Neglected and abused children of mentally retarded parents

Author: Seagull, A.A.W.;Scheurer, S.L.
Year: 1986
Reference Type: Journal Article
Journal/Book Title: Child Abuse and Neglect
Volume: 10
Pages: 493-500
Abstract: Sixty four neglected and abused children with a mentally retarded parent seen from one to seven years earlier, were followed to determine placement outcomes. At the time of follow-up, 11 of 64 children remained with their low functioning parents. Six children had been relinquished voluntarily for adoption and courts had terminated parental rights for 34, resulting in a total of 40 who had been adopted. Nine children were in foster care at the time of the study: two had been awarded to their non-retarded parent following divorce: and two had died. All families had received public assistance and medical care and used an average of 10 other services per family. Because of their cognitive limitations, most of these retarded parents were unable to benefit sufficiently from community services to enable them to care for their children. These findings point up the need for a mechanism whereby the retarded adult's right to parent and the child's right to nurturance and protection may both be preserved. Until this dilemma can be resolved, decisions to terminate parental rights in such cases should be made more quickly.

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