Comments of the Day: “Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: ‘Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!’”

A banned teen mom yearbook photo from 2013

A banned teen mom yearbook photo from 2013

In dual (but not dueling) Comments of the Day on the same post, Chris Marchener ably carries on the ethical discussion of why it is irresponsible for teens to have children while in school and unmarried, while the Curmudgeon himself, Rick Jones, takes up my challenge and proves that some progressives understand that glamorizing self-destructive behavior is neither compassionate nor wise. Here are Chis and Rick, in that order, both delivering Comments of the Day on the post Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: “Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!”

Chris:

I cannot agree that it takes heroic courage to raise a child as a teenager but I will agree that the child made the ethical choice to treat the developing fetus as a living human being. Upon birth the child could be given up for adoption. That too is a choice.

The fact is that the act of having a child without the personal resources to care for and raise the child imposes costs not only on the child but on society at large. I will admit there are no absolutes in describing the behavioral motivations of the young mother but much has been written on the subject such that many of these young girls are using the child as a surrogate for the unconditional love that they never received themselves. To that end the baby is merely an object to satisfy a need of the teenage mother. For these mothers keeping the child not heroic it is selfish. Glorifying the (poor) choice made reinforces the belief in others that having a baby as a teen is no big deal and may actually elevate their social status.

Who exactly is taking care of the child when the teenage mother is still in school? An extended family member? Maybe. What costs are being imposed on the family member that must now care for the child because you are in school? If paid daycare is the choice who pays for that? Who pays to clothe and feed the child? Not the young mother as she has no resources. Where is the father to pay for these costs? Oh I forgot we no longer have fathers we have “baby daddies” – those irresponsible young men that make their rounds inseminating as many girls as possible to prove their manhood because they never learned from a real father what it means to be a man.

Neither the pregnant teen nor the inseminating male have the resources to pay for the food shelter and medical care for themselves or their offspring as a result of their CHOICES, which is why our social services programs costs have exploded in the last 50 years. We cannot remind young people of the negative effects of a sexual choice if we eliminate the negative effects. We have no problem stigmatizing other behavioral choices. Smokers are social pariahs. The government banned us from seeing images of people using tobacco in publications so that children would not see smoking as a glamorous lifestyle and start the habit. We have a war on obesity in which we make the overweight person feel unattractive, unwanted and a blight on a healthy society. Why? Because the claim is that both of these behaviors impose third party health care costs. So, to all those not wanting to create a stigma for unwed teen moms do you feel as strongly about the stigma we attach to those behaviors or physical characteristics?

In the past, carrying the stigma of being an unwed mother prevented both the births of children that suckle on the teat of society’s resources, and the desire for abortions because the child – I reinforce the word child – did not make the very bad choice to engage in sex until they were socially and economically responsible enough to raise the child.

I would never stigmatize the child for being born to any single person because they were not consulted beforehand. I can, however, choose to find irresponsible sexual behavior among teens to be blight on our society.

The most important thing a female can do to empower herself to achieve future success is to make good choices about her own sexual habits early on. This probably means telling her suitors to keep it in their own pants.

Now Rick:

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Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: “Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!”

teen-parents yearbook

I love the way the news media describes stories like this, with disturbing little mini-news flashes buried within. The depressing story of the Mesa High School Yearbook’s adorable feature on its graduating, unwed parents gave us many examples.

  • “Mesa yearbook photos of teen parents anger some”–wait, you mean everyone with half a brain isn’t horrified by this? At least The Arizona Republic was one of the “some,” writing in an editorial “that featuring pregnant teens in a two-page spread of photos glamorizing a life-altering mistake risks normalizing dysfunction.” Uh, yeah, I would think that would be obvious to more than “some.” News Flash! It isn’t.
  • “A representative for the district did suggest that parenting isn’t a valuable accomplishment for high schoolers,” writes ThinkProgress. He suggests it? Statistics tell us that those teen parents are more likely to drop school, more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to require government hand-outs to survive. Out-of-wedlock births increased from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies, with teen pregnancies leading the way. The reason this has happened, and few can dispute this, is society’s elimination of all significant opprobrium or disapproval of the act of pre-marital sex, teen sex, and, therefore, teenage motherhood. Helping the social pathology take root, and it is one that has disproportionately crippled the prospects of minorities, are various toxic role models: TV characters, like Murphy Brown; movie stars, singers, TV kid show stars (Britney Spears little sister), even a proud, unmarried, pregnant Congresswoman, Rep. Linda Sanchez, who uttered this fatuous justification: We’ve evolved as a society so much. The reality of single working moms is such a powerful reality!

