Where Is Your Mother? A Child Custody Case in California

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Rachel Aviv, staff writer for The New Yorker, recounts the story of Niveen Ismail, a mother whose young son was put up for adoption by the state of California despite her multi-year fight to prove she was fit to remain his parent. She writes about the case in her article โ€œWhere Is Your Motherโ€ is in the December 2 issue of The New Yorker.


Rachel Aviv

Comments [17]

To Jake from Nassau: Niveen was never on welfare. She is employed as a software designer. I don't think it's fair to say that she has now had "another child for the taxpayers to support."

Dec. 06 2013 10:15 AM

No one is right here.

The fact that the mother left her 3 year old in a crib all day is beyond irresponsibility. However, the states are now incentivized to put children in foster care or adoption because those options are funded by the state/fed government.

Dec. 05 2013 12:43 PM
ivan obregon from nyc

Social workers are not they should stop being given the power (too much, too often, too "blank-check", too arbitrarily) to diagnose without a psychological PHD supervisor or some other higher degree/certification/training license as too many social workers aren't sufficiently educated/trained/or even conscious enough to....see beyond their own petty biases, hang-ups and personal politics and agenda.

Family Court undoubtedly deserves the horrific reputation it's built of injustice, but child services often exaggerate as often as they underestimate the daily toil and travails of daily and intermittent parenting and thus....distort the nature of parenting as well.....for the court it sometimes serves more than...."the best interests of the child".

Dec. 05 2013 12:40 PM
Jake from Nassau

Oh, and after all that she has had ANOTHER child for the taxpayers to support .... let me guess ... different father, also not in the picture ?

Dec. 05 2013 12:31 PM
genejoke from Brooklyn

justme from Bayonne -
Thanks for clearing that up.

Leaving a three-year-old alone for the entire day is beyond neglectful, it's simply cruel. Deadbeat mom.
She shouldn't have been allowed to have any more kids!

Dec. 05 2013 12:31 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Here, here, @jgarbuz. It has been my experience. More than a dozen years to be in my boys' lives and mitigate the emotional harm my ex has propagated on to them.

The legal system -- the courts -- arrogantly imposes itself into people's lives in this area, but they are too lazy to really get to the truth. And they are blase about abuses such as lying and smearing of the other parent (typically the father) in the process. Lawyers are allowed to use innuendo and implication without having to back it up with any proof and the judges fall for it, hook, line, & sinker. There are no consequences for lying or exaggeration. It's treated as if it's a political campaign -- the candidates are expected to play fast & loose with the truth and it's about getting your opponent on the defensive.

And they are blase about the abuses -- the emotional abuses -- done by one parent in her effort to keep the other parent from having a healthy relationship with the children. This includes the so-called helping professionals -- the social worker and forensic shrinks. They just don't get it.

One parent using the children as a weapon to bludgeon the other, for revenge, whether deserved or not -- and the entire divorce industrial complex goes along with it, time and again.

And it's all done under the phoney rubric of "In the best interests of the child." Bull! The best interest of everyone making money off of the divorcing parents, who are already at financial risk due to the reality of running two households instead of one.

Pathetic. And the media has yet to recognize the abuses of civil rights inherent in these cases. Why? Because there is an attitude that men cannot be victims. But they omit the fact that the children are the worst victims. And as jgarbuz points out, it eventually bites the rear-ends of some feminists, as their sons are caught up in similar circumstances and they, the feminist grandmothers cannot see their grandchildren.

Justice indeed!

Dec. 05 2013 12:31 PM
The Truth from Becky

A shame.

Dec. 05 2013 12:27 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I think there ought to be some standards, but that each case must be carefully evaluated before anyone is arrested.

Oddly enough, so many foster children are placed with families that clearly do it for the money and neglect/abuse the children, yet children who are cared for lovingly by their natural parents are taken from them for no readily apparent reason. And there are children out there who live for years with sexually abusive parents and no one ever knows.

But we have 4th Amendment rights and CPS can't walk into someone's private home without cause, so there are children who are abused and no one knows about it and parents who are abusing and no one knows and parents who are doing their very best and love their children are arrested and have their children taken from them. I think there's a flaw in the system.

Dec. 05 2013 12:27 PM
justme from Bayonne

genejoke- she left her 3 year old son at home alone while she went to work.

Dec. 05 2013 12:21 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Who gave the government the right to interfere in family life in the first place/ Take a guess.
Anyhoo, children will eventually be produced in factories. There is no other ultimate answer. The "family" is a dying cultural artifact in any case.

Dec. 05 2013 12:19 PM
C Swett Esq from NY Foundling Alum

I'd rather not have my comment published - just ask the - writer about the process of sealed records

Dec. 05 2013 12:19 PM
justme from Bayonne

genejoke- she left her 3 year old son at home alone while she went to work.

Dec. 05 2013 12:18 PM
Jake from Nassau County

Next time you hear about the vast economic benefits of unrestricted immigration, think about cases like this. The mother probably got the job by working for way less than a citizen, and the taxpayers are left to cover the costs of her son's care and her case.

Dec. 05 2013 12:17 PM
C Swett, Esquire from Fostered out by NY Foundling

The National Goal under the Adoption and Safe Families Act is permanency: adopted away to a 'forever family'.

The child is adopted and a new falsified birth record is issued to show the child was born to the adopters. Even as an adult the adoptee does not have access to the State Record of their birth. The ability to reunite, that many children who age out of foster care take advantage of, is denied those who are adopted if they do not have memory of their family of origin.

Dec. 05 2013 12:17 PM
Tara from NYC

Leaving a 3 yr old child home alone defies all logic regardless of cultural background. With that said, this sounds like a situation that with sufficient support and intervention should have been remedied to enable this family to stay intact. The reality for many children who are severed from their biological families by child welfare agencies fair much worse than had the children remained with them.

Dec. 05 2013 12:16 PM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Maybe I missed something. What exactly did this woman do to lose custody of her son? The guest seems to be using euphemisms rather than say exactly what the woman did.

Dec. 05 2013 12:15 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, it was the "progressive" and feminist movements that created "family court" and the social services industry, because it mostly took children away from fathers. But now it's coming around to bite some of them. Now some mothers can begin to feel what fathers have felt when they lose their own flesh and blood to "the system." What goes around, comes around, baby!

Dec. 05 2013 12:09 PM

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