I read the words "mom abandons disabled daughter in a bar," and my stomach clenched. What kind of mother, I started to rant, leaves their child? Their disabled child? But then I read Eva Cameron's story. I read the story that explains why the State of Tennessee has decided not to charge Cameron, why she will be walking away with nary a punishment for driving her daughter from her home state of Illinois south to a bar, letting 19-year-old Lynn Cameron walk in to use the bathroom, and driving away.
Eva Cameron has already lived her punishment. The mother of three has an adult daughter who has cerebral palsy and is mentally just 3 years old, and she doesn't know what to do with her.
I should be clear: having a disabled daughter is not a punishment. Kids with disabilities are every bit the blessing that other kids are to their parents.
It's the hopelessness of finding care for her child that plagues Eva Cameron. She has three kids, and both she and her husband have lost their jobs. She's thousands of dollars in debt. And she has struggled for a decade to find placement for her daughter in a group home in Illinois where she can get her care. She'd been told that Tennessee had better care for people like her daughter, so she drove south.
She's been called the worst mom in America. But put yourself in this woman's shoes for a moment, and suddenly "what kind of mother abandons her child" isn't the question. It's "what kind of strength must it take to juggle these troubles?"
Cameron was facing charges of willful neglect and exploitation of an impaired adult for leaving her daughter in that bar. But if you consider she was looking for better care for her daughter, the fact that the girl was abandoned disappears. The humanity component comes in. This isn't neglect. It's the exact opposite. It's a frustrated mom trying to find the best option for her kid and, yes, screwing up in the process. But we all make mistakes; it doesn't make them criminal or malicious.
When we consider prosecution for criminals in this country, we look first at what the law says. But we also must allow humanity to play a role.
Letting this mother off was the human path.
Do you have sympathy for Eva Cameron? Do you think the right decision was made in letting her off on the charges?
Image via walknboston/Flickr