A MOTHER'S TOUCH by Jay Mathews


The Tiffany Callo Story
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 Mathews, who in Escalante (1988) wrote about the superteacher who inspired his L.A. barrio students, now profiles another crusader against all odds: Tiffany Callo, a cerebral-palsied mother who fought the State of California for custody of her two sons. Callo, wheelchair-bound since childhood, had her two babies taken from her by the Santa Clara Department of Social Services immediately after their births. She was allowed one visit a week- -supervised by a cold, prejudiced social worker--in a huge and crowded auditorium aptly called ``the Zoo.'' Callo found a lawyer to represent her in a custody appeal, and a different social worker--herself the wife of a disabled man--became involved in the case. Her evaluation of Callo was that she was a caring and competent mother and that her slow pace in performing basic tasks like diapering could actually be an asset, an opportunity for bonding with the babies. The social worker and Callo's lawyer had hopes for the case at the State Supreme Court level if custody was denied at the lower level. But by that time, Callo had been worn down by her long struggle and agreed to let her children be adopted by their current foster parents on the condition that the children be kept together and that she be able to visit them twice a year; unfortunately, these conditions were met only partially. Though apparently no saint, Callo comes across here as capable and deserving of raising her children, with assistance from attendants and special equipment. Mathews argues that the cost of these extra aids, even if borne by the state, would be less than those of foster care. Mathews goes beyond Callo's story to examine the issues arising from the movement of the disabled toward more independent and full lives. There will be other Tiffany Callos, he predicts, pleading convincingly for more humane, compassionate, and imaginative treatment of them.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1992
ISBN: 0-8050-1714-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1992


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