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Oh. Good evening I'm Jim Swenson. Good evening I'm going to gamble booth. Welcome to this edition of friends Street Weekly. Tonight we're devoting our entire half hour to one subject. Our reporters call it special parents. To social workers these families are called M R D D. Mentally retarded or developmentally disabled. They are headed by parents whose intelligence is far below average. A couple of key definitions retarded is a term that refers to specific low IQ levels. Developmentally Disabled is a newer term that broadens that definition to include people with slightly higher IQ. And we're not talking about the severely retarded here but people who are truly capable of caring for themselves. These families are all but ignored by their communities and social service
agencies that their numbers continue to grow. Tonight we'll meet four of them. Reporter Marilyn do I to has our story. Our fathers to me it is hard to say who enjoys the story more three year old Anthony or his 35 year old mother Marjorie saw me. Marjorie reads Only as well as a fourth grader. She is borderline retarded. My son Anthony is normal. Everyone hears.
Everyone hurries out. There are just the two of them. Marjorie and Anthony are mother and son. They are playmates too. No one could doubt Marjorie's love for Anthony but some question just how will she and other intellectually limited parents can raise their children to provide safe nurturing environments for growing bodies and developing minds. I know I love you. Do you know I love you. The average IQ is 100. Marjorie saw means IQ is just seventy two which makes her a member of a growing class of mentally handicapped citizens who are also parents. This also here in Oregon a direct result of forms from the 1960s and 70s. Their
status was a symbol of the mentally retarded and the developmentally disabled into the community. Social Education is providing them with advantages they never had before and the end sterilization guarantees of reproductive rights for the mentally retarded. More and more they are having children in the Portland area alone. Marjorie and Anthony don't know it but they are at the center of a controversy concerning the retarded right to have children versus their children's right to grow up in a good home with those families. You know the parents just dearly love the children and it's just for a lack of cognitive ability that they're able to not carry out the test they're not able to carry at the time. The fact is is that you know people with all those feelings can raise children but
they are going to have problems. They need resources they need some help in that process. Despite common belief mental retardation is rarely genetic. And like many perhaps even most children born to retarded parents Anthony unself is not retarded. Not now at least. But that could change. Anthony could fall victim to what is called environmental retardation. Simply put if Anthony fails to receive the intellectual stimulation that most children get at home. He will be unable to keep up with kids his own age. Each week Anthony and Marjorie attend head start preschool.
Both come to learn and he learns to explore Margery to parent Marie Moreland runs the program. It needed to be taught what was appropriate at what age. You know what sorts of activities Anthony should be doing and what's appropriate abroad. I know specifically last year and stuff worked with one tree on how to give Anthony some more freedom how to how to let him be a 2 year old without the sort of everywhere that he went which is. Difficult for me. To me things I don't.
Think that's. Comfortable for her. But not necessarily good for. You. With two young sons Diana Johnson just 23 has her hands full. Jeremy is not yet one would call the. Three I have with your time. Likely you don't.
Like Marjorie. Diana is a single mother and also according to social workers she is borderline retarded. For anyone raising children is a tough job for Diana Johnson. It can be an extraordinary burden. Even daily routine is a challenge for Diana. Nutrition and cleanliness are new skills. Until recently the state's Children's Services Division had to send someone in to show how to clean her home. I'm garbage but I own a physical child abuse among the developmentally disabled is not considered a problem but neglect is whether unmeaning or accidental.
Parenting often requires you to do at least two things at once. That's almost impossible. Experts say retarded can be taught to parent but as a rule the retarded think concretely not abstractly so it is hard for them to apply what they've learned in one situation to another. It's hard to know what to do if their children develop it. Diane is worried about her kids getting older. Kids with her. I don't think so Mike.
And in 2001 Diana Johnson received her special education high school diploma for her two boys. Diana has even higher expectations. I'm not just trying to be smart liked. Her better. Social workers believed both children were born with normal intelligence but so far Nick at age 3 is barely speaking his words not recognizable. It is not clear whether Nick is truly hyperactive or simply lacks a calm hand. Jeremy The baby is unusually quiet.
