A Sin To Be Silent...
This is a difficult post to write for a number of reasons, yet, as the title suggests, it would be wrong for me not to. Several weeks ago, I read a series of news articles about a New Jersey family, Army Major and Mrs. Jackson, a Christian family with three biological and two adopted children. For years, they have fostered medically at risk children, a herculean and noble effort that led to them adopting at least two.
However, in April 2010, (nearly two years ago) they ran afoul of New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), when they took the youngest, an adopted, medically challenged infant, to the hospital for a fever. The hospital staff initially thought aspects of the baby’s condition were suspicious and contacted DYFS, who immediately removed all five children from the home. Ultimately, in a fairly short time, the medical concerns were determined to come from her existing conditions and likely pre-adoption injuries.
However, DYFS refused to return the children, apparently deliberately placing them in foster care that actively opposed the family’s Christian belief, and have accused the Jacksons of being ‘excessively Christian’ and earlier this year apparently began to seek adoptive parents for them.
I have waited to write about this because of the somewhat sensational nature of the case. I did extensive searching on the web for information on the case and updates newer than around February or March of 2011 without luck. Here is a series of articles that tell the lion’s share of the story. Most of the other sites I found, including facebook pages and fundraising sites have no newer real info other than the threat of adoption. (Summary – 1 – 2 – 3)
I suspect the primary reason for the dearth of information is a gag order placed on the case, presumably by DYFS because all of the coverage seems to come from the family’s side of the situation. Given there were no new updates, that implied that the case was still unresolved, 20 months later. Therefore, today, I called the family’s lawyer. The lady who answered the phone confirmed the case was still unresolved, but couldn’t comment on it (due to the gag order). I thanked her and wished her a happy new year, which she seemed to appreciate. The call also confirmed one other fact—the case is real and not an urban legend.
I have at least one friend who works or has worked in local Child Protective Services, so I know not every employee of social services is like the people involved in this one. Nonetheless, I write this post for two reasons.
1) Most importantly, this family needs prayer and support. Please keep them constantly before our Father of Justice and Love.
2) It is a dangerous thing to fall afoul of government agencies. Justice or fairness are not guaranteed. The maxim is a wise one: Operate in good faith, but be already prepared for bad.
Today’s post has very little to do with education and essentially none with higher ed, but I grieve for this family, and want to see them brought back together. Please join me in praying for them.
Lagniappe: in a Providential follow-up to yesterday’s post about the loss of our Christian heritage, I saw this article on how word meanings change over time and how it has affected our corporate dialogue, contributing to the problems I cited yesterday.