On Having Empathy For Special Needs Moms Gone Wrong
It was a shocking story: Last June Eva Cameron abandoned her 19-year-old daughter—who has cerebral palsy, visual impairment, intellectual disability and is non-verbal—at a bar in Tennessee hundreds of miles from their home in Illinois. The news angered people everywhere. Now Lynn Cameron is being sent to a residence in Illinois; the state has guardianship over her.
After police identified Lynn, Eva 45, returned to Tennessee. She told authorities she could no longer care for Lynn, and signed her over as a ward of the state. No charges were ever pressed, since Lynn is over 18 and there was no official crime committed.
As Eva Cameron told a reporter, she brought her daughter to Tennessee because it has the “number one health care system in the United States of America,” and she wanted her to get the best care. She also noted that her church directed her there because of the large Baptist population. “You can only stretch yourself like a gummy bear so far until you rip,” she said.
The story made my heart ache for Lynn. It raised major questions and concerns about the lack of support for parents of people with disabilities; a 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that Illinois tops the country in cuts for mental health spending. And it also made me feel very, very sad for this mother.
What Eva Cameron did is unspeakably wrong. And yet, if you are the parent of a child with special needs, you have a sense of just how bad things can get, how low your spirits can go, how utterly alone and hopeless you can feel. None of this is completely understandable unless you have a child with disability.
I condemn Eva for her actions; it is hard to imagine doing that with your own flesh and blood. But there is also a part of me that says, I know why you did it. I know.
Image of Lynn Cameron: CNN video