Do We Have to Amputate?

There’s been an update on the Maryland family threatened by Child Protective Services for allowing their children (10 and 6) to walk to & from a local park on their own. According to the Washington Post, CPS has concluded their initial investigation and determined that this was a case of “unsubstantiated child neglect.” You can check out Maryland’s legal definition of this disposition here, but in layman’s terms, this particular status means that while CPS couldn’t prove there was any abuse going on, the couldn’t rule it out either and thus will be keeping a file on the family for 5 years just in case.

Try as I might, I cannot see how this status legitimately applies. It seems designed for cases in which CPS agents found a number of red flags, but simply couldn’t find adequate information to either confirm or disprove abuse. It’s fair enough that such a status exists, but there do not seem to be any disputed facts or gray areas in the case of the Meitiv family. At this point, everyone in the country knows what they did and why they did it. It is absolutely absurd to consider what we now call “free range parenting” and what used to simply be called “parenting” a kind of neglect or abuse.

At the root of these situations is a dismissive view of the offices of mother and father. Modern statists seem to see biological parents as a kind of circumstantial accident (just like every other fact of biology.) In other words, proximity has placed fathers and mothers in the generic role of caretaker, but in principle, any other person can fill that generic role just as well. Accordingly, many statist bureaucrats at CPS look at the act of removing children from their parents to be something akin to changing out a set of replaceable parts. If one set of caretakers isn’t performing at what they deem to be optimal levels, why not ‘upgrade’ them? It’s a diabolically inhuman view of the family.

In reality, however, our children are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Parents don’t want to come home from the maternity ward at the hospital with a baby, they want to come home with their baby (and based on my own recent experience, hospitals go to great lengths to make sure that’s exactly what happens.) Likewise, when children are in distress, they don’t cry out for a generic caregiver, they cry out for a very specific mommy and daddy. There is nothing replaceable about parents.

In this human view, however, taking children away from their parents is not like swapping out your computer’s old video card for the latest and greatest. It is more like amputating a limb. There are extreme circumstances when the best medical option is to sever an arm or a leg, but it is never a good thing and always a last resort. You don’t do it because of a pulled muscle or because your leg is not as shapely you would like it to be; you do it because you will certainly die if you don’t. CPS should view seizing children with the same seriousness. There are circumstances when it is warranted. I recently read about a woman who starved her newborn to death because she was too busy using her milk in weird fetish videos. That would have been a legitimate reason to amputate. Whether or not you personally think its a good choice to let children take that kind of walk, no one with intact humanity could consider it worth amputating their parents.

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
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