LOS ANGELES, JAN. 16 -- Tiffany Callo, a disabled San Jose woman waging an unprecedented fight to raise her 10-month-old son, gave birth to a second son Friday and was told he also will be taken from her.
With eight months left before her elder son, Antonio David, is scheduled to be put up for adoption, the 20-year-old with cerebral palsy was tearful at the news but seemed resigned to begin another legal and administrative battle for newborn Jesse Robert.
"I'm the boy's mother," said Callo, describing her reaction to the news that Jesse will soon go to a foster home. "I don't like it particularly, but I have to be realistic."
Several experts in the problems of the disabled say that Callo and her husband, Antonio Rios, from whom she separated last month, are the first parents they know of who have had children taken from them because of the parents' physical handicaps.
Callo and Rios, 34, who has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and congenital defects including stunted arms, must use wheelchairs and acknowledge they cannot lift a baby or do necessary child-related chores without help. Callo has sought a full-time attendant to help care for her children until they are toilet trained, but Santa Clara County officials have indicated that the county does not have the necessary funds.
Reached by telephone Friday night at her room in the Valley Medical Center, Callo said she was tired after the baby's sudden birth at 6:58 a.m. in the apartment she shares with her part-time county attendant, Patricia Smith. "I was in labor for only about 10 minutes," she said, laughing. "It was fast."
Both women had been up late talking with visiting friends, and Smith was so groggy that she forgot to give the ambulance service their apartment number, Callo said. "It took them a while to get here," she said.
The baby, like Callo's first child, seems healthy, with no apparent disabilities, she said.
County officials put Antonio David in a foster home when Rios' sister, who had cared for the baby, moved out of their apartment one month after his birth. The parents were allowed to see him one hour a week at a county social services department office. Because they were living entirely on state and county welfare funds and had no van, they rode their battery-driven wheelchairs on a 45-minute trip through downtown San Jose to reach the meeting spot.
Both Callo and Rios, who had lived together since early 1986 and married in November, said their financial problems and fight to retrieve their child strained their relationship. In early December, Callo said, Rios hit her on the stomach with a stick during an argument about money. Angry and frightened that he might hurt the unborn child, she pinched him in the groin before Smith pulled them apart.
Rios was arrested for spousal abuse and confined to the jail ward of the hospital where his son was born Friday. Callo said she plans to seek a divorce because she does not think it is safe to live with Rios. But she also is trying to arrange for him to see Jesse Robert.
She said she called Rios Friday to say, "I love you, and you have an 8-pound, 9-ounce son."
Hospital officials have allowed her to nurse the baby, she said, but she was released this afternoon without the baby and was told that he will soon be placed in the same foster home as his brother.
Under state law, children cannot be kept in foster care indefinitely and must be put up for adoption if no suitable way can be arranged for them to live safely with their parents. Some California couples in wheelchairs have paid for full-time attendants and have successfully raised their children at home. But Callo and Rios have not found the necessary funds.