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Just forget it ever happened

Government-fetishists are always trying to justify their demands for ever-bigger state by claiming that only the state can ride to the rescue of the public to correct what they call ‘market failures’.

So, who is going to come riding to the rescue to put this right?

Thousands of parents who had children taken away from them on the evidence of the controversial paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow will not have them returned.

Ministers are to review as many as 5,000 civil cases of families affected over the past 15 years by Prof Meadow’s now-discredited theory of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. This accused mothers of harming their children to draw attention to themselves.

Many mothers say that they have been vindicated in their insistence that they were wrongly accused and now want their children back. However, Margaret Hodge, the minister for children, has ruled out any widespread return.

Mrs Hodge said that the exact number of civil cases where Prof Meadow’s theory had been used to remove children from mothers was unknown, but could run into “thousands or even tens of thousands”.

She added, however: “If a miscarriage of justice was made 10 or 15 years ago, what is in the child’s interest now? If the adoption order was made on the back of Meadow’s evidence and that was 10 years ago, what is in the real interest of the child? If they were taken as babies the only parent they know is the adopted one. It is incredibly difficult. It is a really tough call to make.

“The sort of families that are coming forward are heartbroken families. But if the child was adopted at birth the sensible thing to do is to let it stay. As children’s minister my prime interest has to be the interests of the child.”

I would be willing to wager that the ‘prime interest’ of Margaret Hodge is Margaret Hodge.

As for the thousands of parents who may have had their children abducted by the state, well, tough titties. Live with it.

What the government puteth asunder, let no man join together again.

34 comments to Just forget it ever happened

  • This is truly horrifying.

    I am reminded of something I read at The Anti-idiotarian Rottweiler… What is the difference between the child protective services and a rottweiler? The dog might bring your child back.

    It wasn’t until my friend became the mother of a rough and tumble set of twin boys that I realized just how terrible the fear of the state taking your children away can be. She is terrified that the boys will be taken away if she brings them to the ER after some misadventure of youth (ie trying to ‘fly’ from the top bunk). Some friends say that she is being ‘irrational’ in her fear but stories like this make it very understandable.

  • Jason Bontrager

    I’ll probably be crucified for this, but I think the Minister has a good point. Yes the parents were shafted, but at this point can that justify (further) traumatizing the children? If the kids were just taken away within the last few years, that’s one thing. But if they’ve grown up with their adoptive parents and don’t know their birth parents, then from their point of view any ‘reunion’ will amount to kidnapping and imprisonment for someone else’s mistake.

    Certainly parents should be reunited in some way with their lost children (and well compensated for their emotional trauma), but a full return of custody should depend on how long the children have been away IMO. “How long” is too long is, of course, a debatable point.

  • Jason,

    We’re not into crucifying people round here. We welcome all comments provided they are not abusive and there is no ‘party line’ to trip you up.

    Actually I do not disagree with you. If an infant is taken from its natural parents and brought up by others for 10 years then it is impractical and probably cruel to then rip it away from the only family it knows.

    But that does not redress the original harm done. In fact, the original harm cannot be redressed at all. What I really want to do is to rub this kind of thing in the faces of those people who claim that markets and civil society are fragile and prone to failure while ‘big caring government’ can be trusted.

  • This is NOT a tough decision.

    An adopted child who comes to understand what being adopted means, the adopted child will usually want to find his or her REAL father and REAL mother. People who think like this woman usually try to prevent this from happening by closing the case file.

    The best thing for ANY adopted child is to know his or her OWN ancestry to carry on the bloodline and family heritage.

    This woman should have her offspring removed from her care, have the offsprings’ names changed, and put an end to her ancestry and heritage. And all who think like her.

    I do not know who this woman is, but it is a sad state of affairs when this kind of person holds an office of public trust.

  • There was only one comment when I first started writing my comment.

    After reading the second and third comment, it is apparent you want to continue to punish the RIGHTFUL legitimate parents who have done NOTHING wrong by continuing to depriving them of their offspring.

    The amount of time the adopted child is with the foster parents is irrelevant. Offspring are the property, and under the care and responsibility of the legitimate parents until the age of 18, period, unless there has been a case of neglect, abandonment, or abuse committed by the legitimate parents.

    Foster parents or adopted children have no rights when the case against the legitimate parents has been declared null and void from its inception, or where no case ever existed.

  • Timothy: Children may be the responsibility of parents but that does not legitimately make them the parent’s property.

