Justin Harris is a State Representative in Arkansas. He runs a faith-based pre-school (which is paid for largely by government funds, even though Harris is very much an anti-government spending kind of guy), he has three biological sons, and in March of 2013, he and his wife adopted two girls, one of whom had a history of sexual abuse. And then six months later, in October of 2013, Justin Harris gave those two girls to someone else. He discovered that adopting older children isn’t a fairly tale, but that children who’ve been through abuse and neglect and are removed from their biological parents, even when that’s the best thing that could happen – that these children have baggage. And he wasn’t prepared for the baggage.
Perhaps Harris really bought into the fairly tale. Perhaps he thought that these two little girls (the older girl was just six years old) would look up to him with big, doe-eyes, and thank him profusely for being their rescuer, and everything would be happy-ever-after. Yeah. That’s not life. (you might want to read my previous post on 50 Shades of Boring for more on this). So after having the big ceremony, and making a big deal about giving these girls a forever home…he GAVE THESE CHILDREN AWAY. Oh, excuse me. He re-homed them. Re-homing. That sounds so much better. Like re-gifting.
OK, here’s the thing, though. Children are not hostess gifts! Seriously. They’re PEOPLE. We are completely human from the moment we’re born. We aren’t property.
In the book 1984 the people use newspeak. It’s a way of using language to mean the opposite of things – a way for the government to control the people. Good is bad. Bad is good. Euphemisms abound. Rehoming – that’s newspeak. It sounds so gentle. Rehoming – oh, that’s not so bad – it’s just a new home, right? Um, no.
I am a foster parent. And an adoptive parent. And a birth parent, and a step-parent. I know that sometimes, no matter how much we’d prefer it, sometimes, children have to be removed from a home. For their own safety. Sometimes, Human Services can work successfully with the family, and the children can be reunited with the parents. That’s a wonderful outcome, and one we generally hope for. But sometimes that’s just not possible. And when it’s not possible, children deserve a safe and loving forever home. Forever.
Sometimes, sometimes, an adoption doesn’t work out. Sometimes a child has such severe mental illness that the child is a danger to the family, and an adoption has to be terminated for everyone’s safety. These situations are rare. However, there are similar situations with biological children. Occasionally, children are so severely mentally ill, that they have to be removed from their biological families. For everyone’s safety. This is not the same thing as giving up on a child after six months and giving that child away to someone else. In these instances, the children are getting intense medical care.
Justin Harris and his wife made a commitment and then turned their backs on two young girls. They abandoned their own children – because adopted children aren’t different from biological children. My adopted children are my own children. They abandoned these girls and gave them to a man who then sexually abused the older girl.
At six years old she’s already learned that people don’t keep their promises, that nothing is forever, that family means nothing, and that no one is safe. Well, that should set her up for life.
But at least Justin Harris doesn’t have to do any of the hard work of parenting now.
Do I sound judgmental? Well, I am. I’m all for adoption. I’m all for being a foster parent. But don’t commit to this if you’re not sure. Don’t tell a child I’ll be your parent forever and I’ll always love you if you can’t mean it. Children will test every limit. It’s up to the grown-ups to be…grown-ups. Forever means forever. Rehoming means…abandonment.
That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.