Matthew Marble was not even in the state when his 10 month old daughter was hospitalized for abuse. Little Hailey was in the care of her mother and her mother's boyfriend when someone smashed her head into a table. The head injury left her with cerebral palsy, and, due to the alleged actions of Tennessee social workers, the incident left her without her father. Matthew, who is disabled himself, has been fighting to get his daughter ever since that fateful day in June 2013. His parental rights have been severed by the state of Tennessee, primarily due to his disabilities, but he and his attorney Connie Reguli hope to reverse that decision and have filed a lawsuit against the state for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Matthew is not alone in his fight. His family has been by his side throughout the whole ordeal. His aunt Bobbi Dubois contacted Health Impact News to ask for help in telling their story. Bobbi and her husband Will, Jr., have been willing to take care of Hailey and facilitate the relationship between father and daughter, but they have allegedly been blocked by Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) at every turn. The Dubois are certainly well qualified - they have long been advocates for others, and have even been asked by their own state to take in disabled children. Because of his disabilities, Matthew has never claimed that he could parent alone, but he just wants the opportunity to be a part of his little girl's life. However, DCS set up a permanency plan for him which, according to Reguli, was "discriminatory and failed to accommodate his limitations." This story is about a father's right to parent his child. He loves his daughter, and he did nothing wrong. He was not involved in the abuse that happened when she was in her mother's care. DCS knows that, but still they have kept him from his daughter and have demonstrated that they prefer that she live with strangers rather than her own family.
In an unprecedented move, the federal government has ordered the Department of Children and Families to return a child to her mother. And on Tuesday, we are hearing for the first time directly from the child's family about their 2-year battle with the department. FOX25's Investigative Reporter Kerry Kavanaugh examines allegations the state discriminated against this young mother because of her disability. A newborn girl had yet to leave the hospital when DCF decided the 19-year-old mother, with an intellectual disability, was incapable of caring for her. The mother is publicly known by the pseudonym, Sara Gordon. Her battle to get her baby back is now seen as a victory for people with disabilities.