Mother Loses Custody Battle For Having Breast Cancer

Judge Nancy Gordon of North Carolina ruled last month that Sofia, 11, and Bud, 5, should be raised by their father, Kane Snyder, rather than their mother, Alaina Giordano. The main reason? Giordano has stage four breast cancer that, though currently stable, has metastasized in her bones.

Giordiano’s breast cancer was not the only concern–Giordano and Snyder’s divorce was an ugly one, filled with allegations of cheating, abuse and mental health issues–but the judge cited Giordano’s health as a major impetus for the ruling. Jezebel writes that Judge Gordon used the following information from forensic psychologist Dr. Helen Brantley to justify her decision:

The more contact [the children] have with the non-ill parent, the better they do. They divide their world into the cancer world and a free of cancer world. Children want a normal childhood, and it is not normal with an ill parent.

But Holly Prigerson, director of Center for Psycho-oncology & Palliative Care Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, tells ABC News that this decision will be worse for the children:

Cancer is not leprosy…young children want to be with their parents, even if ill. That’s not to say that seeing a parent so ill will not be upsetting for children–it will be frightening–but not seeing a mother and not receiving honest answers about why mommy is not there may be more detrimental to the child’s mental health and functioning than the reverse.

Judge Gordon’s ruling will send the children to live with their father in Chicago by June 17. Giordano, who lives in North Carolina, intends to appeal. Because her treatment is being monitored by the Duke Cancer Institute, moving to Chicago is near impossible. The New York Times reports that Snyder, an executive at Sears Holding, Inc., said he would not quit his job in this economic climate in order to move closer to Giordano.

Giordano told ABC:

It makes no sense to take them away from me because you don’t know how long I’m going to live…Everybody dies and none of us knows when. Some of us have a diagnosis of cancer, or diabetes, or asthma. This is a particularly dangerous ruling to base a custody case on a diagnosis.

Until an appeal can be made, Giordano is making her case through TV appearances and her Facebook page, Alaina Giordano Should Not Lose Her Kids Because She Has Breast Cancer. Sign this petition to urge the North Carolina justice system to overturn this decision.

Photo from Flickr user pfala under Creative Commons 2.0.