Below is a letter from Family Council supporter, Ruth Carney, to Judge Chris Piazza—the Pulaski County judge who originally struck down Act One last year.

Honorable Judge Chris Piazza,

The Arkansas Department of Human Services has just suffered a handicapping blow. Their job of protecting the children and families of our state has just been limited by your decision. Not only has DHS been limited but 57% of the voters who approved the ban on UNMARRIED COHABITATING COUPLES from serving as foster or adoptive parents in the November 2008 election have just been disenfranchised. You said in your ruling “that the law infringed on a person’s right to privacy.” Oh please, anything but that!

As a foster parent myself, I should be grateful! No longer do I have to allow a case worker to have random visits to my home to see if my house is clean and our medications, knives, dangerous objects and chemicals are locked in safe places. I no longer have to have an annual physical revealing all my “defects,” including my weight! Nor after 43 years of marriage to the same man, do I have to be checked for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and have that information, along with my fingerprints and social security number, on file in an office in Little Rock. No longer do I have to submit to a criminal state and local background check and have all of my ADULT children subjected to the same INFRINGEMENT OF PRIVACY.  I can now have “transients” living in part of my home. As far as that goes, cohabitating singles can occupy all our extra bedrooms! Privacy, of course! Sex is a private matter!

The greatest achievement of your decision is that now the foster care system will have significantly fewer children to accommodate due to the “right of privacy” of the parents who consistently abuse, neglect and abandon their own children in the PRIVACY of their own homes! Many of whom are not married and are cohabitating with people who are not related to the children, promoting the myth that good role models are really not necessary in producing functional families! So why shouldn’t the state continue this in house training? One of the overwhelming needs of ALL our foster children has been the desire to call someone – anyone MOM AND DAD!

If you have the RIGHT to “STRIKE DOWN THE STATE’S LAW” using the reasoning that the LAW “infringed on a person’s right to privacy” then we are all in a very volatile position! When did “what is in the best interest of the child” turn into “what is in the best interest of the foster/adoptive adult?”

The front page article of the Sentinel Record in Hot Springs on April 17, entitled, “State Adoption Ban Gets Overturned” states that “The law ‘effectively’ banned gays and lesbians from adopting or fostering children because they are unable to LEGALLY marry in Arkansas.” Not sure, but does that mean you have effectively bypassed another LAW that was approved by registered voters? What next?

Furthermore, what is keeping the other mentioned cohabitating adults from getting legally married? Could it be commitment or stability, qualities surely not needed in a foster home?  You said that the ban did not serve the state’s interest. I believe it is time to reevaluate the “state’s interest.”

Another quote from the article on April 17 states that “Arkansas has an average of l6oo children on waiting lists, and that good homes were being ‘arbitrarily’ cut from the list”. Arbitrarily? Randomly? By chance? Without rhyme or reason? I think NOT!  Ask anyone who has applied to be a Foster parent! The screening process for Foster/Adopt is quite involved – even to having a proper septic tank!  If all who apply for Foster care sue for the “right of privacy” there will truly be no lacking of available families!

The front page of our local paper on April 20 showed the Child Abuse Awareness Rally at the court house in Hot Springs to remind us that 184 children (that we know of) were abused in Garland County alone. We are rated in the top 10 of 75 counties for child abuse. Can we be too careful?

When it comes to protecting children who have been abused, mentally, emotionally, sexually and physically, does anyone, except the child have the “right” to privacy?

Respectfully submitted,

Ruth Carney
Foster Mom

1 Comment

  1. Patrice Wolfe

    Thank you, Ruth Carney for giving such an insightful look at the recent overturn of Act One (and overturn of common sense and keeping the safety and well being of our children our number one priority!). I am very sorry that you were not serving on the Arkansas Supreme Court – you would have made a better decision than all of them did – because you really care about the children. Thank you for being a foster parent – it is truly an act of sacrificial love. God will reward your goodness!

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