Another day, another story about a parent trying to murder her child and blaming the disability:
Kellie A. Waremburg, 32, of Pekin was charged Thursday for trying to kill her 4-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy, with a potentially lethal cocktail of medication. Waremburg told police she decided to give the mixture to her daughter to get her "to go to sleep and not wake up."
The child, Lexus Fuller, also has to be fed through a feeding tube, is physically handicapped and uses a wheelchair, has blindness and mental retardation, all of which can be related to cerebral palsy.
Although Waremburg's individual struggles with raising Lexus were not known Thursday or what was the exact reason behind the alleged attempt to kill the girl, her case is similar to that of Karen McCarron, the Morton woman who allegedly suffocated her 3-year-old autistic daughter, Katherine, and told police she "wanted to end her pain and Katie's pain."
There's lots of talk in the disability community about these recent murders (and attempted murders). And it's not just the murders themselves, but the fact that advocacy groups are using these murders as a way to talk about how difficult it can be to raise children with significant disabilities in modern societies that offer little in the way of actual family support.
Now first of all, there isn't any excuse to murder your child.
But I don't think this is really what the groups who are speaking up are trying to say. I think they are just responding to questions along the line of: "Excuse me, Mr. Advocacy Organization Representative: is it REALLY that difficult to raise a kid with autism? With cerebral palsy? With whatever condition includes severe or profound cognitive impairment, Etc?" To which Mr. Representative responds, "Yes. Yes, it is difficult".
And then the reporter---and the rest of the non-disabled world---automatically responds, "Well, see? I don't blame the parent. They were really pushed to it".
No, they weren't. I've been a parent of such a child, and known and worked with other parents of kids with profoundly complex and difficult disabilities, for 16 years. I don't know anyone who has killed her kid.
And although the large majority are having rather ordinary lives, I've known some in deep despair. And still, they don't murder their children.
But how are parents of children with complex and challenging disorders supposed to reveal the truth of their lives, the difficulties that are real and challenging, without causing reporters (and society at large) to jump to the conclusion that murder is understandable?
I ask you.
And once the community in which these murders occurs is made known of the despair of some parents, what responsibility does it bear to try to assist?
Because if it's just about shocking front-page stories, if it's just evoking a "tsk-tsk" response from the community, and particularly if the mothers and fathers who kill get off easily on the basis of "sufficient suffering and punishment"...well, I fear for some other fragile children. I really do.