What Rights Does An "un-Fit" Mother Have

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“One of the most important single mothers right is the right to have custody of her child.” -Peter West.

Well put Peter West! It becomes a little difficult when proving that a mother is un-fit. I know that there are those who do not have the “mother instinct” or as some would put it “some should not even reproduce. But what happens when you have a difficult case where the alleged”un-fit mother” has potential to be a wonderful mother if given resources that will truly help, and the chance to be a “fit” (in the eyes of the dss agency) mother.

I believe that if the caseworkers, lawyers, child advocates, and other “professionals”are really for mother child reunification that would happen. It seems to me that in many cases I have heard about and even personally been through, revolving around this touchy subject of “un-fit” mothers, people see them just as that- “un-fit”. They do not see the person for who they are and who their friends and family know and believe them to be. They don’t see the potential of the accused of being a successful parent who will benefit from the resources that they qualify for but are unaware of. There are resources out there and they will continue to go un-noticed because the true outcome that many want to see is the adoption of children of “un-fit” parents to people who “can give the child a better life”. 

These case workers go into the situation with the worst case scenario judging because it is their first “perception of what they see that sticks in their head during the case. I have also learned that if a mother is diagnosed with a mental illness the will consider you as “un-fit”. Many disabled, willing, adults choose to have a family, and are very wonderful parents. Many conditions are treatable by medication, and therapy, and these parents go on to be great parents with successful lives and families.

In 1996 “best interest of the child” was adopted. The decision made was in the best interest of the child, where the biological parent was favored over the third party. Another standard that was adopted was that the decision made, proving a mother fit or un-fit had to be based on the present situation, not taking into consideration their past, nor could it be based on the fact that the parent relied on some type of support to raise her child/children.

When making decisions on wether or not a mother is fit the fact that it is thought that the child would “have a better life” or any type of “moral advantages” somewhere other than the biological mother. But in my opinion that is just not the reality of it. If there is no way to rehabilitate and reunify mother and child then you have not done your job using compassion, understanding, or empathy.

I do also realize that there are devastating effects on children that are raised in the homes of the “proven, by fact” un-fit parents. Usually it is because these mothers have been given a check list of what they need to do to have their children in their home, but since there are not many resources favoring these women they give up. I see it as the system that is supposed to be about mother, child reunification has failed these families.


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