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

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  1. by GirlWithTheCane

    On December 14, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I don’t feel like I can judge the action either, taking the broad view of “decision to surrender child to authorities” I know from working with families that there are very few resources for caregivers, and that it’s a tremendous stress.

    However…acknowledging that she may not have been thinking clearly…I really wish that Eva could have dropped her daughter off in front of a hospital and driven away…the news reports that I read said that the young woman was quite ill when Eva left her at a bar (with no ID or money).

    If people are looking for reasons why this happened, though, there are plenty of other people to look at besides Eva. Clearly the social support system for people with disabilities and their families failed this family, big-time. It’s very sad, and something that politicians need to look at before they start slashing budgets for things like respite for parent caregivers…or I guarantee we’ll hear about more and more stories like this.

  2. by hdtnybh

    On December 18, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Violet. I can see what your saying… Anne`s blog is impossible, last saturday I bought a top of the range Lotus Elan from bringing in $8789 this last five weeks and also ten/k this past-month. without a question it is the nicest job I’ve ever had. I began this 8-months ago and pretty much immediately started to bring in over $79.. per-hour. I went to this website,, wow.com

  3. by Kristi

    On January 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I guess I get it, too, although I don’t understand why she left her at a bar. That seems really dangerous and something awful could have happened to Lynn before police were able to get to her. Sadly, people aren’t always nice and helpful. I’m glad nobody took advantage of her at the bar.
    What’s it going to take for us as a community to realize that parents with special needs children NEED the village? If we don’t have family nearby, it’s hard. Making friends between therapies when all of our kids are so different is hard, too. Something needs to happen. I agree with GirlWithTheCane regarding needing better social support systems.

  4. by NoAdditives

    On March 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I don’t think you have to be a parent of a special needs child to understand that feeling. I think it’s something that a lot of parents have felt at new time or another. Parenting is tough no matter what, and we all have our moments when we feel like we just can’t do it. This woman’s actions were wrong, but I think it’s terrible that she got to that point at all.