Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: foster children

“Who’s Your Dad?” “Tom, Dick, and Harry”

by Dustin Schwanger

California state senator Mark Leno (D) has introduced a bill, SB 1476, that would allow the state to recognize more than two parents for a child. According to Leno, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.” What sort of “families” has this bill been created for?

The reason for the bill stems from a case in which a lesbian couple were both legal parents of a child. One parent was sent to jail, and the other was hospitalized. When the biological father attempted to take custody of the child the state denied him because the state, by law, can only legally recognize two parents. The child was put into foster care.

This is, obviously, a tragedy, a tragedy that this bill would seek to rectify in the future. However, the problem with this bill is that it seeks to solve a legal issue through providing a solution that changes the framework of society. The foundation of society is the strong and stable family consisting of a father, mother, and children. Either tragedy or maleficence sometimes necessitates one parent to assume the roles of both or grandparents or other close relatives to care for the child.

Leno’s vision of the twenty-first-century family, however, seeks to include as parents many different people related and not related to the child, thus fundamentally changing the definition of family—that is, any Tom, Dick, and/or Harry will eventually be able to be a legal parent to a child.Family now, if this bill is passed, becomes whatever a judge wants it to be.

What are the consequences to such a move? In effect, this bill, if society as a whole follows after its lead, has the possibility of ending the institution of the family. If we allow society to redefine family as anything anyone wants it to be, then family effectively means nothing.

Although Leno may have good intentions in this bill (I’m sure he’s not singlehandedly trying to destroy the family), it must be stopped. The trajectory is set. If it is not changed, if there is not a line past which society refuses to move, then society will be unalterably damaged through the inevitable destruction of the family.

Camp To Belong

by Emily Smith

I couldn’t imagine a life without my siblings. Although they weren’t my best friends from my early stages of life, I have come to love and appreciate them for the people they are. Unfortunately, there are children who grow up without sibling support in foster homes across the United States. Lynn Price, a former foster child, has changed this for many children. In a New York Times article she stated, “I realized that my sister and I had no memories of when we were kids. There were no memories of birthday parties, sharing clothes, helping each other with homework, or talking about boys. I thought about the kids who will miss out on something that is so critical to their growth and feelings of unconditional love.”

Reading her account moved me to understand why she took action. My sister and I shared closets, stealing each other’s clothes; this often resulted in yelling at each other when we got home from school and had realized that one of us had taken the other’s favorite shirt and unwittingly spilled something on it. These confrontations were all part of the bonding experience; although we hated each other sometimes, we could not stop loving each other. The experience of growing up together usually ensures a lifelong connection of friendship between siblings.

To help establish that connection between siblings who aren’t able grow up together, Price founded “Camp To Belong” in 1995, which reunites siblings who have been separated in foster care. Statistics show that 75 percent of children placed in foster care are separated from their siblings. “Camp To Belong” is described as “an international non-profit organization dedicated to reuniting siblings placed in separate foster homes and other out-of-home care for events of fun, emotional empowerment and sibling connection.” There are currently nine of these camps that reunite foster siblings. During this week, siblings are able to get to know each other; they make crafts and are given gift cards to buy each other birthday presents. They also ask each other questions about favorite sports and hobbies.

Many of us are lucky enough that we don’t have to ask those questions. We are able to grow up with our siblings in the same household with our parents. For those who aren’t as fortunate, Lynn Price has created an amazing organization to benefit the relationships of siblings. Too often I take my siblings for granted; reading about “Camp to Belong” gave me perspective and a deeper gratitude for the experiences I shared with my siblings.

You can read Lynn Price’s autobiography here: http://www.lynnprice.com/biography.html

Or visit Camp to Belong’s official website: http://camptobelong.org/