  • HitNRun

    This “As children’s minister my prime interest has to be the interests of the child.” quote is typical of the blood boiling, words-fail-as-long-as-you’re-still-breathing vileness that accompanies an assumption that there is such a thing as a child’s “best interests,” which can be observed and acted on by the state in any case less than proven violent abuse that clearly endangers the child’s physical health.

    As for the restoration issues themselves, (in other words, after you’ve put these cretins who play Bureaucrat Patty-Cake with the most deeply held instinct in the human psyche to a grisly death) you do have to take the child into account. Not as that Hodge thing suggests (using their destroyed lives to shield further loss of face) but rather so you’re not forcing a child to embrace another set of parents. If the child and biological parents are in agreement, there should be no debate- unfortunately, this is the price you pay as a foster parent.

    One place I must emphasize agreement with Piercy is with disclosure. You do NOT funk around with confidentiality in cases of adoption. It is both the height of arrogance, and demonstrably and inarguably incorrect in both procedure and presumption, to assume the best thing for any person is to hide their roots so as not to cause undue emotional stress.

  • So lets just say a child is kidnapped by a criminal from its parents as an infant and sold on the black market to a couple whom cannot concieve. These parents give the child a good loving home with everything the child needs to grow into a well adjusted productive adult. But before then, say when this child is 12 years old, the truth is learned, the real parents discovered. Since those parents gave the child a good home is it then wrong to return this child to its rightful parents? Now if the state takes a child under invalid circumstances as mentioned in this post does it really matter if the child is in a good home or not? Dont the parents have the ultimate right to care for and love thier child. Kidnapping by the state or by criminals is still kidnapping in this persons opinion.

  • ema

    “Ministers are to review as many as 5,000 civil cases of families affected over the past 15 years by Prof Meadow’s now-discredited theory of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy.”

    The FDBP (Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy) has not been discredited. It’s odd that the article gets such a crucial fact wrong.

    (If you have any links to the contrary, please share. This is not my specialty, so I might have missed a recent development. However, a quick literature search reveals nothing. I even checked out the Mothers Against… site and couldn’t find any supporting articles.)

    You can find a quick review of FDBP here

  • Lee

    Dear Jason, in the interests of promoting a fair and reasonable dialogue may I sincerely wish you a lingering painful death. You may gain some enlightenment into what these parents have gone through.

  • Guy Herbert

    Sometimes, just sometimes, proverbs are true: two wrongs don’t make a right. That this truth puts Margaret Hodge on the right side of an argument for once is purely coincidental, and any amount of disgust aroused by the minister shouldn’t blind us in discussing her policy.

    To call for yet more arbitrary and distressing state intervention in real people’s lives to “correct” state errors is not just inhumane, it is tantamount to a belief in the state as fairy godmother with a duty to promote “right” outcomes without regard for the fair treatment of individuals. The argument that adopted children must be restored to their birth-parents because the parents have suffered treats children as mere instruments their parents’ emotional well-being, not as people themselves.

    I’m not advocating an utilitarian calculus that weighs the potential pain of child and adoptive parents against that of the birth-parents. I’m saying what’s done is done.

    We should be vigilant however. What the state mustn’t be allowed to get away with, and I greatly fear Hodge is preparing the way for, is a blanket ban on reopening such cases using the excuse of protecting the best interests of those children who have been lucky enough to be happily adopted. What’s at stake is the paradoxically named and institutionally wicked institution of local authority “care”, and the power of supervision of social services departments over all parents.

    There are not only the “Munchausen’s” cases, but the thousands of spurious incest and “Satanic abuse” cases, and many, many more less classifiable examples where the state has deemed parents inadequate. Re-opening doubtful cases may put the arbitrary powers in question. Hodge cannot allow the powers to be questioned. It is apparent to all outside the institutions she commands that a child needs to be in verifiably serious danger to be worse off with its parent than with the guaranteed bullying and neglect (and high risk of worse) in a state children’s home, but that the worst, most dangerous, parents are the least likely to submit to social services’ supervision.

  • Lorenzo

    I think the point is that the parents who have had their children unjustly taken away from them have rights! Their rights had earlier effectively been suspended by the state on account of their supposed abuse of their children. When the state’s case against these parents is showed to wrong their rights then should be fully restored. That is the only argument that counts otherwise there are no immutable rights that cannot be taken away from us by the state.

    The government has no authority, statutory or otherwise; to continue to deny its citizens their rights, i.e. return of the children in this case, once the original justification has gone away. This may infact harm said children all over again but if a government action is not reversed after it is shown to be based on wrong information/discredited theories then the government no longer needs to justify its actions. I believe that that sort of think is generally referred to as totalitarian government.

