[AKidsRight.Org] Child's Best Interest as a Goal - Your FEEDBACK

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From: John Murtari (jmurtari@AKidsRight.org)
Date: Thu Apr 19 2007 - 09:40:49 EDT

Good People & People of Faith,

This message consists of just your FEEDBACK on the story of an alleged
'awful home environment' of a poor seven year old (actually my story)
-- and what it says about any Court/Law using "the child's best
interest" as a standard in Family Law; whether that be from divorce,
separation, or child 'protective' services.

I feel it does not provide a sound moral or philosophical basis for
our reform efforts.  It is something we need to discuss among
ourselves -- many people mourn the fact that 'our movement' is not
more united, a real common understanding and goal may help.  We are
not there yet....  Do we have a goal that will motivate people to the
level of loving personal sacrifice, to protect a great Civil Right?

I'm sorry, but I can't get excited about reform that starts with a
rebuttable presumption of 'shared parenting', or that in high-conflict
situations still let's a single Judge or 'counselors' decide what's in
my child's best interest?

If you missed reading the original message, you will find it here:

YOUR FEEDBACK and thoughts on this are below.  There were some very
good points made and questions asked.  For those new to the list, I
collect FEEDBACK to prior messages and send it out as one message.  If
you reply with a followup, you get the last word.  We can learn a lot
from respectful disagreement in dialog.

--- Cinemade@aol.com

> Very moving story.

--- Joani <Putzangel@aol.com>

> Great Story, John.

--- Jan <TIDDYBEAR@aol.com>


> NOT by calling child "protective" services!!!!!!!!!  Sure we should
> try to help the family, but CPS isn't going to do jack for them!!!
> Well, except of course to snatch the kid!

--- thomas.d.curry@verizon.net

> i read your story as a child i also grew up with no bath room as you
> well know love doesn't grow in dirt love grows in the heart cps is
> heartless they took my 4 grandkids and i cant see them but while
> they were with me they knew love and had love it's a shame cps is
> all about the money

--- Colleen <OurkidsRiebl@aol.com>

> I enjoyed your story so very much.  While reading it, I thought of
> all the times I was at my grandparents or aunts and uncles and I
> know my parents had been drinking.  BUT- we were a family enjoying
> each other.

> I went back to school for Social Work. I am doing a paper on family
> preservation services.  I believe that services should be
> implemented or at least offered before any other intervention, by
> strangers.

> The best interest of the child is allowing the child to remain in
> their family, and helping that family.

... I like the idea the community should 'offer' help to a family --
but also not force their will... my story could have had a very tragic
ending.  But family is a very private thing, a very dynamic
relationship between parents and children (as you well know).  Perhaps
that is the price we sometimes pay for freedom.

I don't mind the 'law of averages' being applied to government setting
food standards or speed limits, but it is quite another thing when it
is forced upon family life.  This Easter morning I can't help but
remember all the good times we had together.  The DWI bothers a lot of
people, but in reality, the actual serious accident is very rare --
but to avoid that, some would have cut me off from my parents -- real
abuse (as you say) to avoid something that 'might' happen.

--- Simon Dorey <simondorey@shaw.ca>

> ... The best interests of the child are not represented by a lawyer
> for the child - merely by a poorly educated and informed judge -
> with a whole bag of presumptions and assumptions on his shoulders.

> We should change this to the best interest of the family and
> children should automatically be appointed court counsel if the
> matter appears in a court situation.

This is quite a bit different from this type of goal:

That you and your spouse are both considered Fit & Equal parents
(equal in terms of both physical and legal custody).  If anyone (a
spouse, relative, social services) wishes to challenge that, you have:

1) The right to counsel.

2) The right to be presumed a fit parent, innocent, and deserving of
an equal relationship with your kids.

