Category: Family Issues

foster childGenerally speaking, social services do not remove children from their homes as a first choice. Most have family programs that work with parents to resolve issues with parenting skills, nutrition, education, addiction issues and so on. A child has to be in imminent danger for them to be removed from their parents’ care.

A lot of kids are in imminent danger.

Not only that: the social workers who must work with these families are overwhelmed. Joseph Turner reports:

In my home state of Indiana, an employee of Child Protective Services (CPS) recently sued the state over the fact that CPS workers’ caseloads are in overwhelming excess of the legal requirements. State law mandates that employees should serve no more than 17 families at one time. In some counties, the average is closer to 50.

This stems from a massive increase in reports of abuse and neglect in recent years, up 81 percent from 2009. Caseload limits seem reasonable enough, except you can’t legislate supply and demand. The state can’t keep up with its child-abuse problem, so caseworkers are dangerously overloaded. Morale is low, turnover is high, and kids are suffering.

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Photo by Raymond van Mil

Photo by Raymond van Mil

Five adults (three men, two women) in the Netherlands are having a child together, and plan to raise said child together. I know this is a little tricky so let me explain. Jaco and Sjoerd (those are the guys) and Daantje and Dewi (the women) are all homosexual. They’ve known each other for 10 years. Then there is Sean, who is the third person in Jaco and Sjoerd’s relationship. They would marry him, but cannot legally.

The five folks want a child. So (and if you want to read exactly how they did it, you can, but for now let’s just leave it at this) Daantje is now carrying “their” baby.

Five parents with equal rights and responsibilities, divided across two households—those are the terms of the agreement that we all signed and had notarized,” says Dewi. They had to do this because, legally speaking, the Netherlands isn’t quite ready for multi-parenthood just yet. A child can still only have a maximum of two legal parents and, in a marriage, those parents are usually the biological mother and her husband or wife. However, the biological mother is also allowed to appoint someone else as the second legal parent.

The laws surrounding parental rights have improved significantly for gay parents in the Netherlands over the past few years, but the issue of multi-parenthood is still a complicated one. In the case of this particular five-parent family, Jaco has taken on the role of legal parent number two—replacing Dewi, who initially held the position because of her marriage to Daantje.

“We wanted to make sure that there was one legal parent in both households, because we’re splitting the upbringing equally,” explains Dewi.

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Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College, wrote an article published on Crisis Magazine‘s website today demonstrating that although the secular left has championed Laudato Si’, the text goes beyond environmental issues to show the pope’s deep commitment to family and marriage.

The secular left, of course, loves this encyclical. As I write, the farthest reaches of the left, People’s World, house organ of Communist Party USA, has two articles singing atheistic hosannas to the bishop of Rome. This has become common at People’s World. The successor to the Soviet-directed Daily Worker is a vigorous champion of this pope. There truly has never been a pope that communists have embraced like Pope Francis. Believe me, I research this, I know. …

That brings me to the reason I’m writing today. I write with encouragement to faithful Catholics who understand that the elephant in the global living room right now—especially in the West—is not carbon emissions or fossil fuels but family and marriage. And in that area, here’s the crucial point: this pope has been superb and seems to be growing steadily stronger. It is the main issue, the issue of our time, and it’s the main issue for this pope.

Read the full text of Kengor’s article here.

slackerWhat does it meant to be happy, and is our culture getting that all wrong? Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, thinks that may be the case.

A prolific author and speaker, Spitzer explores what happiness means in his latest book, Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts. First, we seek happiness in external material possessions. This can range from acquiring that sought-after gadget or enjoying a fabulous meal. There’s nothing wrong with this type of happiness, but it’s fleeting.

The second level of happiness relies on self-awareness.

We can actually be aware of being aware of our awareness, because of that we create our own inner world, inner universe. You juxtapose it to the outer universe,” he said. “You want the locus of control to be in you, not outside, so you want to be better … we’d like to be smarter or we’d like to be more athletic.”

It’s at this phase — one that involves the ego — that people begin to compare themselves to others, competing and finding worth in trumping their peers. It’s something that Spitzer said can “become an end of itself” — and he believes that it’s rampant in the current culture.

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adoptionEvery year about 400,000 children spend time in our nation’s foster care system, with roughly 100,000 eligible for adoption. Yet despite this urgent need for parents, note Sarah Torre and Ryan T. Anderson, “various states have adopted policies that would require faith-based providers to place children with same-sex couples, in violation of some agencies’ deeply held beliefs that children deserve a mom and a dad—effectively forcing these agencies out of adoption and foster care service.”