  • John Elliot

    Spare a thought for those Argentinian children who were taken from their mothers and then adopted. Perhaps they have grown up in loving homes only to find later their birth mothers were murdered. How could anyone ever come to terms with that knowledge?

  • amos

    The state will never be capable of actually “fixing” this enormous human tragedy. Justice and fairness will never be served in most, if not all, of these cases. Reviewing the cases one by one is a given but will take years.

    Meanwhile, the courses that seems to offer the greatest chance of attaining a small amount of justice while disrupting the children’s lives the least is to:
    (1.) Let those children who were removed from their homes, and had already bonded with their blood parents have the choice of returning.
    (2.) Let the children who were adopted as infants know of their birth parents existence and allow the birth parents to visit the child if they recognize the rights of the adoptive parents and will cooperate with them.
    If the blood parents have been actually convicted of child abuse, they should not be allowed to visit the child, or the child return home until a determination is made.

    In any case, the psychological and physical well being the the children should be put ahead of the parent’s concerns.

  • Julian Morrison

    What’s with all this “make this, enforce that” blather? I the child has lived 10 years since adoption, they’re likely a teenager or nearly so. Ask them, dammit!

  • R C Dean

    In any case, the psychological and physical well being the the children should be put ahead of the parent’s concerns.

    I often hear the above claim made, but have never seen it justified, so I ask a semi-rhetorical question:

    Why? Both are human beings, neither has done any wrong, shouldn’t both be should be equal in the eyes of the law? If the kid has a mild preference for his foster parents, and the birth parents have an intense desire to raise their own child, then this rule would seem to me to lead to the wrong result – denying the parent’s intense desire to satisfy the child’s mild preference.

    In these cases, it is apparent that there are no concerns for the physical well-being of the children – the government has admitted that it has no case for physical abuse. So, in these cases, we are talkng only about the psychological well-being of both child and parent. Why should the child’s psychological well-being (whatever that means) be privileged, under law, above that of the parent? I can see, and even expect, parents to choose to put their childs psychological well-being ahead of their own in some circumstances, but I’m not sure this should be a legal requirement.

    After all, raising a child is frequently a matter of disregarding the child’s feelings and desires because you know better. A rule that a parent must always place the child’s psychological well-being ahead of their own seems to me potentially quite dangerous.

  • james

    I was adopted. Not for the reasons in this case – my biological mother became pregnant with me after an extra-marital affair and decided to put me up for adoption. That being so my adoptive parents told me I was adopted when I was quite young. They gave me a wonderful childhood and they ARE my parents.

    Without their knowledge, because I had no wish to cause them pain, I traced my biological mother and father when I was twenty five years old. I discovered and carefully approached through third parties, my biological mother and two half brothers and two half sisters and I have developed friendships with them over the last fifteen years. I am now forty and have children of my own. The only person who is unaware of the relationships is my adoptive mother as I believe it would be unkind to tell her about what has happened. My adoptive father is now dead.

    What has this to do with the minister’s decision? Well firstly the wrongs were done to these children a long time ago and the relationship they have with their adoptive parents will be much stronger than with their natural parents, but I believe that it should be their choice how to move on from here. They should know the facts and make the decision themselves. Forcibly returning them to their natural parents is not an answer that could possibly suit anyone; the children, the adoptive parents or indeed the natural parents who, in these circumstances, could never develop the kind of relationship they should have had if the state had not got involved in the first place.

    Also it is worth bearing in mind that just because the doctor in these cases has been discredited it does not necessarily mean that some of the natural parents were not abusing their children. Before doing anything each case should be examined properly to establish the nature of the original allegation.

    There can be no winners in a forced decision either for returning the children or against. Ultimately the individuals concerned should be allowed to find the solution that suits them best, as I did.

  • This post combines so many issues that I don’t know where to start. But one place might be on what must certainly be a threshold assumption by the initial poster that other people (you frame the question to determine an answer when you call it “The State”) have no right to look over your shoulder and interfere when they see what they believe is mistreatment of a child.

    Certainly a child is not, as someone has rightly noted, “private property,” an object of the parents to do with what they choose. So once that threshold is passed — and to my mind we have no society if you are free to do with a child as you please — then the issue is not a diatribe against “Government-fetishists” but some sorting out of the proper boundaries.

    Child protective agencies are damned if they do and if they don’t. Too much meddling and they are over-reaching; too little and you have dead children — don’t sneer, the papers seem to be full of such horrendous stories — and complaints that the agency didn’t do its job.

