Kelso case shows families of disabled need more support...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 08, 2000

Kelso case shows families of disabled need more support

Unfortunately, no one with a disabled child is surprised that parents might become overwhelmed enough to "abandon" their child ("Desperation blamed in abandoning disabled son," Dec. 30).

Every day we live with the fear that we won't be able to cope, and that someday we will just be too old to do so.

The article should not be taken as a statement about the Kelsos' parenting. It is a statement about the lack of care available for the disabled and their families.

The article quoted a Pennsylvania official saying, "It is sometimes difficult and very bureaucratic to get that help, but if you keep pushing for it, you can get it."

This man obviously doesn't realize how much of a "push" it is to just survive sometimes, much less to obtain assistance.

I hope that this family can be put back together, and I hope that the bureaucrats make help more obtainable.

But I wonder if that will happen in time for many of us.

Billie J. Young, Baltimore

I have a 12-year-old disabled daughter. She has cerebral palsy like Steven Kelso; she needs lots of care, too.

I am stunned that Pennsylvania authorities jailed and isolated the Kelso parents. I feel the Kelsos did the best they could, considering they were in personal emotional collapse.

Without nursing care, my family could collapse like the Kelsos. If that happened, Maryland's child protective authorities could humiliate us and destroy our family at the instant of our greatest fatigue and weakness.

To all parents of special needs kids in Maryland, I say: The Kelso family catastrophe shows that child care can collapse and child protective authorities can respond brutally.

Before your home nursing care slips into crisis, set up a last resort respite care plan.

Lee McKusick, Baltimore

Regarding the recent story of the little boy with cerebral palsy who was "abandoned" in Delaware by his parents: We know it can be a tremendous strain on parents having to provide 24-hour care to a disabled child.

However, it is not necessary to resort the extremes the Kelsos did.

Support services are available for medical, therapeutic and respite care.

Caregivers who feel overwhelmed and need help caring for a child with cerebral palsy or other disabilities should know that they are not alone and that help is available.

For nearly 50 years, United Cerebral Palsy has provided care and support to children, adults and families in Maryland. We urge people to call us if they or someone they know has questions regarding the care of a disabled loved one.

Patricia Sandusky, Baltimore

The writer is president of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland Inc.

A lieutenant governor we should not promote

After reading The Sun's article "A name means money in N.C." (Dec. 28), it made perfect sense to me why Maryland's juvenile justice system failed.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has spent so much of time traveling to dozens of cities around the country to build a war chest for a future campaign that she has neglected her responsibilities as the lieutenant governor.

Ms. Townsend's work with the state's juvenile justice system was supposed to show how she would reduce the state's crime rate. It is obvious that she failed to do this.

The thought of her with a position of even greater responsibility should make us all very frightened.

G. Stuart Lacher, Lutherville

Homosexual couples shouldn't expect benefits

I applaud ExxonMobil's decision to end Mobil's policy of providing benefits to gay and lesbian couples ("ExxonMobil falters on gay partner benefits," Opinion Commentary, Dec. 28).

Heterosexual couples generally have to wait until they are married to get spousal benefits.

Why are companies even considering providing benefits to people who exhibit deviant behavior?

Marriage was and is designed to be between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation; that definitely excludes gays and lesbians.

It's time more companies stood their ground and refused to make special accommodations for people who have left the normal realms of behavior.

It's a free county: If you want to choose a lifestyle that is immoral and indecent, go right ahead.

Just don't expect to be treated as if your arrangement is a normal marriage because it is not.

Robert G. Padgett, Baltimore

Gays and lesbians raise children, too

Peter Jensen's article on the increasingly diverse structure of American families surprisingly made no mention of families headed by lesbian or gay parents ("The changing family," Home and Family, Jan. 2).

Although these families have historically been invisible to much of mainstream society, researchers estimate that at least 6 million (and perhaps as many as 14 million) U.S. children are being raised by same-sex parents.

This number is expected to grow rather dramatically in the coming years because of the availability of alternative reproductive technology and adoption.

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