Terrance Heath

Poisonous Parenting on Parade

Filed By Terrance Heath | October 08, 2007 11:41 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Weekly Reader
Tags: marriage, parenting, parents

It's happened again. Another mom drowned her kids in the bathtub.

2004686715749755094 RsCity prosecutors filed two counts of aggravated murder against Amber Hill, 22, after a coroner ruled the deaths of the girls, ages 4 and 2, were homicides.

Hill had no documented history of neglecting the girls, but had herself been the victim of abuse by their father, Jamie Cintron, according to authorities and court records.

"We never had a call of any maltreatment of the children," said Jim McCafferty, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services. "The kids were clean and well cared for. It's just a sad situation."

Cintron, 23, said Hill called him at work Monday and said their children "are at peace," police Lt. Thomas Stacho said. He then went to the woman's apartment and pulled the girls from the water in the

I was actually watching a television show about Andrea Yates when I read this news. And I knew that I'd post about it, though I also knew that doing so would will probably draw some criticism about politicizing or exploiting what's clearly a tragedy no matter how you look at it. But every time I hear a store like this one, I can't help remembering that even though the only thing our son has ever gotten in the bathtub is a bath, we're still in the same category as parents who do all manner of violence to their children.

The series I didn't intend to be a series is becoming the series that just won't die. Now, to be fair, there's a good reason for that. There are, after all, more heterosexuals than homosexuals. That's the way it's always been and -- despite the fear of various and sundry wingnuts that everyone's gonna up and go gay and stop reproducing if there's even slightly less discrimination against gays or anything approaching equal treatment -- how it's always gonna be. Thousands upon thousands of years of human history and human culture, including many in which same-sex orientation was not only tolerated but an accepted part of some cultures, bear that out.

As a result, there are probably going to be more heterosexual parents than homosexual parents. Thus there are going to be more stories of disastrous heterosexual parenting than disastrous homosexual parenting. To be sure, the latter does exist. Some gay people can be bad parents, just like some heterosexuals can be bad parents. But, in the minds of some people the obvious opposite assumption, that some gay people can be good parents just like some heterosexuals can be good parents, doesn't apply because (as I pointed out before) you can't be gay and be a good parent.

The point is that there are people who put me and other gay parents in the same category as these parents. The point is that there are people who believe that being heterosexual makes someone an inherently better candidate for parenthood and that being gay makes one an inherently inferior parent, because gay parents are abusive and selfish by definition. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do to your kids. Being heterosexual doesn’t automatically make you a good parent, but you can’t be a good parent and be gay, according to their logic.

It's the logical extension of assumption that you can't be gay and be a good person.

It comes down to a basic question: Can you be gay and be a good person? Can you be good person and be gay? Can you be gay and good? Good and gay? From religious conservatives, there seem to be two answers: Maybe. And no.

We're even, really, less than parents and even less than citizens according to the Maryland Court of Appeals, because we didn't conceive and deliver the son we've loved and cared for for nearly five years, and whom we'll love and care for any many ways for the rest of our lives. Amber Hill, on the other hand, is clearly heterosexual and clearly made babies with her (abusive) husband, and is thus more of a parent and more of citizen than we are.

The family of Amber Hill offered an explanation Tuesday for why she would drown her two toddler daughters in a bathtub: years of domestic violence finally caused the 22-year-old mother to snap.

But the children's 23-year-old father, Jaime Cintron, was committed to working through their rocky relationship, including learning to control his temper, so that he could be a good father to their children, his family said.

They said he took anger-management classes and both he and Hill took parenting classes.

"Bottom line, he is not the one who did the crime," said Vivian Cintron, the mother of Jaime Cintron.

The two views play out in a double slaying that has made national headlines.

So is Wendy Cook, the multi-tasking Saratoga mom I read about via DaddyTypes, who -- between turning tricks -- snorted cocaine off her eight-week-old's stomach. While breast feeding.

2004611771921904790 RsWendy Cook, a 37-year-old from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was one of five women caught early Monday morning in Schenectady, N.Y., in an undercover sex sting operation.

Through interviews with others who had interacted with Cook near the time of her arrest, Kilcullen said investigators determined that she had performed oral sex on a pair of customers while her two children, an 8-week-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, were awake in the back seat of her car.

Authorities also allege that Cook used drugs in the car with the children, including smoking crack cocaine and using her son as a tool to ingest cocaine.

"We learned throughout our investigation that while breast-feeding, she snorted cocaine off the stomach of the infant," Kilcullen said.

But Wendy's clearly heterosexual, or at least has heterosexual tendencies. She likes boys well enough, and she's made babies. So, if she can just stop sucking off strangers while her kids are in the car (or at least make sure they're asleep first), and stop snorting coke off her son's stomach, she'll be well on her way to being a good parent and citizen. She's already met the first two most important criteria.

So do the parents I read about over at Parents Behaving Badly, all of whom make Britney -- who just turned her boys over to Daddy Federline -- look almost like Mary Poppins.

I mean parents like Drenda Patrick and Reginald Carr.

2004005412967111040 RsOfficers found the boy lying in his own feces and dried blood on the linoleum floor of an apartment unit Thursday. He had a fractured skull, broken nose and burns on his arm, which had been broken. Police arrested his mother and her live-in boyfriend.

"I knew something was wrong," said Cook. "But I didn't think it would be this bad."

Police say the boy was burned and beaten by his mother's boyfriend, with the mother's complicity. Reginald Carr, 42, broke the boy's arm and bashed him in the head with an aerosol can, cracking his skull, police said.