    I think that isssue is one for deliberation not sloganeering.

  • I agree completely with Julian… if the children are still very young, return them to their parents and if they are old enough to understand what is going on, just bloodly well ask them what they want! Childen are not property of the state nor of their parents/foster-parents.

  • Shannon Love

    “Prof Meadow’s theory was discredited following the cases of three mothers who were wrongly accused of killing their children on his evidence.”

    Since when do we consider a medical or scientific concept discredited because of the results of judicial proceedings? Whether the justice system or even Prof Meadow made serious errors due to incompetence or malice has no bearing on whether a condition like Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy exists or not.

    Something like MSBP definitely exists as parents have been caught on hidden video attacking their own children in the hospital by such means as injecting fecal material into their IV tubes.

    It is very important to separate the institutional abuse of idea from the idea itself.

  • The mixing up of what has gone wrong here is why the cross-track arguments. The professor’s testimony against the birth-parents based on his fallacious diagnoses caused errors in court cases. The Minister saying that court cases must be allowed to stand with errors resulting in damage to persons verges on malicious intent.

    She, apparently having NO empathy for any human beings, parents OR children, intends to continue the pain and suffering of many parents, because “she knows best”! What a load of bollocks! She should never be allowed within 10,000 miles of any position above street-sweeper!

    Any decent person would order immediate, swift review of all of those cases, paying particular attention to the wishes of all concerned, and no thought to whether it makes the Ministry look bad.

  • Of course Jeannie is correct. Not to right the wrongs done by the legal-bureaucratic monster that sprang from Meadow’s ideas is to grant it permanent suzerainty over its victims’ lives. Simply unthinkable, unless you are Margaret Hodge.

    Now this shameless woman compounds Meadow’s fantastical diagnosis with one of her own, namely that social inertia stands above natural justice in the order of things. No bureaucracy could want for a more convenient defence – or a more willing defender.

  • I also want to comment that FDBP (Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, a form of Factitious Disorder – meaning, basically, someone to whom lying is an essential part of their personality) has NOT been discredited. I am sure the diagnosis is overused in some areas (especially by “Child Protective” government agencies, who in the US also have a bad reputation for being anti-parent).

    But Munchausen and its subtype – by proxy – is very much a serious disorder. My daughter, who is now a neuroscientist, had a college roommate who was a Munchausen (and three psychiatrists warned my daughter to get away because SHE could be the proxy – she was in danger). Munchausen’s are very scary folks and can be very dangerous, as they may very well hurt someone else (not just their kids) in order to gain attention. Just as an arsonist is sometimes a fireman, these folks may be the “rescuers” of folks who have unexplained accidents! They are also very hard to catch, which is probably why child stealers protectors in the government are likely to jump to conclusions.

    In New Zealand, when they went to a nationwide centralized medical records system, they discovered a substantially higher number of Munchausen’s than anybody expected, meaning the disorder is more common than was thought. This is because these folks will scatter their visits among many different medical facilities so that they won’t get caught.

  • Julian Morrison

    It’s “cry wolf” that makes folks ready to assume “Munchausen Syndrome” is a fraud: anyone who’s watched the antics of the child-protection service (and psychologists in general), will have likely come to the conclusion that they’re, en masse, trend-blown witch-doctors (with a tendency to degenerate into witch-hunters). This tends to cast doubt upon their pronouncements.

  • Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    Munchausen syndrome by proxy describes the relation between State school system employees and their victims. Are schools graduating illiterates? “Oooh the poor dears; just give us more money.”

  • Steve Meyer

    In response to Timothy Piercy’s comments above, I have a different take on adoption in general. I was adopted as a month old infant, and I cannot disagree more with his assertions.

    Timothy’s comments in italics, my responses below:

    This is NOT a tough decision.

    It is a VERY difficult decision. There is no way in this particular situation to right the wrong that was committed. Nor are children of any age property to be returned to the owner. All of the children should be immediately informed of what the situation is, whether they are old enough to understand yet or not. Eventually they will have to deal with it regardless. Older children will have to decide what to do themselves.

    An adopted child who comes to understand what being adopted means, the adopted child will usually want to find his or her REAL father and REAL mother. People who think like this woman usually try to prevent this from happening by closing the case file.

