lot longer in your neighborhood. The idea that racial equality can be achieved by people no longer complaining about injustices is certainly a novel approach.

  • Tony||

    I've never met anyone who suffered from affirmative action, have you?

  • Vernon Depner||

    Yes.

  • Bubba Jones||

    It depends on where you are in the bell curve.

    Given than there are roughly 4-5x as many whites as blacks in the US (ignoring hispanics for this illustration) then a normal distribution of both races will leave both ends of the curve dominated by whites. Simply based on the gross numbers.

    In other words, for the dumbest white, you would expect all blacks to be smarter. For the smartest white, you would expect all blacks to be dumber.

    If the median has a ratio of 5 whites for every 1 black, then as you get near the top 5% of the population, you would expect a ratio of perhaps 20:1. (I pulled that number out of my ass because I don't feel like looking it up).

    To get into Harvard, you need an SAT score in the top 1%. So, the expected ratio might be 100:1 just by virtue of the size of the populations, assuming an IDENTICAL distribution for blacks and whites (not counting Asians!).

  • Bubba Jones||

    Ok. Dug up the normal distribution tables and perhaps the ratio between black and white should be the same at all value, if and only if both populations have the same mean and standard deviation.

    If, however, there is a difference in mean such that blacks are lower than whites (e.g. SAT scores), then you will see a large discrepancy at the right end of the distribution. And at the left end as well...

    http://reports.collegeboard.or.....17-results

  • Kivlor||

    Tony, I readily admit that there are black people who would run circles around me all day. The statement is about general populations, and that statement is a lot more meaningful when we are discussing policies that will affect large numbers of people.

    There's going to be a lot of white people who will be persecuted under this policy if it were allowed to become the norm. Probably a lot more white ones than blacks. But the percent of the overall black population that will suffer under it will be a lot higher than the percentage of whites. Which would create a disparate impact on that community.

  • Curly4||

    But just think if they could do this and take it a step further and sterilize the adults to low an IQ before they had children would lower the future number of persons that will wind up on entitlements.

  • Tony||

    This article hits a little close to home, huh?

  • rudehost||

    Not so much for the rest of us but I can see why you might be alarmed.

  • ||

    He's worried that the state is going to start seizing inbred hillbilly kids from Trump country are send them to the cities to be educated in liberal indoctrination camps.

  • ||

    He's worried that the state is going to start seizing inbred hillbilly kids from Trump country are send them to the cities to be educated in liberal indoctrination camps.

  • ||

    And a large portion of hillbilly redneck children. What will that do to the next generation of Trump voters?
    Cultural genocide!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    We so often focus on the grand atrocities of the state: war, violent suppression of dissent, police murdering people.

    Here we see the petty cruelties of a system that knows what's best. These are truly the biggest dangers of an active modern government. Removing what individuals hold most dear. The things that most make us human. All in the name of knowing what's best. All in the name of helping.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    A good state would have made sure those babies were aborted.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    A good state would have made sure those parents were sterilized.

  • croaker||

    "Three generations of idiots are enough." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • Vernon Depner||

    A good state would have made sure their grandparents were deported.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    All of modern governance in this country is to some extent (and regardless of party) based on the capital-p Progressive tenet that government exists to make people better. Starting from there, it's never very far to eugenics, in one form or another.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    One of my favorite quotes is from Karl Hess and goes like this (paraphrasing):

    If you argue in favor of big government, sooner or later you end up being an apologist for mass murder.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    One of my favorites is a similar one from Gustave de Molinari: "Anarchy is no guarantee that some people won't kill, injure, kidnap, defraud, or steal from others. Government is a guarantee that some will."

