(Re-aired from week of 11/8/2021)
Them Before Us. The title caught my attention. Exactly who is “them” and exactly who is “us”? Curiosity won, and I read with rapt attention about a new organization and new book from the founder of this organization dedicated to one thing: putting children and their rights and needs before adult desires. The answer to my question: “them” is children, and “us” is adults in general,
Here in Wisconsin, I’ve been talking about this situation for decades as we have watched time and again, adults’ perceived happiness trump what is in the best interest of children. But now there is an organization that is making this issue its sole focus. In addition to starting the movement and developing its online presence, Them Before Us founder, Katy Faust, joined by Stacy Manning, general editor of the website and movement, have done the heavy lifting of deep research to give the social science findings that support what really should be common sense and what is certainly God’s plan. Earlier this year, they published Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. That’s the book that caused me to look at the website, listen to some videos featuring the founder and then to read the book.
In this month when we as a nation emphasize adoption, I think focusing on this idea of children’s rights and inherent needs is appropriate. And what are the rights and inherent needs of children? Faust and Manning boil them down to this. First their rights: “Children have a fundamental right to be known and loved by the two people who made them: their mother and father. It’s a right that’s recognized worldwide.” Second, their needs: “And it goes way beyond being ‘safe and loved.’ Children are made for the daily love and involvement of both their biological mother and father.” Denying those very real rights and needs spells disaster for children in every way.
For decades now, adult desires have been paramount over the rights and needs of children in too much lawmaking and in court decisions. Much of this started with no-fault divorce laws that gained popularity in the seventies and eighties, following the tumultuous sexual-revolution of the sixties.
No-fault divorce was a natural follow-up. Men and women who determined they were not happy in their marriage wanted an easy, no-fault way to get out. Adultery, abuse, and abandonment—faults—weren’t the issue. Often, people just wanted what they thought were “greener,” “younger” pastures, so to speak, or they wanted sexual freedom without the responsibility of a wife and family. Lawmakers were happy to comply.
And soon, a husband or wife, a dad or mom, could walk away from his or her family with impunity to seek his or her happiness. Children? Well, they were inconsequential. Besides, children are flexible and resilient, right? They’ll recover and certainly they’ll be better off if dad or mom is happy, even if dad or mom is no longer living in the home as a full-time parent.
Step-families followed—and step-families are not the same as a child living with his or her married biological parents. Faust points out that research shows step-parents statistically don’t love, care for or provide for their step-children in the same way they do for their own biological children. In these situations, after a divorce in particular, the relationship sought by the step-parents is with the child’s mother or father. That is the prize, not the children.
Now we have adoption by same-sex couples, which intentionally deprives a child of either a mother or a father. But these couples want what they want—their happiness.
The authors cover donor conception and surrogacy, both of which are ultimately about the adults and what they want, without real regard for the rights and the needs of the children who are the product of these conceptions.
As Faust and Manning point out, adoption is different from these negative examples. In adoption, adults are looking to mend the loss a child’s biological parents. Adults are, in adoption, doing what they should always do, doing the hard thing to make life better for a child. Simply put, adoption is for children, not adults.
Them before us—it’s way more than a catchy phrase. It’s actually God’s plan and purpose revealed to us in Genesis. Men and women marrying, having children, and staying together to rear those children. As always, God’s way is the best way.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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