‘Too old’ to be parents: Decision seems wrongheaded

FOR decades, elements of childcare in this country left a lot to be desired. 

Disturbing report after disturbing report outlined cruelty, neglect, and abuse. The sad and shaming legacy of those society-wide failures endures today, so it is probably not surprising that today’s childcare procedures are rigorous, indeed, so rigorous that they sometimes seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Protection agency Tulsa’s removal of a young child from the care of its grandparents, because they were deemed too old to provide “adequate care”, seems such a case. Tulsa ruled that the grandparents did not meet six measures to qualify as foster parents, one of which is age. The grandparents are in their mid-sixties, but their grandchild — “the heart and soul of their world, since coming into their care” — now lives with strangers in another county. This separation, especially in a country that trumpets its commitment to the family, seems just wrong and unnecessarily cruel.

If the child was in an abusive environment, Tulsa’s intervention might be understandable, but a consultant, a school principal, and the local doctor testified that the child was “cherished, well-educated, and well-looked-after”.

At a moment when many people defer parenthood until their 40s, when life expectancy is extended almost by the year and grandparents routinely mind children, it would seem prudent, and urgent, that this decision is reviewed.


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