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KEEPING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT

12 March 2006

An acquaintance, who is a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, sends me links to articles from time to time.   They usually upset me because her sensibilities are in line with mine and because the world is becoming more and more depressing.  Many (perhaps most) of the articles she sends have to do with new and wonderful decisions made by the Catholic church.

The link she sent me yesterday made me furious.

It seems that the Bishops of Boston have decided to end the Catholic church's century-old adoption program.   Why?  Because the state now permits adoption by gay and lesbian singles and couples and according to Pope Benedict (grrrrr), "allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development."

Apparently it's OK to molest children and hide the criminals behind the pope's skirts for decades, moving pedophiles from one opportunity to another to keep ahead of the law, paying hush money to the victims who dare to speak out, but taking children out of the impersonal system and putting them in homes of their own where they are wanted and will be loved is "doing violence to the children."

The continuing duplicity of this religion infuriates me.

But then you knew that.

Now, I have an assignment for you.  Stop reading this page and go here and read the excerpt from a book called The Martian Child (to be released as a major motion picture some time late this year, starring John Cusack).  The Martian Child is the award-winning story written by my friend David Gerrold, a semi-autobiographical work about his adoption of Dennis, the boy who claimed to be a Martian.

1992Sean.jpg (191561 bytes)Dennis (he has since changed his name) never really claimed to be a Martian, but David is a science fiction writer and there had to be a touch of science fiction in it.  Most of the rest of the story is true, including the hair-raising facts about Dennis' 8 year upbringing, the cruelty he suffered, the failed attempts to put him in foster homes, including foster care where he was physically abused.  His being labeled "unadoptable" at age 8.

David had been wanting to adopt a child and saw this photo in a book at an adoption faire.  He knew he had to meet this kid.   The book talks about the hoops you jump through as a gay man before being allowed to adopt.  But ultimately, Dennis came to live with him.

The Martian Child is now 21.  He and David have had their ups and downs, but David made a commitment to this kid and gave him a chance for a life he never would have had when he was labeled "unadoptable" by the system and dumped into a group home. 

If the Catholic Church had its way, Dennis would have languished in a group home until he turned 18, when he would have been turned out with some money and a wish for a good life.  A kid filled with so much anger for the terrible things that had been done to him all of his life would have been a danger to himself and to society.

Instead he had a loving dad who happened to be gay who was able to give him an eduction, to teach him how to live in society, who gave him a great sense of social responsibility, and most of all, a lot of love.

But Pope Benedict feels that would be considered "doing violence" to this child.

Other religious groups in Boston have solved the moral conflict of permitting gay parents to adopt with the beliefs of their religion about homosexuality by moving the adoption part of their work to a wing which is separate from the doctrinal part of their organization.

"The adoption program at Jewish Children and Family Services of Greater Boston calls itself "a nonsectarian agency" and places children with gay individuals and couples, despite controversy over homosexuality within some Jewish denominations," according to adoption resources director Betsy Hochberg.

At Lutheran Social Services of New England, spokeswoman Martha Lindberg Mann said, "We're a social service agency, not a church body. We know our parent bodies have firm positions not to ordain practicing gay persons, but on this issue, that's got nothing to do with the welfare of children." [emphasis mine]

But that's not good enough for the Catholics.

Adoption specialists say the risks for children are real [now that the Catholic church will be ending its role in the adoption process]: Foster children could face longer waits in an already backlogged system, and specialists say other agencies will have to scramble to pick up the Catholic Charities' caseload. Whether they can replace its network of seasoned, caring social workers is another question.

"Catholic Charities has really been a gold standard in providing adoption services to children in the welfare system for a long time, so this is a tragedy," said Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. "This is a tragedy for kids."

"It's a shame, because it is certainly going to mean that fewer children from foster care are going to find permanent homes."

You go, Catholics.  Stick to your guns.

And damn the welfare of the kids.

That seems to be the church policy anyway.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

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3/01/06