3) The right to protection of a jury.  The "state" needs to prove you
were a demonstrated serious and intentional threat to your child's

Not sure if that is what you meant?  When there is conflict, you would
like a Judge to decide what is in the best interest of your family?  A
child should immediately be appointed a lawyer while they still are
presumed to have two fit parents?  If you could explain a bit more
that would help me and others understand better.


--- Janet <wintrywood@comcast.net>

> Many times I as a teen had to seek the help of police, neighbors,
> priests, to protect us from my dad's forms of discipline.  Just
> because you turned out ok doesn't mean all children will.  There is
> no need to use violence against children and parents that do need to
> learn new ways to deal with their children without violence.  Too
> many children are dying while their parents use violence because
> they either don't know any better and think its ok.  You were one of
> the lucky ones... Please don't promote violence against children
> just because you turned out ok.  Violence is always wrong!

Thanks for writing and sorry to hear about what happened... Family is
a very private and special thing... I acknowledge that in my case,
things could have also turned out very badly -- but that is an
inseparable part of having Life & Freedom.

About 'violence', by which I assume you mean physical force of one
against another?  The interactions of 'matter' have no moral value in
and of themselves, they are just physical events - not something with
intrinsic good or evil.  A razor strap hitting my butt has no
morality?  It is the intent of the rational being who puts the process
in motion, were they acting from love, from the dictates of a
well-formed conscience:


My mom loved me very deeply --- you focus on one physical act and
would condemn her.  I dare say, if you were a social worker, and she
would have refused to stop spanking me in that matter --- would you
have separated us?  FORCED your moral decision onto another?  That is
the very problem with our present system. You want to set Speed
Limits, fine, but Gov't should not invade Family.

--- Brad Smith <papatopierre@yahoo.com>

> Your "story" today was, of course, very moving ...  part of the
> problem we are dealing with is that the legal system cannot measure
> or judge the value of Love. They can't even measure or objectively
> judge the value of any other factor of parenting, for that
> matter. That is one reason why "the best interests of the child" is
> a wholly inadequate and unconstitutional standard.

--- Bob Allen <bobx23456@yahoo.com>

> Hey John, thanks for the story.  Every day I see and hear horror
> stories of "CPS" and other government intervention.  The USA was
> once a free country. Now its a police state.  From cradle to grave
> the police state, including CPS, watches over and CONTROLS
> everything we do.  And most of the time they do far more harm than
> good.

--- Paul Fisher <gyre46@mac.com>

> I was beginning to get upset that you might be suggesting this young
> man should be taken from his parents...  I was beginning to think
> how I would phrase my disappointment.  Then I continued reading.  I
> believe my initial reaction is not uncommon, get just enough
> information to formulate an opinion instead of reading the entire
> thing, much like the family courts.

--- Tess <moms43place@yahoo.com>

> this is definitely a case where social services should be taking
> this child out of the home and placing him in foster care, or with a
> healthy family member.  These parents should then be required to go
> to parenting classes, etc and if the child is let back in after some
> time, ss should make frequent unannounced visits and notify the
> school that they are to report any signs of abuse or hear anything
> bad from the boy.

... before I respond in full I wanted to make sure you read the entire
message all the way to end -- there was a bit of twist


--- Stephen Metzger <icaworld@optonline.net>

> What an extraordinary story.  I was wondering where you were going
> with it early on, because my answer was very much along the lines of
> yours.  But that it turned out to be your story--well, it's one I
> will surely pass on to others.

--- "Head, Timothy" <THead@Entertainment.com>

> Nice input John.... I often wonder myself if all of these
> organizations (child protective , etc ) are counter productive for
> all of the reasons listed here ... I couldn't agree more with the
> statement to keep big brother out of family matters completely
> .... They just screw everything up anyway...Government can't do
> anything right , so why am I not surprised..?.

--- "B. A. Townley" <Townley@cox.net>

> Is the child happy? Does the child feel loved and secure? Has he
> complained to anyone? Is his situation worst than children born on
> wagon trains, going west? Without children, the west would not have
> been won. And could social services be trusted to go in and help
> rather than earning their federal money and bonuses?