Mother was with me and my mom my mom or me. Yes yes the compactor family is getting ready for church. It's early Sunday morning. Mother I need in Leonard Kilpatrick I've been married 21 my mother my brother my mike just stepdad result will now get married get married get too wild and need it is retarded. Her IQ perhaps just 50 thought it was normal and it was considered borderline retarded. Together they are raising a full house. Six kids still live at home and there's Lerner Jr.. I needed you know Ruth Willie and Lisa's boyfriend Vincent who recently moved
in with the Kilpatrick. A little nervous about having children because you're retarded. Yes that's true. OK everybody was telling me I should not ever have children because I'm a daughter. Mother didn't want the children. There was a couple might get one. I ended up getting anyway that I tried to kill I tried I didn't want guns but I guess the other one would need a means is that she's had several miscarriages. It's not clear whether she meant to cause them children being mommy taught me I think you know willing and our target children. No no way.
My my my my. Are you happy that some are retarded and some are not happy about happy about. But my God maybe if someone had told you before you had children you would have three retarded children and three normal children. Would you have not had children. Yeah I was just the one at the Association for Retarded Citizens. Bill West is Leonard Kilpatrick's caseworker. The normal kids Michael Jackson's family are going to get stimulus from other areas not just for their home but from other areas there's no doubt about that because the home lacks resources. Unfortunately they're going to lack some abilities. They're giving out something to be.
One of the Kilpatrick children. The sacrifice was not worth it with their parents permission. Sixteen year old Esther Kilpatrick left home. I wasn't happy. And I started skipping school and I was watching. For the past two years. Mr. Kilpatrick has lived in a foster home. Her father Leonard explains why you were telling him you know. Thank you I got in the light it was a very Nothing you're saying yes. Well if that was your real name so then what was I didn't. They stated when you graduate only Garrity when you go to school on like a range where you're going to do it because
your parents didn't make you nervous. I tried to make you had excuses. I put my clothes in the washer wouldn't think my concern was just kind of going. Esther does not quite know why she was both an able to live at home and go to school. But her foster mother Mary help Bush has some idea. Go away from my shoes. Somebody. I gather you're pretty bright. Is that hard. I would be smarter than your parents. Like really go to a restaurant stick a
napkin and for sure I'll try to tell her. Those are quite manners for instance and put on her so she could look things like that. You try not to tell her because she's not. It is painted over now but once neighborhood vandals scrawled the words retard house on the garage door. Without that label you might never notice the Mars family they live in a modest neighborhood on the outskirts of Eugene Oregon.
Wow Wayne and Conny Mars are a striking example of the developmentally disabled who for the most part get into mainstream America. They met more than 17 years ago in their special education classes. For children only 15 year old Christina is mentally retarded. Thank you. When we visited the Mars family their 16 year old son Jonathan had just moved out after a bitter and violent fight with his mother. John is very bright and apparently learned he was smarter than me. Some way you are burned right. I.
Don't know anything. You know like I hate. How when the family are there and. Just if they were I mean they really are so many things. I marched right here just before the family sat down to dinner. Jonathan did stop by but he did not
know you so I did my yes. The lives of the developmentally disabled are further complicated by the burdens of poverty. For those who do work on weight or in sheltered workshops many live lives of dependency off government programs. Both Diana and Marjorie are welfare mothers on disability payments and Social Security benefits help keep the Kilpatrick dam solvent. But for years Leonard Kilpatrick did work as a dishwasher for Fred Meyer stores with the South.
Our condition Leonard says retire him poor years ago. Here's her mornings to serve lunch to the elderly. Despite his job experience a noodle like many other retarded adults has been unable to hold down a paying job in you need his case. There's a particular reason they are barred from New Girl will that was because kids do and they are doing and I was I was I was tired because I was late arriving it was like it was like oh maybe there is some vice.
Conquest song come on like cost about twenty thousand dollars worth of damages. But what amuses Anita one day does not sit well with her one month later today if need is frustrated by her inability to get off government assistance and to bring home a paycheck. Did you ever try to go find another job to do the job for you sir. So are you angry and are you angry and I'm angry at the people who don't want to let me work. I'd like to do.
