For the past couple of weeks I've been following the story of Lynn Cameron, a nineteen year old whose mother "lost" her in Tennessee. For about two weeks, Lynn was unidentified - she has cerebral palsy and doesn't speak. Once her mother, Eva Cameron, was tracked down in Illinois, she returned to Tennessee only to confirm that Lynn was her daughter. She did not take her home.
Since Lynn is considered an adult in Tennessee, no charges could be brought up against her mother. Lynn is now a ward of the state and living in a group home for people with developmental disabilities.
There is much conflict in the mother's story. She's claimed she stopped for a restroom break at a place she didn't realize was a bar and somehow "lost" Lynn. Rather than notify the authorities, she went back to Illinois. Another story she is telling is that she acted on the advice of a church friend. The one shining truth she's admitted to is that she is overwhelmed caring for Lynn and another special needs child she has. So now it's upon the good people of Tennessee to care for their new citizen. Tennessee legislators are scrambling to enact legislation to prevent more "drop-offs."
Here's the can of gummy worms I find with this story. People expect "the government" to take care of those with disabilities, especially those with severe handicaps. The level of care varies from state to state. The level of family involvement varies from family to family. Some have a strong network of family and friends that supports them in caring for a child with special needs. Apparently, Lynn Cameron didn't have such a personal safety net. Her mother felt she wasn't getting any support and was tired of hearing she didn't qualify for government assistance.
I'm wondering why Lynn's mother didn't get support from her church. Do churches only help people when they're getting government assistance to fund the efforts? Why did no one offer to help her keep her family together or even supervise Lynn and her sibling so their mother could take a break and go to a movie or have an afternoon without the demands of being a caregiver?
I wonder too why people are happy to let "the government" take care of the handicapped but raise new flavors of hell if it's suggested that the government step in and regulate and give access to care of its "normal" citizens. Everyone on Medicaid is suspected of using fraudulent means to secure health care. Though Medicare has proven to be a positive step with much user satisfaction, some say it should be dismantled because it's just letting "the government" control an aspect of private life. Yet when it comes to unwanted, handicapped kids and adults, "the government" should just take care of them.
A nurse related to me a few months ago how angry it made her to see parents with the means to care for a severely handicapped child to rely on government assistance. As an in-home care provider, she's seen parents hoard medical supplies and services because they can, not because they need. They spend as little as possible to take care of their special needs children figuring it's "the government's" job. One family she worked for wouldn't even buy toys for their special needs child - that was up to "the government."
Where do we draw a line? The state of Illinois drew a line and lead the nation in cutting services and facilities for mentally and physically disabled people. The result was one burnt out mother took drastic measures to find some relief for herself. I don't agree with what she did, but I think I understand what drove her to do what she did. She may have remorse. She may not. She probably won't get any help to sort out her issues in Illinois unless she can take personal responsibility and pay for it herself.