> I think some adversity makes people stronger. If the DHS/CPS could
> take all the people they victimize and put them in the magazine
> picture perfect life they try to demand with nothing ever goes
> wrong, I think it would ruin the children. I read a story once where
> a man saw a butterfly struggling out of its cocoon. He felt sorry
> for it and helped cut away the cocoon. But without that struggle,
> the butterfly could not strengthen its wings so it could never fly
> and have the normal life of a butterfly...

--- "Conrad Orcheski" <cjo0@hotmail.com>

> Thank you John. That was an inspiring letter.

Thanks for writing.  I had been thinking about it for a while.
Whatever we experience as a child we see as 'normal'.  I always
thought everybody had old parents, I can still remember being
surprised that some of my friends had parents were so young -- what

Family is special and private. Gov't can't step in based on the law of
averages.  You wanna set Speed Limits, fine, but don't dictate family

--- "Barbara C. Johnson" <barbaracjohnson@worldnet.att.net>

> Interesting email, John.  Pleased you split it into sections.  I was
> about to write you about famous people who had survived those
> conditions and had achieved personal success, and tell you not to
> call the authorities.  We simply do not need them to interfere with
> families.

> Naturally there are some situations that might be extraordinary, but
> there are probably other resources to turn to before the
> governmental authorities.

--- "David Arseneau" <Vincent52@Sympatico.Ca>

> We have Constitutional Rights, not Civil rights; Our rights are
> guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, and not given to us by any
> Civil Authority.  Your story "made" my Good Friday, and that's what
> Good Friday IS all about....

Thanks for a kind message, perhaps it is time for a new right to be

--- Phil Father <phillyface@yahoo.com>

> I have been following your experiences for years now.  Your own
> story is, as written in the context of what the government does
> today, is chilling.  Government interference would have ruined your
> life as it is now doing to so many of our children.

--- Rev. Brewer <aframo05@yahoo.com>

> Thank you John.  Your story is beautifully written.  It makes one
> stop and really think about all aspects of our work and what must be
> considered when intervening, or choosing to not intervene and the
> definition of "in the best interest of the child".  Times have
> changed as you so beautifully pointed out.

--- Sandra Carroll <sassysandic@yahoo.com>

> John there has always been 2 sides to the coin. We know that social
> services are needed in some cases. The question here is, is it in
> the best interest of the child to be removed from the home? We know
> this is what will happen. Or should there be programs implemented
> that will keep the child in home and retrain the parents,thereby
> encouraging them to provide a better atmosphere for the
> child. Perhaps this would not help and in the end the child would
> need other placement. But shouldn't there at least be a real chance
> for this family to grow and learn together.

Like you say, I think the community/Gov't should 'offer' help and
services to a family -- but they have no 'right' to force it unless
real harm has occurred.

In my story, things could have also turned out quite badly. I was
fortunate.  But family is a very special and private experience that
lasts our entire life.  Gov't can step in based on the 'law of
average' or what 'might happen.'  I could have been really hurt, but
that is the price of Life & Freedom.

--- Mark <mark@ivalenti.com>

> That is a wonderful letter.  I also have a story somewhat similar,
> as I'm sure many people do.  However, in my case, as a 6-year-old
> child I called the police on my father (that where our stories
> differ on a fundamental level, my father wasn't around after I was
> 7).  The police refused to come out, call anyone, etc.  A few weeks
> later, as a 6-year old boy, I talked my mother into leaving my
> father.

> Now, aside from that, since kindergarten I was left to get myself
> off to school, and home safely from school.  There are many, many
> other instances that I can parallel to your story on a fundamental
> level.  And I agree, if social services had stepped in, I wouldn't
> be where I am today.  I would probably be on government assistance,
> definitely not a university grad, etc, etc, etc.  I did have some
> difficult situations growing up, but with my mother's love and
> guidance, I was able to learn how to cope.  Something that would
> have been stolen from me by DHS if they decide to "help".

