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Cerebral Palsy Patient Fights To Keep Sons

January 18, 1988

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ A wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy patient who has had two babies taken from her by welfare officials said Monday she’ll fight in court to get back her children ″if it’s the last thing I do before I die.″

Tiffany Callo, 20, gave birth to her second healthy son Friday but lost custody of him the next day, just as she lost custody of her first son shortly after his birth last March.

Santa Clara County welfare officials say Callo, who lives on $533 a month from Social Security, is unable to care for the children and can’t afford to pay for help.

The newborn, Jesse Robert, was placed with the same foster family caring for 10-month-old Antonio David. Callo has not been told where the family lives but she has been allowed to visit Antonio for an hour on Saturdays at a welfare office.

″It’s so unfair, it isn’t right,″ Callo said tearfully. ″I love the children. The children are my pride and my joy and my life and I feel like they’re taking a part of my life away.″

She said she’s convinced she can care adequately for her children, although she knows she would need help.

″I have a question about a few things, like bathing them and lifting them, because sometimes I have involuntary movements,″ she said. ″That could be dangerous for the babies.″

She said the foster family has promised that if they are able to adopt the boys, she will be able to visit with them several times each week. But she said, ″It’s not what I want. I really want my children back.″

She separated from her husband, Tony Rios, and a divorce is pending after she accused him of beating her repeatedly with a wooden stick.

Rios, also confined to a wheelchair because of rheumatoid arthritis and dwarfism, was arrested on charges of abusing his wife and is in custody at a hospital.

Robert Callo, 42, who reared Tiffany as a single father since she was 3 months old, said ″It would be nice if they’d just give her a chance to take care of her children, even for a trial period of six months.″

″I think it’s very unfair,″ he said. ″They’re condemning her because of her handicap. I’ve never had a problem with her except for her stubbornness.″

Although unemployed because of a back injury, he said he’s been trying to find a home with another house behind it so he can help his daughter while allowing her to live independently.

Attorney Clay Bedford, who has been battling welfare officials to allow Callo to keep her first son, plans to file papers in court this week in an effort to win custody of both sons before they are put up for adoption.

″I’ll push it to the hilt,″ Callo said of her legal battle. ″If it’s the last thing I do before I die, I will have these kids in my hands. They are my kids and I will have them one way or another.″

Bedford said he wants the county to pay for full-time help for Callo and her children.

Tiffany Callo, gaunt and tired and weighing slightly more than her normal 85 pounds, said her life in the past year has been wracked with physical and emotional pain.

She said she tried to avoid having a second child by using birth control pills, but her husband’s father found out, became angry and hid the pills.

″He said he wanted me to have a big family,″ she said.

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