Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Got Peeps?

Just last week someone asked me if I collected anything. "As a matter of fact, I do," I answered. "I collect friends." I've never been one to clutter up my life with a bunch of stuff. I'd much rather be surrounded with friends and family who daily engage in the give and take of life. The relationships I cultivate and tend are central to the deep satisfaction I experience in life. I need my peeps and they need me.

Think about it. Anything of any value that has ever stood the test of time was the direct result of a relationship. Healthy relationships with the people in our lives build, nurture, and sustain us. The absence of such relationships leaves us vulnerable and compromised. This is especially true for children who are growing and learning about our world and how it works.

I've long thought that basic needs for children should include food, water, shelter, and a healthy, loving relationship with at least one competent adult. Science tells us so.

When making decisions about the lives of children, too many professionals fail to consider this important fact. Childhoods are destroyed and futures compromised as a result. Sometimes we are more focused on parental rights or those of blood-related relatives than we are on the non-negotiable needs of children.

Consider the case of two-year-old Vanessa. Her birth mother consented to her adoption upon Vanessa's birth. For whatever reason, her birth father was not involved in the adoption decision. He should have been, and it is wrong that he wasn't. But it is more wrong to return a toddler whose entire world revolves around the loving care her adoptive mother has given her. It is more wrong to take away the center of Vanessa's world and thrust her across the country into the arms of a stranger who has been convicted of multiple domestic violence charges and is not parenting any of his other children. Too often, we rip children from the loving embraces of people who have mothered and fathered them in the truest sense of the word and put kids with strangers who happen to share their biology. Where is the science that supports this?

Children need people who can love, support, and provide for them, as well as offer consistency and stability. And once a child is securely attached to such an adult and is thriving, the train has left the station. Why derail it? The rest of us need to get onboard.

The Got Milk? Campaign was successful at doing a body good. Maybe a Got Peeps? Campaign will do our babies good.