    While I have no desire to locate my birthparents, it is true that many people do want to make contact, for a variety of reasons. I have never thought of my parents as anything other than my REAL parents, and it seems quite strange to refer to my biological parents as REAL parents. I have taken offense in the past when some insensitive person, intending to ask if I knew who my birthparents were, instead asked who my ‘real’ parents were. My real parents are the ones that raised me. I am appreciative of the fact that I was put up for adoption by my birthmother, and I am completely unconcerned about her motivation. I am sure there was a good reason. Even if I was taken away by the state for no good reason as happened in this article, how on earth could this knowledge help me in any way? Nothing can be done about it at this point. If a child was taken away by the state at an age old enough to remember their parents – i.e. older than 2 years – it would be a difficult choice. Lastly, closing adoption case files should never be done to cover up bureaucratic failures.

    The best thing for ANY adopted child is to know his or her OWN ancestry to carry on the bloodline and family heritage.

    I have heard this many times before and I do not understand it. It is always stated as self-evident.
    My ancestry is my family’s ancestry. It is good to know your family ancestry and heritage. I know the location of the (still occupied) farmhouse in Denmark that my great grandfather grew up in. I hope to visit there someday. I also know a great deal about the German, Irish, and Portugese ancestors in my family, back to about 1850. In the US, this is more than most people. How is knowing the heritage of your birth parents, who you never met, relevant? In the cases of adoption of a child from a different race or ethnicity, the cultural heritage is important, but I don’t see how the specifics add anything. Wanting to know your family’s history is very common. Don’t assume that everyone thinks that the biological history is all that important.

    One last thought – when I was born, (this is pre-Roe vs Wade) nearly all adoptions were ‘public’ adoptions, i.e. handled by the state that you lived in. The actual placement of children with adoptive families was contracted out to various church-run social service agencies. The lawyer-run ‘private’ adoptions were not yet common at the time. Not sure if the church would be trusted with this in the UK, but it is another way to try to avoid the unaccountable bureaucrats who created the tragedies that the article described.

  • Dave F

    I agree with Julian Morrison. From the age of 10 or 11 any child involved is perfectly capable of deciding who it wants to live with and in many countries does (in the case of contested child custody for example).

    The interests of the child are best served by the child in this instance.

    In most Western countries, surely, this would result also in huge civil cases for damages against social services departments?

    What happened to the hundreds of kids removed from their families due to the discredited child sexual abuse diagnostic theory of Dr Marietta Higgs, does anyone know?

  • Andrew Duffin

    Whatever is eventually done in this awful case, surely the lesson that needs to be learned is quite clear.

    The State should not have these powers.

    How many more examples do we need?

  • Amos

    “The State should not have these powers.”

    If not the State, then who? In many cases the children who are true victims of MSBP abuse have no one, no aunt, uncle or relative who will protect them. The State, with all it’s faults, is the only entity from whom these children can expect ANY protection from their abusers.

  • Patrick Carroll

    The best thing for ANY adopted child is to know his or her OWN ancestry to carry on the bloodline and family heritage.

    I have heard this many times before and I do not understand it. It is always stated as self-evident. . . How is knowing the heritage of your birth parents, who you never met, relevant? In the cases of adoption of a child from a different race or ethnicity, the cultural heritage is important, but I don’t see how the specifics add anything. Wanting to know your family’s history is very common. Don’t assume that everyone thinks that the biological history is all that important.

    Steve, the biological history could be very important if the biological parents had some heritable medical condition.

  • Julian Morrison

    “If not the State, then who?” asks Amos

    I think the cause of the problem is that states enforce “custody” of children. Sometimes the result is, the child is trapped in with an abusive parent. That’s rare, but it’s common that the parent is incompatible, unavailable, or incompetent.

    Suppose as a thought experiment, we stand this situation on its head, make it a legally recognised right of the child to pick, revoke, and alter their “legal guardian(s)” at whim, provided the new foster parent agrees to accept the responsibility.

    Children bond to their parents, so this wouldn’t be used much, but suddenly the “market forces” make abuse all but impossible. Nowadays, there is often some other adult knowing the child is suffering, looking on but legally barred from intervening. Under this hypothetical new system, the child would simply “adopt” the caring adult, dump their abuser, and be free of the problem.

    As per usual, whatever the state touches, it breaks.

  • The USA inherited a Common Law provision of soveriegn immunity from merry old England. The government could not names as a party to a lawsuit because the government was never wrong (I know, I know).

    Some time ago the Federal Government passed a law that swore off this protection and allowed private citizens to name the government as a party to a lawsuit. Some State governments (such as my New York) have similarly sworn it off, but others have not.

