And Another Thing…

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Reproductive Chaos and doubt

Monday night in my Child Welfare class we had a guest lecturer; a lawyer who specializes in child protection. She gave an informative (yet disturbing) presentation on how the law works (or doesn’t) to protect children. After telling us about a teen-aged girl who was impregnated by her father and a crack whore who had 4 children born by 4 different men (all 4 kids born addicted), she made the following statement:

“I am the biggest libertarian you will ever meet. But after 11 years of handling abuse cases I have come to believe that some people should not reproduce, and I believe that these people should be prevented from doing so.”

I think that she was speaking (mostly) in jest. Her comment has been eating away at me since she said it. Truth be told, some of the biggest challenges to my faith are some of the people that God allows to reproduce. Everybody knows that the environment that children grow up in has a profound effect on the adults they turn out to be. So why does God allow sterility/infertility in responsible, productive people who could provide stable, nurturing homes while people who couldn’t care for a goldfish manage to reproduce like rabbits?  I am not being elitist; I don’t believe that a person needs to be educated and/or wealthy to be a good parent. But we all know that criminals and damaged people don’t come out of a vacuum. And often (but not always) their parents played a part in who they turned out to be.

I realize that sometimes these things turn out for the good. A year ago two dear friends of mine adopted a baby from a teen-aged mother; a happy ending born from two bad situations (an unwanted pregnancy for the birth mother, the inability to conceive children for the couple). But it seems that these good outcomes are exceptions. Or maybe I’m just feeling cynical.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but this stuff weighs terribly on me sometimes. I am sharing it because, as I have said before, blogging is my substitute for therapy. A couple of questions for believers: What do you see in the world that challenges your faith? What do you do when your faith is challenged like this?

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Filed under: Faith and Religion, Politics, Rants, School, , , ,

12 Responses

  1. erinlcox says:

    Oh gosh, I could talk about this forever and probably have done so. I don’t know that many people even think about the ability to have children and whether it should be a right or a privilege until they’re personally faced with infertility or if they work directly within the social work system. But boy are there some people who should just not have children. Thanks to God alone, our birthmother had the maturity to realize that she was going to have to be the one to stop the cycle of violence, abuse and evil in her family. But that doesn’t happen all the time. In fact, there are currently 20 pregnant teens at Searcy High School alone (not counting the more rural, outlying schools in the county) — most of whom will choose to keep their baby and most of them were raised by teenage mothers. This isn’t to say that none of these girls will be good mothers, but right not they show no signs of making good choices. I know how difficult it is at 30 to be a good mom and make the best choices, I can’t imagine it at 15!

    All this complaining to say this, God is so much smarter than any of us (thankfully!) and while we’ll never understand his reasons for all the hurting children and families, we do know that he gave us the “gift” of free choice and it’s because of that choice that we’re even having to talk about this stuff. All of us just make some appauling decisions, some just make more lasting ones. And while I still sometimes want to scream at people I’ve seen in Walmart who are arguing whether they should put the diapers or the formula back so that they can buy cigarettes (true story), I know that both Tim and I consider Corban such a blessing and her being in our life provides us a direct, visible avenue to praise God.

    Thanks for writing such great, caring posts. You’re a credit to your profession!

  2. Kelly says:

    Ooh, you know I could go on and on about this one bro. I’ve worked with so many people who are either products of sad, destructive families or are engaged in creating a sad, destructive family, that I have felt and thought things like your guest speaker said many times. But the truth is, I don’t really believe that is the answer, it’s just a feeling born out of frustration. It’s hard to understand how people don’t see the damage they are doing to their children, and how they can ignore a child’s needs. Thankfully there are people out there who want to step in and help, it’s just unfortunate there so few. Every child deserves a chance, and so many are never going to get one. It’s so rare for a child from that kind of background to succeed without someone stepping in to help. Just think, if all the people wanting to sterilize the bad parents would shut up and try to help a child from a dysfunctional family, we might one day solve this problem as a society. But that won’t happen, because those kind of people just want to complain and give nothing to help fix the problem. Good post, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of replies you get.

  3. odgie says:

    Erin – 20 pregnant girls at one school in a town of 25,000. It boggles the mind.

    Kelly – I should have stated that I think that she was speaking mostly in jest, and I will edit my post accordingly. And you are right, we all need to step up a little bit. No civil society (or civil person) should stand for children starting their lives off under such deplorable circumstances.

