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Teenaged Son Surrendered
October 5, 2014 permalink
A Guelph Ontario family has been compelled to surrender custody of their teenaged son as the only way to get treatment for his problems. The boy is now a crown ward. To add insult to injury, the parents cannot tell their story in public because mentioning their own names would identify their son.
Ontario ombudsman André Marin issued a report Between a Rock and a Hard Place in 2005 detailing the dilemma of parents compelled to relinquish custody of their children to get special treatment. In nine years, the child protection system has not corrected the problem. When children with special needs do come under state control, they sometimes get no special care, but neglectful care delivered at high cost to the taxpayers. Samantha Martin was surrendered by her mother as a newborn and returned at age 13, so maltreated in care that she died a few months later.
Guelph couple surrender son to state for FASD services
The parents of two children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder say they had to give up parental rights to their 14-year-old son because the government would not support the boy's special needs.
The Guelph couple cannot be named, as doing so would identify their youngest son, who is now a Crown ward.
The boy's mother says she and her husband adopted their son when he was three-weeks-old and found out that he had FASD when he was a toddler.
"We thought that we would get help," she recalls. "We thought that once we could show everybody that there was an actual, legitimate problem, that services would be here to help us."
Instead, she says service agencies told the couple that their son's diagnosis did not qualify him for provincial supports.
Parents say life became unbearable
As the boy grew older, his parents say he became more volatile and prone to violent outbursts.
"He would flip his dresser just like a piece of paper," the boy's father said. "I don't know how he could, but I guess his adrenaline would kick in and give him an amazing amount of strength."
Things got so bad that the couple says they had their home booby trapped, so that they would know where their son was in the house.
"You love them to pieces, but sometimes their behaviours made you kind of hate them at the same time," says the boy's father, adding that life had become almost unbearable for him and his wife.
Desperate for help, the boy's parents went to their local Children's Aid Society, but were told, once again, that their son didn't qualify for provincial supports.
"They bluntly told us that there's really no help out there for us unless he became a crown ward," says the boys mother. So, on March 4, 2014, the couple went to court and surrendered their 14-year-old son to the state.
"It was almost like experiencing a death," says the boy's mother. "There was such a sense of loss, because you don't become a parent thinking that you're going to have to give up your child in order to get services."
After he became a Crown ward, the boy was placed with a foster family. His parents say he will soon be moved into a group home, which is what they were asking for all along.
Agency says families have no other options
Family and Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County cannot comment on specific cases in its jurisdiction; however, children's services director Sheila Markle says no family should have to give up custody of their child in order to get services.
"A family's need for resources and supports for their child is not a reason to involve child welfare, but the reality is that services and supports for some populations of kids--particularly kids with FASD--are not necessarily as robust as they need to be to help families cope."
Because there are not adequate services available for families who have children with FASD, Markle says parents are running out of options.
"If parents are saying they can't do it anymore, then sometimes we have to get involved."
Markle says that when a family gives up their parental rights to a child, it triggers a protection issue under the Child and Family Services Act, which allows children's welfare agencies to step in and care for the child.