Democrats must be so proud. Continue reading

“When Will They Ever Learn?” Department: “Baby Emma” Déjà Vu

Preston and Baby Wyatt

Preston and Baby Wyatt

Once again, an unmarried father is trying to get the courts to award him custody of his child after the mother handed the child off to adoptive parents. This issue was recently examined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, and on Ethics Alarms two years ago in its examination of the “Baby Emma” drama. Now it is in the news again, as Preston King, the 19-year-old father of “Baby Wyatt” fights for his child in the California courts

The details of these cases vary, as do the state laws governing them. In the Baby Emma case, for example, among the complexities were the fact that the state of the couple’s residence, Virginia, recognizes an unmarried father’s right to custody, while the state where the adoption took place, Utah, does not. All the cases have  in common a conflict between rights, law and ethics. Continue reading

The “Baby Emma” Saga Revisited: The Core Issue

Didnt King Solomon have a case like this once?

When the mother of the child an unmarried father co-created with her decides that she doesn’t want to/ can’t raise the child and doesn’t trust the father to raise her, is it ethical to put said child up for adoption without notifying or consulting the father?

That is the ethical issue the “Baby Emma” incident, first discussed here in an earlier post, ultimately raises. It is a question that I did not discuss in that post, focusing instead on the father’s conduct and his current plight, as self-described on his “Baby Emma” website. I made three ethical assessments, each of which are self-evident:

1. The whole situation would have probably not occurred if John Wyatt and Baby Emma’s mother had been married before conceiving a child.

2. Both of them were irresponsible to plan on having a child together without formalizing a mutual commitment to form a family and raise the child together…that apparently archaic institution known as “marriage.”

3. The mother betrayed John’s trust, deceived him, and treated him unfairly.

I also suggested that, absent a marriage, it is fair and reasonable that the mother of a newborn be able to put the child up for adoption if she deems that course better for the child than being raised by the child’s father. I did not say that was the law, or even that I would vigorously oppose a law that directed otherwise, as Virginia’s law does. I only stated that my own belief is that incentives for irresponsible parenthood are unwise. I have been asked why I focused on the issue I did, rather than the other ethical issues raised by the controversy. It was because the issue was brought to me with the presumption that John Wyatt, the father, was a blameless and unequivocal victim in the matter. My ethics alarms sounded: he has significant ethical accountability for the mess, and I explained why.

As to the answer to question above, I can only say this: it depends. The conduct of Baby Emma’s mother is mysterious and extreme. Did she panic? Did she have a mental break? Why would a lifetime friend and partner of a man conceive a child, pretend to plan to raise her with him, and then secretly negotiate to have the baby adopted and taken out of state?

I see many scenarios that could be behind her decision, which fall into three distinct categories: ethical, unethical, and too close to call: Continue reading

Love Isn’t Enough: the “Baby Emma” Saga

Too bad Baby Emma's father didn't see "Juno" first...

This, from the birth father’s perspective, is the strange story of “Baby Emma,” a newborn whisked out of Virginia by her mother to be adopted by a couple in Utah, which has unusual laws that seem to circumvent fathers’ rights in others states:

“My name is John Wyatt,  the birth father of Baby Emma Wyatt,  born February 10, 2009 in Woodbridge, Virginia.  I have never held my daughter in my arms or even been allowed to see her in person.  My daughter has never had her Daddy hold her and say “I love you” to her, or hug her and kiss her.  Baby Emma and I have been denied those precious moments together.

“Imagine this happening to you: as a 20 year old, you have been friends with the mother since second grade and you have dated since middle school. You anxiously make preparations with the mother of your child, your childhood sweetheart,  for the arrival of your new baby.  You go to the doctor’s appointments, you rub the mother’s belly and feel your baby moving and kicking in the womb.  Both of you pick out the name.  It’s so exciting, you can hardly wait for the arrival of your new baby!! You look forward to what you expect to be the happiest moment of your life, to be with the mother and baby at birth…Both of you make plans on raising the baby together.  Continue reading