When the boy refused to wash his hands with soap and water, Carr held the boy's arm on top of a coiled hot top burner for four seconds, according to police.

...In addition to brutalizing the boy, Carr and Patrick also kept him locked in a room with no furniture except for a plastic bucket to be used as a toilet, police said. Carr whipped him with an extension cord and beat him regularly with his fists, the boy told police.

Hey, at least they made sure he had the right reading material.

For about a month last year, the boy was enrolled in Skyview Elementary, Hayworth said. His teachers told police the boy was friendly and engaged in his studies, but his mother and Carr eventually withdrew him, saying they were going to homeschool him. School officials say they didn't notice any abuse at the time.

The boy was recovering at a hospital Friday, and officials will determine where to place him after his release.

Hayworth said the boy received little education. As he sat in a locked room, he had only one book: the Bible.

And Alysha Green (another Texas mom whose husband apparently ignored her mental illness).

2004134440209346790 RsAriania Green, a 3-year-old critically burned Saturday in a fire that police say was set by her mother, died Tuesday afternoon after being taken off life support at a Dallas hospital.

She had suffered burns over 90 percent of her body.

Her two older sisters, who also were doused with gasoline and set on fire at their Haltom City home, remained at the hospital with severe burns.

Alysha Green, 29, now faces a charge of capital murder in addition to two counts of injury to a child with serious bodily harm, Haltom City police spokeswoman Sgt. Terry Stayer said in a news release late Tuesday.

...Alysha Green is accused of herding the girls into a closet, dousing herself and her daughters with gasoline and then setting them on fire. Neighbors pulled the two older girls from the house as Alysha Green knocked on another neighbor's door to get help. She then returned to get Ariania.

The girls' father, Adam Green, arrived a short time after his daughters were pulled out, a neighbor has said.

And finally, there's Oklahoma mom Rae Dawn Smith.

2003031477936186825 RsJurors in July found Smith guilty of allowing her then-second husband to abuse Kelsey. They chose the punishment of 27 years.

Kelsey, 2, died on Oct. 11, 2005, at her home near Meeker. Doctors determined she died from abuse. Jurors heard testimony that Kelsey had been abused for months, suffering broken bones, bruises, a sexual assault and other injuries.

(Based on the pic, it looks like she's pregnant again.)

I could go on and on, and never get this posted.

Amber. Wendy. Dendra. Raye. All apparently heterosexual and all proven procreators.

I guess that answers the question I always ask in these posts: What have these parents got that we don't?

Somehow that they’re heterosexual puts them ahead of me in the realm of parenting, as a gay dad with two un-baked kids. And, because they made those babies with their own reproductive organs, thus proving their reproductive capabilities — no matter how well they parented them once they got them out of the delivery room — they meet the Maryland Court of Appeals minimum requirement to be deemed worthy of the rights and protections of marriage, for themselves, their spouses and their children.

Not so for my family.

Asked and answered.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to stop asking.


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I'm finally returning to the rest of world.

I apologize for my long absence here, but the past month has been an emotional roller coaster for our family.

We were in the midst of our second adoption, and on Sept. 11 got word that our birthmother was in labor. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and that Friday both the birthmother and baby were discharged. The baby went with us, back to the extended stay hotel where were were staying until we could legally take her home. We called her Lauren.

The next Friday afternoon, we were hoping to go home soon. But that afternoon we got a call that the birthmother had changed her mind. Legally, she had 10 days after the birth or seven days after signing away her parental rights to change her mind, and Friday was that deadline. We packed up, explained to our son as best we could what was happening, and started the four hour drive to the agency office to return Lauren.

Three hours into the drive, we stopped so Parker could have dinner, and Lauren could have a diaper change and a bottle. We got a call that the birthmother had "unchanged" her mind, and wanted us to keep and raise Lauren. We breathed a sigh of relief, found a hotel for the night, and then returned to our original hotel the next day.

We thought we were out of the woods.

The following Thursday morning, we got another call. It turned out that while the birthmother signed the necessary legal documents when she changed her mind, the agency didn't have her come to the offic again to sign the legal papers needed to "unchange" her mind. That weekend, she told her father about the baby and the adoption for the first itme. Being anti-adoption, he advised her not to sign anything and told her he would raise the child.

So, the agency could not get her to come back and sign the nedessary legal document. Without it, neither we nor the agency had a legal leg to stand on.

We packed up again, explained to Parker again, and made the drive again. We stopped after three hours, so Parker could have dinner, and Lauren could have a diaper change and a bottle.

This time, no eleventh hour call came.

At 7:00 p.m. that Thurday, we placed Lauren in the arms of the social workers at the agency, kissed her goodbye, and started our journey back home.

It's been more than a week, now. And while we'll never not be sad about losing Lauren, we are doing a bit beter each day. It helps that we've had tremendous support from family, friends, and neighbors. Each day we're reminded that we have a good life, good friends, and good people in our livces. And, of course, we have each other

Our hearts will always be a little broken, but will mend.

suzanne.thompson | October 8, 2007 12:09 PM

everyone has their own issues, as a health care professional, I see everything. to use other peoples mental health issues as an example to try and excuse or explain another mental health issue, IE, transgender ism, is ludicrous.

suzanne.thompson | October 8, 2007 12:11 PM

I am a health care professional, and wonder how you can compare psychotic parents to your own mental health issue, namely transgenderism. I appears ridiculous to trained health care persons

I think you're in the wrong comment thread, Suzanne. :)

Terrance, you and I "spoke" over e-mail while all of this was happening. You know that I love you and care about you and your family.

That you would be a better parent than any of these horrible examples is without a doubt.