Agency takes Iowa baby from parents
Associated Press | October 24, 2005
The Woodbury County Department of Human Services has taken a 2-month-old boy away from his parents because they are mentally disabled.
Byron Martin-Stoddard, 20, and his wife, Rosada Martin-Stoddard, 18, along with his parents, Douglas and Vickie Stoddard, say they will appeal the decision using the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The family claims they are being discriminated against by DHS and are upset that the word "retarded" was used in a DHS report.
The report, released by Douglas Stoddard, says "Both Rosada and Byron are mildly mentally retarded."
The National Organization on Disability objects to the term "retarded" and states on its Web site that the term is "simply not acceptable in the 21st century."
Officials with the Woodbury County Department of Human Services declined comment.
The family was granted visitation with the child during a hearing last Thursday, and the boy's parents will receive parenting classes.
The DHS report also says that Douglas Stoddard is "mentally challenged," a claim he says is unfounded.
"God put us all on this earth the way he wanted us," Douglas Stoddard said. "I know there's a lot of false accusations about me. In these papers they say that I'm mentally retarded. I've got two years of college in nursing."
Vickie Stoddard, a home health care aide through a program organized by DHS, said the department didn't give Rosada and Byron a "fair chance" with their son.
"These kids were doing excellent with the baby," she said. "You should've seen them with their child. It would break your heart. They loved the child."
A caseworker said in the report that the child, named Cody, was at risk of being abused, neglected or inadequately supervised because of his parents' mental condition.
The report shows that hospital officials and doctors referred the baby to the Department of Public Health two days after his birth because of concerns about his parents' ability to care for him.
A public health nurse conducted regular visits to the home and on Oct. 11 wrote to DHS with concerns about the parents' ability to care for the child. Two days later DHS workers removed the baby from the home.
Vickie Stoddard said the DHS report only listed a dirty diaper and dirt under the child's fingernails.
"He was healthy," she said. "There were no bruises on him."
She also disputed DHS claims that her son wasn't concerned for Cody.
"After everyone left, Byron went in the apartment and he got one of Cody's little receiving blankets and broke down and cried," she said. "Just because he didn't cry right there in front of everybody does not mean he doesn't love that child."
Vickie Stoddard said the family doesn't know where Cody is being cared for.
"We're worried sick about him," she said.
Rosada Martin-Stoddard doesn't understand why her son was taken away.
"I think it's terrible," she said. "I think it's really terrible because they don't even give us a chance to raise our son."
Last modified October 25, 2005