    I noticed that no one so far has mentioned this law. Does the British government still enjoy sovereign immunity? I would think that this set of circumstances, the forced removal of children, would make an excellent case.

    There are many people within and without of America who claim Americans are too litigous, but in circumstances such as these the government would definately review their policies & procedures if they got hit by a multi-hundred million dollar lawsuit. I don’t know what the damages for forced abduction would be, but with 5000 people it adds up quick.

    Brock Cusick

  • limberwulf

    I am a firm believer in family, and that real family does not always mean blood relation. The decision of what to do at this point is an easy one, involving two things. One, tell the truth to the families. I will not say that it is important to be with or know about your birth parents, because your family are the ones you love. I will say that lies never end well. The information should be available to all of the parents and children involved in this situation, and allow them to individually work things out. There will be heartache all around, for both sets of parents and the children, thanks to the benevolent State.
    The second thing to be done is the most important. End the concept that governments knows best. Government should have the power to enforce laws, and to do so in the same manner in every case. Illegal activities, such as abuse and fraud, should be punished with the same jail time or other punishments for parents as for everyone else. Children involved in such situations, should ideally be sent to the care of nearest kin, or closest friend. IF no such people exist, the responsibilites fall to the charitable organizations, such as churches. The issue is essentially the idea that people in a position of power, i.e. government, will somehow “know whats best” for everyone else. Government is not an instituition of love and care, and should not be treated as if they are. Churches and other charitable organizations are in place specifically for the care of other people, and even their motivations are far more likely to be corrupted than that of parents, family, and friends. Corruption happens, there are bad parents, there are also bad churches, and there are certainly bad governments. The problem is that the more power a government has, the less accountable it is.

    Obviously, the big issue here is not what to do with the situation, because there is not going to be a happy ending regardless. The big issue that made this a worthy discussion is the frustration of seeing no accountability, no consequences for a government that, regardless of intentions, may have destroyed the lives of many families.

    As an aside, I have heard of some cases of this in the States. One in particular that comes to mind was a situation in which the mother claimed a sickness and even induced it in her child for the purposes of getting money for the care of the child. I know with this syndrome, some are engaging in it simply for attention, but I have seen cases where it was government checks that were the motivation. A case of government caused child abuse? I would say no, because the parent was still at fault, and still the corrupt person. But it does prove that even the best intended socialist concepts can cause harm. Its time the authority of the family is recognized above the whim of government nannies.

  • amos

    Picking up on Julian Morrison’s thought experiment where children have the right to choose the
    adult(s) who will raise them.

    I believe that most children, if given the choice, would make a decision that would NOT be in their best interest.

    Over the years I have read of horrific abuses visited upon children who could have just run away. But they didn’t because they knew of no other world except the one inhabited by their abuser.

    In our own town, a 13 year old boy starved to death because his parents punished him by not allowing him to eat. He wasn’t chained to a bed or locked up in a closet. He was allowed to attend school and roam free. He even rifled in the neighbor’s garbage for food, and was punished for it, until he became too weak. It never occurred to him to run away. And it never occured to his brother to tell anyone about it.

    If that boy had been given the choice between staying with his parents or never seeing them again, he would have chosen to stay. Because in his mind he was being punished for bad behavior and the will of his parents was absolute, always right, and as certain as gravity. After all he DID stay and allow them to starve him to death.

    At the other end of the spectrum. I once served on a Grand Jury. We decided a charge of child endangerment in which a father was accused of hitting his 13 year old daughter.

    We heard testimony from the mother, the daughter, and the father, who had custody. It soon became apparent that the daughter wanted to move out of her faher’s house and away from his curfews, making her do her school work, warning her away from the wrong crowd etc., and move in with her mother so she would have free reign to do whatever she wanted.

    To that end she worked the system, accused her father of battery, and had him put in jail in hopes of moving into her mother’s boyfriend’s house.

    The mother, bless her selfish little heart, had no interest in doing the hard work of watching and imposing discipline upon the her and could be depended upon to let the daughter run wild. It was also apparent that the father was the only person in that entire family who gave a damn about the long term fate of that little girl.

    We didn’t indict.

    If the daughter had been given the choice, she would have moved in with her mother and boyfriend and most likely ended up like her mother, a sometime prostitute and drug user who cared about no one but herself. A waste of life and potential.

    If the children in both cases described above had been given the choice, they would have made the wrong choice precisely because they ARE children and don’t have the life experience to know what is best for them.

    In the case of forced removal by the State, the criteria is different and although some will make the wrong choice, I believe even more bad choices would be made by the beauracracy.