> The term "children's best interests" is nothing more than a shield
> the government uses when trying to intervene, because as soon as
> they hide behind that phrase, anyone who opposes them automatically
> comes of looking like the bad guy.  People do not bother to delve
> into the government's definitions of what a child's "best interests"
> are.  No, it is not about children's best interests at all.  That
> phrase is like America's rallying cry "Remember the Maine" during
> the Spanish-American war (for those who may read this, the Maine was
> supposedly sunk by a Spanish mine, and the government used that as
> the motivating phrase... all based upon a lie... I myself have been
> the target of the "children's best interest" phrase...  and it now
> makes me sick every time I hear that phrase.

--- xavier lane <fatheralienation@yahoo.com>

> The best interest is that the child has both parents. The law is
> there to protect us all and it has not. The Constitution is here for
> a reason and I intend on using it. It's true every child cannot be
> saved and it's not their fault because of their parents right to
> have a child. If we could just save the world in just one swoop.
> I'm a father and I intend to prosecute the very vultures that are
> praying on innocent children and parents. If judges and whomever
> else think that the decisions they are making are for the better
> ment of anyone:I have some ocean front property in Arizona. If
> children and parents need help then help them. Do not make laws the
> implicate parents on lies and no DUE PROCESS. Prove your case with
> direct evidence not hearsay and false allegations.

--- "Ramon Collins" <ramon_collins@hotmail.com>

> Congrats on surviving the things that make men strong, and women
> good mothers. I am sure that when we give too much from the outside
> of the family we do the same thing as when you add too many neutrons
> to the nucleus of a uranium atom, as in e=mc squared. The family can
> be destroyed in a hot flash of light, and many other things get
> destroyed as a result.
> Sometimes all it takes is a rope to keep you within loves' reach,
> and space to let the energy do some good. If you had been drugged as
> a child, you would never have visited the Academy, except to work as
> a gardener or floor sweeper.

---  Biggles <bigglesguy@yahoo.com>

> John, that was great. As I was reading I was already formulating my
> answer - 'bad cases make for bad case law' or something like that.
> Then the great twist!

--- "Jackie Unitt" <jackie.unitt@everyman.org>

> We are having our struggle here in Canada with our Children's Aid
> service. You may have read about it.  We have children taken from
> their parents and placed with other families and simply forgotten.
> There is very little followup.  There are records of these children
> being abused.

> Well now they are saying they will revamp the system.  No more
> expensive vans and junkets to other countries on funds taken from
> the pot that is supposed to be for the support of the children.  I
> hope something will change but I fear it will not.

> I like your story.  Children need to feel their parent's love.  I'm
> listening to men who have lost contact with their children through
> divorce. I hear their current pain and I hear their own pain that
> goes back over the years.  There is so much to change and the years
> go by too quickly.  Thank you for what you have done.  I admire your
> courage.

---  Kriz Maxwell <triadd005@yahoo.com>

> I am speechless.......in a good way. Congratulations and you deserve
> alot of credit for what you have gone through in your life.

--- Luke <skipbrackett@mindspring.com>

> Just think, if the state had stepped in and put you in foster care
> you may not have survived like too many foster care children don't
> or you could have turned to a life of crime like too many children
> reared by the state do.  And if Abe Lincoln were a small child today
> and living in the same home environment he grew up in on the
> frontier of his day the state definitely would put him in foster
> care protecting his best interests of course.

I really am very lucky, and at the same time I admit that things could
also have turned out quite badly for me -- put that is the price we
pay for freedom.

Family is special and private, the gov't can't apply the law of
averages and saying we are going to interfere -- that is fine for
setting speed limits, but not taking a child from parents.

                                       John Murtari
Coordinator                            AKidsRight.Org
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org                "A Kid's Right to BOTH parents"
Toll Free (877) 635-1968(x-211)        http://www.AKidsRight.Org/
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