As you may know, I am a fairly Pro-Government and Anti-Libertarian guy. Here’s one way that I am not.
A little more than two years ago, my wife and I began an attempt to get licensed as foster care providers for our county. We had five biological children and another child adopted from Russia and my wife still wanted to increase the size of our family. We both felt that it would serve to glorify God if we were to provide a home for a child in need. So we began to take the necessary steps (and there were many) to get licensed for foster care in our county (which I will not name, but it is named after Alexander Ramsey, the first governor of the Minnesota Territory (I just read that in Wikipedia)).
We discussed this with friends of ours and though none advised us against this path, at least one friend stated that he and his wife had considered it, but found the level of intrusion and inspection from the county to be too much a danger for their family (They teach the bible to their kids and do other things of that sort). I respected that decision (in fact, we shared their fears) but I felt that it was worth taking this risk if we could provide a home for a baby that didn’t have one.
One thing that was made clear in the initial training was that the spanking of a foster care child was not allowed. Not only would the child be taken from you, should it be discovered that you had administered corporal punishment, but you would be guilty of a crime that could land you in prison. Indeed, at one of the training sessions that my wife attended, the trainer added “You’ll be put in jail so fast and I’ll be LAUGHING at you from the other side of the bars!”
It would be a point of amusement if this happened, you see.
But still, perhaps foolishly, we pressed on. We had already decided that we were going to ask for very young babies (my wife really likes the very early stages), and since we hadn’t spanked our children when they were infants, we didn’t think this would be a problem. When we met with the social worker and told her that we spanked she remarked that no other prospective family had ever admitted to doing it. Huh.
In any case she wasn’t sure what to make of it and said she would talk with other social workers and determine how we should proceed.
And when we met with her next she explained that despite the fact that we had agreed to never spank the foster child, the fact that we were planning to continue spanking our own children was quite troubling to them. She told us that if we decided to proceed with the process they wouldn’t give us anyone younger than a five year old (or so) because they wanted the child to be old enough to report to the social worker whether or not we had been spanking them.
We didn’t proceed.
We stopped the process. And this was after numerous hours of training, and writing up pages and pages of documentation, and home safety inspections (which had resulted in non-trivial home updating projects), multiple social worker meetings and so forth. For more than a year. We were frustrated. The no-spanking rule it is a foolish rule. It should be changed. But to treat us with such distrust because we spank has shades of religious discrimination.
Here’s one other bit of trivia. You can be licensed to be a foster care provider in this county if you have used illegal drugs, but only IF you have been clean for the last two years.
So to recap – Parent who currently uses corporal punishment with their children – not tolerated by the county. Foster care applicant who has recently used cocaine, but not since early 2006, and who doesn’t currently spank – happily accepted.
Clarification: There were other reasons that the county was hesitant to give a foster care child to us. Specifically – They thought our family was too big to provide quality care for another child.