In a refreshing change from this trend against religious providers, the Michigan Legislature has approved legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies with state contracts the right to refuse to participate in referrals that violate their beliefs:
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Children-of-VietnamFor the past hundred years, a common worry about population was that we’d soon have more people than the Earth could sustain. Today, we have the opposite concern: In the near future, there may not be enough people to support an increasingly aging population.

To simply maintain its current population, a country needs the average number of children born to women in their country (over her lifetime) to be 2.1. Few industrialized countries come close to that replacement rate: Ireland (2.0), Australia (1.8), Canada (1.6), Japan (1.56), China (1.54), Spain (1.5), Germany (1.4), Poland (1.3), South Korea (1.2), etc.

To solve the problem of decreasing populations, says Eric Teetsel and Andrew T. Walker, our cultures must rediscover the importance of children.
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balence2Three of the most basic principles of economics are that people are price-sensitive, risk-averse, and that they respond to incentives.

If you raise the price of a good or service people will, in general, tend to buy less (price-sensitive). If you give a person a choice between a certain outcome (“I’ll pay you $50 for nothing”) or a higher payoff on an uncertain outcome (“I’ll pay you $100 or nothing based on a coin-flip”), they’ll generally take the less risky option (risk-averse). And if you give people a way to get a lower price without any risk, they’ll generally prefer that option (response to incentives).

Each of these principles seems intuitive, even obvious. Yet for some reason when you combine them to create a public policy people are shocked to find it can have “unintended consequences.

Take, for example, so-called “family-friendly policies” such as employer-mandated childcare, paid maternity leave, or requirements to allow full-time employees to work part-time work when they have a baby. Here is the opening of a recent New York Times article titled, “When Family-Friendly Policies Backfire.”
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motherhoodHappy Mother’s Day weekend from Herman Bavinck, who poetically summarizes the work, beauty, and glory of motherhood in The Christian Family:

[The wife and mother] organizes the household, arranges and decorates the home, and supplies the tone and texture of home life; with unequaled talent she magically transforms a cold room into a cozy place, transforms modest income into sizable capital, and despite all kinds of statistical predictions, she uses limited means to generate great things.

Within the family she preserves order and peace, because she knows the character of each person and knows how to supply the needs of each. She protects the weak, tends the sick, comforts the sorrowing, sobers the proud, and restrains the strong. Far more than the husband, she lives along with all her children, and for the children she is the source of comfort amid suffering, the source of counsel amid need, the refuge and fortress by day and by night. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and her children call her blessed [Prov. 31:10–28]…

For husband and wife marriage is meaningful and is for them a means for fulfilling their earthly and spiritual calling. But just as marriage is to be recommended in general, so too a marriage blessed with children is what may generally be described as a customary, normal marriage. By father, mother, and child the family is built according to the aesthetic principle of beautiful symmetry.

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babygirlsIf you were asked to name the technologies whose proliferation inadvertently threatens the human race, what would you include? Landmines? Assault rifles? Nuclear warheads?

Add this one to your list: the sonogram machine.

The widespread use of sonogram technology—coupled with liberal abortion laws—has made it easier than ever for women to identify the sex of their child so that those without a Y chromosome can be killed before they’re even born.

The effects of this war on baby girls can be clearly seen in the changes in sex ratios at birth. As demographer Nicholas Eberstadt explains, there is a “slight but constant and almost unvarying excess of baby boys over baby girls born in any population.” The number of baby boys born for every hundred baby girls, which is so constant that it can “qualify as a rule of nature,” falls along an extremely narrow range along the order of 103, 104 or 105. On rare occasions it even hovers around 106.

These sex ratios vary slightly based on ethnicity. For example, rates in the U.S. in 1984 were as follows: White: 105.4; Black: 103.1; American Indian: 101.4; Chinese: 104.6; and Japanese 102.6. Such variations, however, remain small and fairly stable over time.

But Eberstadt finds that during the last generation, the sex ratio at birth in some parts of the world have become “completely unhinged.” Consider this graph he provides, showing the provinces in China in 2000:
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mum_baby_reading“One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.”

“Why are families a good thing exactly?”

“We should accept that lots of stuff that goes on in healthy families—and that our theory defends—will confer unfair advantage.”

One of my co-workers thought he was reading an article from the satirical website The Onion. Alas, that is not the case. No, these are quotes from philosopher Adam Swift, who believes we must acknowledge the “fact” that children growing up in an intact, mom-and-pop family have an “unfair advantage” to those children who don’t. Even worse, he thinks we should set things aright. (more…)