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    You just went up a notch in my book for quoting Molinari. Molinari is Bastiat evolved to a higher level.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Molinari was the executor of Bastiat's estate, if i remember correctly. And he was dropping fresh, hot knowledge on fools back when the U.S. hadn't even fought a civil war yet.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The scariest thing is you see many whose entire argument against eugenics is not that there is any moral issue, but simply that genetics aren't good predictors of abilities. Not that it is wrong in some moral sense, but that it is purely wrong in an engineering sense.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Well said, BUCS. For fuck's sake, where is the compassion? If these folks are having trouble raising their kids, which has not even been established, how about sending someone to give them some non-invasive help? Surely the community can find someone to volunteer a little time that can do it without being an asshole and making this couple feel bad or inadequate?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    If you thought you were a good parent and just had a dumb kid, would you take kindly to someone constantly telling you that you were doing it wrong? Even in a kindly manner?

  • Jury Nullification||

    "...would you take kindly to someone constantly telling you that you were doing it wrong?"

    Someone best act like it if they want to keep their kids. And all the world a stage. Mastering submission and remorse are useful skills to navigate the court system. Warning: Submission to state tyranny and forced exhibition of insincere remorse may be dangerous to one's health unless one is predisposed to subservience and accepting of authoritarianism.

    It takes a village....with willing cocksuckers ready to pick up a torch to scorch you because they care.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Better people, know what is good for riff-raff!

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I think this couple has a great future on Raised By Retards, coming soon to the Hallmark channel.

    But seriously, if their kids do end up dead I don't want to hear anyone arguing that the court should be lenient because the parents are retarded.

  • Kivlor||

    I certainly wouldn't argue that. Being low IQ shouldn't exempt people from the law. If they're abusive, or neglectful then perhaps the state should take the kids from them and charge them criminally. And if they kill the kids they should face the same charges any normal person would.

  • Hank Phillips||

    These are ideal Republicans, as spelled out by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes' comment from Buck v. Bell was quoted by defense counsel at the Nuremberg trials as an apologia for Christian National Socialist eugenics programs. Judy Garland, William Shatner and Marlene Dietrich were in the movie version.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    You are dumb and if you had any sense you'd feel bad about it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Are you crossing your fingers hoping that these children die just so you can be right that people can't be trusted?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Nope. I hope the entire family, including both kids, has a long happy life together.

  • Ron||

    Who in America hasn't feed their kid chicken nuggets or sometimes failed to clean their hands. Any excuse is not a good excuse

  • Sevo||

    "the state determined they weren't smart enough to be parents"

    Kettle, pot?

  • Kivlor||

    At times, the state argued that Fabbrini and Ziegler asked too many questions, suggesting they didn't know how to parent. At other times, the state implied they didn't ask enough questions, trying to show they didn't understand their cognitive limitations.

    "They can't win for losing," Flint said. "I think there's a lot of evidence in the record that whenever they do say things they are attacked for them, which could create a culture of silence around the parents as well."

    This is horrifying, but to be expected. The state has singled you out for persecution, and they are going to make sure you suffer. The dangers of sophists infecting the justice system are on full display here. Someone who is low IQ is going to be at the mercy of the state most of the time that this happens. Low IQ people aren't going to be sophisticated enough to fight in this arena--hell most higher IQ ones probably aren't--and we can add the finance situation (IQ is heavily correlated with income). These people are hobbled before it even begins.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime."

    - Lavrentiy Beria, head of Joseph Stalin's secret police

    Once you are in the cross hairs of the state, you are fucked. Period. Regardless of IQ or income. Unless you know people, or are really fucking lucky, your life is guaranteed to be miserable for a long time.

    Especially if there are children involved. Because no one is perfect, and the state's standard is perfection.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [Shows Crusty]

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Guilty of First Degree Fuckableness.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    "Oh my God" - Lavrentiy Beria

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Just as long as they can still vote, I don't see the problem.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    May be we granted access to the IQs of Oregon's Department of Health Services employees?

    Thank you.

  • croaker||

    Remember to take the average IQ of the group and divide by the number in that group.

  • CE||

    So, still no kidnapping charges against the child-snatchers?

  • croaker||

    Sovereign Immunity. Which does not protect against Rule 308.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    If I take my pal's pay is that good enough?

  • Karl Hungus||

    At times, the state argued that Fabbrini and Ziegler asked too many questions, suggesting they didn't know how to parent. At other times, the state implied they didn't ask enough questions, trying to show they didn't understand their cognitive limitations.

