Saturday, April 30, 2005

Florida Foster Care Fiasco

Dear All,
This story falls into the category of: Are you kidding me?

Here are the facts as reported in the :
- 13 year old girl
- neglected or abused by parents
- in foster care
- repeated runaway
- now pregnant
- talked with case worker
- cannot afford to support a baby
- wants abortion
- psychologist finds no mental problems
- Florida judge says no

And here is the "Are you kidding me?" bit:
The state of Florida is trying to argue that the girl is not able to make an informed medical decision because she is too immature. So they are going to force her to become a mother. Because she is too immature to decide to have an abortion. The logic must be, "You don't need as much maturity to be a mother as you do in order to decide not to be one." Excuse me?!?

But this is directly counter to the argument that anti-abortion activists ususally make. Usually we hear, "Since you were mature enough to decide to have unprotected sex, you must be mature enough to accept the consequences of that choice." Apparantly that line of reasoning wasn't working out. So someone decided to switch from the "You are mature enough" argument to the "You are too immature" argument. Both of these arguments, by the way, are grounded in nothing more than a political agenda, neither in compassion for the unborn baby or the mother, nor a desire to celebrate the abundant life God gives.

What is my reaction to all of this? Well, my reaction is that more Christian families should should open their homes for foster care and adoption, and states should do everything possible to make it easier for people to adopt. Christians are called to a life of compassion and grace, not moralizing and judgement. The
list of children waiting for adoption is long. I mean, it is long. I wish there was as much passion in the adoption debate as there is in the abortion debate. If we are truly "pro-life," we are going to make is as easy as possible for healthy families to adopt and provide foster care for children in need.

A 13 year old girl in foster care wants an abortion because she knows she cannot be a mother for this baby. What is the Christian response? We can choose to be a "NO" or a "YES" for this girl. We say either "NO abortion for you" and slam the door in her face, or perhaps we say "YES, I will welcome your baby into my home and care for her or him as my own child," and open the door to the rest of her life.

L'chaim, Andy B.


Anonymous said...


You're right that this story raises some interesting issues, for sure.

Legally, a 13-year-old girl * cannot * have consented to sex (unprotected or otherwise). This pregnancy is the result of statutory rape, at best, unless Florida's age of consent is a lot lower than I think-- whether physical violence was involved or not, which the story does not report.

Nor can a thirteen-year-old legally manage her own healthcare. Her guardian (her parents, or in this case, the state) must do so. That part's right.

"She's not mature enough to decide" is true (under law) about a lot of things. It explains why the decision rests with her guardian. It does not explain why the decision should be anything in particular.

If the state remains her guardian until the child is born, the child will *certainly* be removed, to some other foster care setting. In no case is anyone likely to require (or allow) her to act as mother to an infant, either alone or with a support system.

Surely she is under a great deal of pressure in opposite directions. The pressure to carry this pregnancy to term (and "give up" the child, to adoption, or to the foster care system, which she knows too well) has to be compared to the pressure to erase this event by aborting.

Sounds to me like you side with the state; if they are requiring her to give birth, her child will become available for adoption. And if it is healthy and white, perhaps it will be adopted before it has spent six or seven years in nine or ten homes.

One way that each of us can affect cases like this is to sign on with a local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) known in some states as Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). It's volunteer work requiring some hours of training. A volunteer is assigned one case at a time; one child in the foster care system. The volunteer does in-depth interviewing of everyone who deals with the child, listening to impressions and stories, and forms an opinion of what will best serve the interests of the child. The judge relies heavily on that opinion when making decisions about the child's care. It's a small but powerful way to make a difference.

-- Laura

Andy B. said...

This is a story that shows just how badly the state is failing in terms of foster care. Check out this blogger's comment:
He writes, "The question is - What the HELL kind of protective custody was this girl in that she could disappear for one month, come back preganant and the most important question for those who were in charge of her - is whether she could terminate the pregnancy."
Nod, nod, nod.
- Andy B.

Anonymous said...


the way for a woman to get permission to have an abortion (before it was broadly legal) was generally to prove that she DID have psychological problems-- thus finding that this girl has none very reasonably leads to denying her request. Creepy, but not new.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that people of faith should be opening their homes to children as adoptive or foster parents. but, I dont think that fully addresses the issue of whether or not this girl should be allowed to have an abortion. I dont think there is an easy answer to the question but still this girl will have to live with the decision someone else makes for her. Amy