Wednesday, November 05, 2008

~ someone to count on ~

The child welfare advocates were against it. The judges were against it. Hell, we even had clergy speaking out against it. But somehow, Arkansas voters managed to pass Adoption/Foster Care Initiated Act 1. Yesterday I voted against both the lottery initiative and Act 1. The passing of the lottery did not particularly surprise me, but the passing of Act 1 has me floored.

The Arkansas Family Council is associated with the American Family Association, famous for producing such masterpieces as They’re Coming to Your Town. Together with other pro-family organizations, they work hard to protect the Christian citizens of this God-blessed country from the gays. Meanwhile, there are more than 500,000 children in U. S. foster care and somewhere between 50 and 70 million orphans worldwide. Of those millions, Pennington estimated that more than 25,000 orphans will be adopted internationally by Americans in 2005, with no more than 10,000 to 12,000 going to live in Bible-believing homes. By 2010, Pennington explained, the worldwide orphan population is expected to rise to 110 million.

I’m a bit biased. When my mother’s 3rd husband left (the first time… he would come and go several times over the course of several years), she tried hard to hold onto the home we loved, having just moved across country. She was able to find a renter to supplement the cost, who happened to be male. Amazingly, the house did not burn down from torrential fire and brimstone. I could go on, but I’ll allow this one example to suffice – and I think I turned out ok.

Granted, I was my mother’s biological child, but the implication that the only acceptable family to provide foster care is married, heterosexual couples is ridiculous when there are children out there with no one to care for them. Yes, the act stipulates that this applies only to cohabiting couples who are sexual partners, but, really, whose going to check that? (I’m sorry ma’am, but we’re going to have to observe you for 30 days to ensure that this is a purely platonic relationship…).

If Christians don’t want vulnerable children growing up in non-Christian or non-traditional families, then they best step up their efforts to take in these children rather than putting their energies into keeping willing people from giving them the love and care they need. And for that matter, how about pouring all of this energy into helping to reach out to those families who are faced with the decision or circumstances of placing a child in foster care in the first place? When I use to advocate for increased treatment beds for pregnant and parenting women in addiction recovery, it was not a popular issue. However, if those mothers can not complete successful recovery, they lose custody of their children who generally end up in the foster care system. What if we loved that mom through her hard journey, and helped make it possible for her to raise her own children? (And I do not pretend that it is an easy task, in fact it can be downright heartbreaking.)

How about loving our neighbors instead of demonizing them? That’s a start.


Rebekah said...

Yep. This morning I considered going on a crusade to every church in Little Rock that encouraged for Act 1. If I only covered every Christian church in Little Rock (there are 596 by the count of one web index) then I could say "Okay, you succeeded. Here are your 15 kids. Find 15 *married* *heterosexual* *Bible-believing fundamentalist* couples to foster them."

That's all it would take. Roughly 9,000 kids in foster care in the whole state. If each church in Little Rock alone fostered just 15 kids, the system would be empty of kids without homes. Regardless of the bigotry of many of them, it really is not an unrealistic feat to have every child in a home. We just need to clone Donna H. a few times.

Wanna join me on a speaking crusade? If we each did one church per Sunday it would only take 5 years.

Kimberly said...

Indeed... Donna H. and a few other couples I can think of are the only ones who could put their vote where their life was. I know that Hope for Orphans is working hard to find homes, I just don't think that it's very Christian to restrict homes when there is even a single child out there uncared for. If the Church would just concentrate on being the Church instead of mandating that the rest of society be the Church, we'd get a lot farther.

(Are you going to stay in the States to pursue your crusade?)

Jerusalem said...

When I heard the news I had rocks in my stomache. I cannot believe that this passed and I cannot - will not- believe that it will stick. It is just craziness. I have nothing more eloquant to say than that.

Capt. Flipout said...

I wish I were shocked. I wish we were better than this. I hope we may yet be.

Laura said...

I don't think you are taking into account the burden the state already does (and ought to) place on foster/adoption eligibility. Smoking, for example, can be disqualifying. Of course that represents a drastic exemption of otherwise qualified individuals, but this is weighed against the effects of second hand smoke. Children in homes were sexual partners are cohabitating have higher incidents of school problems, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug/alcohol abuse etc. So I'd say the state has more than enough grounds to require no cohabitation. That is not the same as a theology check. If cohabitation was shown to be as equally a stable environment for children as marriage then the case would be different.

Darcie said...

well said.

Sanyu said...

How many Christian married couples will willing take a troubled teen into their home? It might spoil their image as a good family. Those kids have too many problems. Of course I'm being sarcastic on that. I think as long as the child is not being abused in any way, one home is as good as the next, in taking in a child.
Does this mean that single people who are not cohabitating can no longer be foster parents. Sometimes they are the best ones.

jeanetta said...

Hear! Hear! Sister friend. I just heard on the news that there had been some confusion about the bill and that people actually voting for it thought they were votiong against it. The supporters of the bill were cheering on the confusion. Hmmmm are those the kind of people you really want in charge.