An Oregon couple who have two children together sat down recently to speak out about their 4-year-long harrowing experience with losing their kids and then recently getting them back.
Amy Gabbrini and Eric Ziegler had two boys together. The first, now 4-year-old Christopher, was taken from their custody when he was a few days old and the other, 11-month-old Hunter, was also taken just days after his birth. Why? Because their IQ scores were too low.
Court documents suggested that the couple’s “limited cognitive abilities” got in the way of their capability to parent their children safely. Though their IQs have been questioned, the DHS says that low IQ is not enough of a factor for removing a child from the home. The department cannot comment on specific cases, however, so what other reasons the state had for removing the children are unclear. Amy claims that a roommate of theirs called Child Protective Services, stating that the couple was not supervising their child adequately, which they deny.
“I guess they’re thinking that because our IQs are so low, they don’t think we’re smart enough,” Amy Fabbrini told Inside Edition.
Amy scored 72 on the state’s IQ test, while partner Eric scored a 66.
“I don’t think that IQ has anything to do with raising your kids,” said Amy. “The only thing that should matter… is that you love them, you’re able to support them and that you’re just there for them and their needs. And I can do that.”
The couple felt like they were penalized by social workers for things that other parents do regularly. Their attorney, Jamie Gerlitz, said “It was just micro-criticisms of their parenting. They were things ordinary people do on a daily basis,” such as not reading enough during visits and taking or giving treats as a form of discipline. Oregon’s children services agency had 27 witnesses, none of whom “discussed any safety issues,” said the attorney.
But recently the couple finally regained custody of their children. Circuit Judge Bethany Flint saw no sufficient evidence that the couple couldn’t safely care for their boys. The younger child was returned before Christmas and the older is beginning visits to phase him into the parents he has never known.
Sherrene Hagenbach is the couple’s advocate and has been a volunteer observer for supervised visits with their children. “All they’ve wanted is to have their own family,” she told Inside Edition. “So I’m ecstatic that this family can move forward… The greatest thing is that Christopher seems so resilient to what’s going on. Hunter’s smile lights up a room. He is such an easy baby. He’s happy. He sees mommy and daddy and smiles huge, with all four teeth showing.”