  4. Katherine says:

    I spent quite a few months during my student teaching being mad at God for making children the product of an act that could be so horribly perverted. Spending eight hours a day in a KINDERGARTEN classroom where HALF the kids were crack babies was enough to test anyone’s faith.

    Finally, I just had to use their (my students’) situations as motivation for doing something to make a difference in their lives. It didn’t always make it any easier to handle, but I had to get past the cause of their situation and realize that God had put me there for a reason.

  5. I understand your question about why some parents who would love and cherish their children aren’t allowed to conceive and others who don’t understand the value (and miraculous nature) of children have a houseful of them! The only thing I have been able to figure out is this: God can truly be glorified by the life of one of His children who SHOULD have turned out to be a criminal or mentally ill but who rises out of the ashes of dysfunction and becomes a truly inspiring human being! My husband is such a person! He is an awesome husband and father…and now grandfather. His own father was an abusive alcoholic who abused his mentally ill mother. Don never heard his father say a personal word to him, and never heard him say the words every child needs to hear, “I love you!” But Don says those words to me and his boys every time we are together. His dad drank up every penny he made and hoarded food that should have been shared with his family. Don has worked hard for his family for over 32 years, and his extravagent generosity toward us is his weakness. I guess Don’s parents should have not been allowed to procreate had there been laws against such things, but I’m glad there were no such laws, because my children and I would have missed out on a most excellent husband, father, friend and Christian man!

  6. Trey Morgan says:

    Wow, amazing statement and what a concept. Can you imagine someone running for president adding this to his beliefs? He’d be laughed right out of town. BUT, is it all that amazing.

    I’ll give my two cents and try not to come off looking like a jerk. God gave us self-control. He didn’t give dogs self-control. That’s why we keep dogs in fences and in kennels. But when I read stories like the one about and others I wonder if some people don’t need to be kept in a kennel 🙂 I read recently that NFL running back Travis Henry has 9 children by 9 different women. Wow, and he’s a hero to our children?

    Amazing

  7. odgie says:

    Katherine – Your comment reminds me of the story about two men who were discussing innocent suffering. One of them asked, “Where is God?” The other one replied, “Where is man?”

    Jeri – I had no idea that Don came out of such a negative background. It is a testament to him and to God that he broke the cycle, made something of himself, and did right by his family. I don’t know Don that well, but his attitude and conduct have always indicated a commitment to his God, his family, and his church. Don is proof that it is possible for honorable, decent people to come out of nightmarish circumstances. Thank you for responding.

    Trey – No, you don’t sound like a jerk. And you are right, the concept of regulating reproduction is absurd. I feel the need to re-emphasize that the attorney’s statement was tongue-in-cheek. You are right that all of us need to use our discernment and self-control more. Its just so sad that when we fail to use those traits, it often comes out on our children. I suppose that is where the rest of us need to step in and help.

    Good comments everyone! Thanks for stopping by and remember that you are always welcome here.

  8. odgie says:

    P.S. Trey, your point about Travis Henry is well-taken. We need to stop making heroes out of people based solely on talent. A wiser man than I once said that talent is as common as table salt. What is not common is the ability to use one’s talent with honor and discipline.

  9. Andy says:

    To me, perhaps the only thing scarier than certain people reproducing would be giving someone else the authority to decide who is qualified to reproduce.

  10. hoverfrog says:

    My partner works in an area of social care and education and purely from the things she tells me I must concur with the lawyer. I’d probably go further though. Rather than limiting the right of certain elements to breed I’d propose limited everyone’s right to breed. Then allow those who demonstrate parental responsibility and ability to reproduce.

    Of course, if anyone tried to introduce such a draconian law I’d almost certainly speak up against it.

    The fact remains that millions of people are trapped in a cycle of abuse purely because no-one will intervene. We have parents who have never worked raising children who receive no education and will never work. We have a society that supports an underclass that we choose to ignore rather than address.

    Unlike you I do not think that she was speaking in jest although perhaps the joke is on us rather than on those she was talking about.

  11. odgie says:

    Hoverfrog,

    Welcome and thanks for weighing in. You are certainly right about the cyclical nature of the problem. There are some trying to intervene (such as your partner) but there are too few of them and far too many perpetuating the cycle (it’s an individual and systemic problem). I think that in my next post I will offer some suggestions and open the floor for other suggestions. Feel free to srop by anytime.

  12. jdproctor says:

    I agree with Andy.

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