Yesterday in Ottawa, a man lost custody of his two children. This isn’t news; custody cases are decided every day. But what makes this case noteworthy is that the judge cited the man’s obesity in his decision to remove the children permanently and place them for adoption.
The 38 year old man, whose identity is being kept secret to maintain his children’s confidentiality, currently weighs somewhere around 380 pounds. His children, who have special needs, lived with his ex-wife until last year when they were seized by Children’s Aid after a suspected overdose. They have been in the custody of CAS ever since despite the man’s efforts to access them. He claims he has not seen his two children whatsoever since last year.
When this battle with CAS began, the man weighed as much as 525 pounds. He took it upon himself to lose the weight, even refusing weight-loss surgery so that he would “respect the weight loss” himself. However, with his current weight still near 400 pounds, the judge felt that the man’s weight loss would be a “full time job”, and that it’s also a “full time job” to care for his two special-needs children, meaning the judge believed the man wasn’t able to properly care for the children and that it was in their best interests to be adopted.
The decision doesn’t appear to be wholly based on the man’s weight, however. The judge called him a loving and intelligent father, who also has an apparent history of smoking marijuana, of marathon video-game sessions and outbursts of violence, including towards Children’s Aid. The judge also cited the man’s “hatred of women”, which he denies.
The man now vows to stage a hunger strike on Parliament Hill to bring attention to his case. Certainly, if his weight were the only deciding factor in this case, it’s not only disturbing, it’s discrimination. But is it the only factor here? Can a man with his own physical and mental challenges raise two special needs children?
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