Just because God does much better he supports his family and $600 a month working two jobs weekends he's a staff sergeant with the National Guard weekdays he installs furniture. Like you did below average and it is a very real connection between his mental deficiency and his earning power. I would like to have been born with. For the mentally retarded and the developmentally disabled having a family is often the
final step towards living a normal life. Yet these parents remain markedly below normal intelligence. During late 1986 in Multnomah County. Roughly one third of those parents who lost custody of their children were mothers and fathers with developmental disabilities. Deputy district attorney Keith my eyes and heart would handle some of those cases. I don't think it's it's anything but a cruel kindness sort of like holding a carrot in front of somebody that they can't reach. To say to a person who would like to be a parent but doesn't have the you where with all because of intellectual limitations take to allow them to continue to have children. You. Know because you have a case of.
I thought maybe. You say you're sterilized. I was. There before this last one. I don't think we should sleep. I don't think you should have had several calls I think you should have been born to another woman without faults. I got most of a palsy eight years ago while married Margery lost custody of two other children two daughters. I skipped town for just one time. Sometimes I think is a little too much sometimes too. When I cry for Marjory and parents like our society offers little special help. Some like advocate Holly Robinson believe we should broaden the scope of services to retarded parents that might even include group homes or
foster care for entire families. American society is not very good at maintaining the notion that we can have more than one or two or three primary caretakers. I don't think society can either afford to provide 24 hour neutral foster care until you know from birth to 18 years old. Nor do I think it can work and I think what. What that really involves is allowing the parents to play their pairing. And in terms of money that could cost a lot over a long period of time. But medical ethicist Dr. Michael Garland argues it's unfair to give people privileges without giving them the support they need. No that that if you if you say a certain somebody has a right to a better education to better housing to whatever it might be and then you don't back that up with resources when you're fooling yourself as a society or you're indulging a cool down
and that those who work with Marjorie saw me say they do not think she will be able to care for Anthony much longer either because of her own inabilities or because there is little outside help. Do you worry about him becoming smarter than you. Sometimes bothers to read children's books and think he's almost four now in roughly four more years. Anthony saw me will be the same mentally as his mother. Just for the students. Floyd did the press pull.
Front Street Weekly
Episode Number
Special Parents
Producing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Contributing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland, Oregon)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
This episode looks at the growing community of MRDD (Mentally Retarded or Developmentally Disabled) families. In these families, the parents, while not incapable of caring for themselves, have intelligence levels that fall well below average. Reporter Marilyn Deutsch visits four of these families as part of a special 30-minute story.
Episode Description
"""During the past two decades the basic rights of mentally handicapped Americans have been expanded considerably. But the rights that are taken for granted by most citizens can have unexpected complications for people who are mentally retarded or otherwise developmentally disabled. The right to be a parent is one of these complex issues. ""Since routine sterilization of the mentally handicapped has been discontinued, more and more of them are now having children. The key question is what happens when the right to be a parent conflicts with the right of a child to grow up in a good home environment. ""This report focuses on several families in Oregon which are headed by these 'special parents,' and it points out the difficulties faced by the parents and their children. This is an issue that will be of growing importance in the years ahead but is getting virtually no attention at present. ""These families are sometimes scorned in their neighborhoods; more often they are simply anonymous. The situation is complicated by the fact that many of them depend on welfare payments to make ends meet. This fact will have serious implications as taxpayers become increasingly reluctant to pay for expanded social services. ""There are no simple answers to the questions raised by this report. It is hoped that by making the public more aware of this situation we can spur new efforts to find solutions.""--1987 Peabody Awards entry form."
Other Description
Front Street Weekly is a news magazine featuring segments on current events and topics of interest to the local community.
Created Date
Asset type
News Report
Social Issues
Local Communities
Oregon Public Broadcasting 1987
Media type
Moving Image
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Associate Producer: Shaffer, Jeff
Editor: Gosson, Steve
Executive Producer: Graham, Lyle
Host: Swenson, Jim
Host: Booth, Gwyneth Gamble
Performer: Deutsch, Marilyn
Producer: Deutsch, Marilyn
Producing Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
Identifier: 112923.0 (Unique ID)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:28:45:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: 87056dct-arch (Peabody Object Identifier)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:27:00
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Chicago: “Front Street Weekly; 707; Special Parents,” 1987-11-24, Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Front Street Weekly; 707; Special Parents.” 1987-11-24. Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Front Street Weekly; 707; Special Parents. Boston, MA: Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from