    When the state has decided to kidnap your children, there are no right answers, no amends you can make, no areas in which you can improve. The decision had already been made, the court hearings were just rigmarole.

  • Curly4||

    If the state is going to take away a child because the parents's IQ is to low then let the state pass a law to that extent. The law, however, should go farther than just taking the children it should also prevent the parents from even conceiving a child in the first place. I know this would cause an upheaval in the constitution law area but if a state can take a child just because the parents have a low IQ the state should be able to require sterilization of the adults with low IQ also. This would reduce the demand on the welfare (entitlements) of each state and maybe even the federal government entitlements as well.

  • croaker||

    This was tried once. Reparations had to be paid.

  • Azathoth!!||

    No kids for low IQ individuals?

    I thought you lefties had given up on your sterilization programs.

    Looks like Eugenic Progressivism is alive and well.

    As the notorious RBG noted--this will go far in reducing "populations that we don't want to have too many of".

  • Atlas Slugged||

    Fabbrini and Ziegler both have I.Q.s well below average—66 and 72—and their learning struggles were used as justification to take the children away as a preventative measure rather than as a response to actual harm the children had suffered.

    Shackford, don't use preventative. The verb "preventate" doesn't exist.

    /public health pendant

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Did you know what he meant? You clearly did. So stop being so prescriptive about language. He can use "preventate" if he wants.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    And if you turn the word decision into a verb I will mock you incessantly. The same goes for solution.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Solutate?

  • hackajar||

    How did the state stumble across this couple in the first place?

  • Eidde||

    It's not like they tried to give their kid a sex-change operation or anything weird like that.

  • NoVaNick||

    Well educated and well off parents are much more likely to have kids with autism or behavioral problems like adhd because they have kids much later and there is more time for mutations to accumulate in their sperm and egg. Some of them also tend t be completely clueless as parents (someone in my family, for example didn't want her son to wash his hands in order to boost his immune system-didn't want to vaccinate either). Yet you never hear of cps snatching their kids because they are well connected and can afford to send their kids to special schools.

    What happened in Oregon is a class thing more than anything else.

  • tommhan||

    How many people of low intellect have children? Probably quite a few and does anyone actually think Social Services would do a better job than a loving parent that will probably make some mistakes? Will we all be required in the future to take an IQ test if we want to keep our children?

  • IceTrey||

    The median IQ if 100 isn't smart at all.

  • Tionico||

    well, I know of public schools that serve chicken nuggets to their students as part of their school lunches.

    As to washing hands after using the toilet.. debatable. this insane fettish with "clean" is a mental disease.

    As to sunscreen? In Oregon, the pinnacle of health consciousness? Get real.. most brands of that stuff are known to have deleterious health effects. Besides, exposing skin to the sun is healthy. Vitamin D production, other good stuff. Most sunscreens out there today have specific health hazards far more threatening than any effects of NOT using the stuff. Unless, of course, some kid is kept indoors almost all the time then gets taken to the beach to run half naked on the sand all day. Of COURSE he'll come back looking like a lobster. But when is the last time a parent had their kid stolen because they took that kid to the doc with a bad case of sunburn? And we have no evidence these kids ever GOT sunburn or how.
    Stupid gummit nannies, sticking their oversized pinocchio schnozzes into someone else's bidniss.

  • Vernon Depner||

    "But when is the last time a parent had their kid stolen because they took that kid to the doc with a bad case of sunburn?"

    I would be amazed if that hasn't happened.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....burnt.html

  • IceTrey||

    I want to be a nice person but everyone is just so stupid.

  • RonBPalmer||

    These kinds of attacks are used daily in thousands of family courts all over this country. These parents were protected by the courts because they are married to each other. If you are not married to the other parent, you receive none of these protections and all of the tactics discussed here and many more are used against parents to take their children from them.

    Divorce courts are the Jim Crow enforcers of our time. Their practices are actively discriminatory and callous. Judges who are supposed to be our constitutional protectors are turned into our attackers.

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