For Gov. Matt Bevin in his efforts to fix Kentucky’s broken system for abused and neglected kids and for the foster and adoptive families willing to do what it takes to love and care for those kids, I offer Zig Ziglar’s admonition: “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”
Enter the Lexington Herald-Leader. The newspaper’s editorial writers have consistently expressed disagreement with Kentucky’s governor. Bevin believes those disagreements have begun to color not only opinion pieces but also news articles in the Herald-Leader and other left-leaning media outlets. Who could disagree?
While frustration between politicians and journalists is nothing new, a recent sucker punch in the Herald-Leader proved that Bevin’s frustrations are justified. With a level of insensitivity I have rarely seen in print, the Herald-Leader attempted to argue that kids in the foster care system are essentially fine because “the vast majority of Kentucky children awaiting adoption are already living with their ‘forever families."
Never mind the fact that it typically takes 3 to 4 years from the time children enter the system until they are adopted, and all the while the confusion and uncertainty about their future is deepening their traumatic and lasting emotional scars.
And also never mind the fact that the Herald-Leader has used a piece of statistical data to totally mislead the reader. While it is true that most kids who get adopted out of the system are usually in the foster care of the adoptive family, the Herald-Leader ignores the trauma experienced by kids with multiple placements, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few years, before they finally got to that “forever family” and also ignores the plight of kids who age out of the system never being adopted.
If it wasn’t enough to skew the facts in an attempt to make Bevin seem like a nitwit for suggesting the process of adoption needs to be expedited, the Herald-Leader then takes a personal shot at what is clearly one of the most painful experiences of the Bevin family’s past with these four sentences:
"It’s also important to build policy on data, not just anecdote. Bevin often speaks of how his family adopted four children from Ethiopia after being rejected to adopt a Kentucky child. Bevin has said it 'crushed' him to think the child was unloved. "While there’s no way to know because of privacy laws, it seems likely that the child would have been placed in a home that, after evaluation, was deemed better suited to her needs."
In the bizarre thinking of the Herald-Leader, the little girl needing to be adopted was obviously better off being protected from the Bevins. How ludicrous. The Bevins were clearly able to provide a loving, stable home to this child, as is evident by the way the children they have since adopted are flourishing.
But that isn’t the point, is it? The point is that the Herald-Leader is bent on discrediting Matt Bevin, even if it means twisting something as noble as the desire to adopt an orphan.
I can’t help but wonder if the author of the Herald-Leader’s hit piece has ever been a foster parent, ever taken in an orphan. Has the author ever listened to a little boy or girl cry themselves to sleep night after night, always feeling alone even when, more than anything, the foster family wants the child to feel their love? Ever sat for hours on end in the courthouse hoping the latest social worker assigned to “the case” has had time to actually open the case file? And praying the judge will do more than simply set another court date? Abraham Lincoln one stated, “He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, the account of Jesus healing a man’s “withered” hand is followed up with this statement about Jesus’ critics: “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him” (Matthew 12:14).
Criticizing and condemning people with whom we disagree, no matter how much good they are doing, does little for a man with a withered hand or a child with a broken a heart. The Herald-Leader seems intent on trying to destroy Gov. Bevin all the while trying to convince its shrinking number of subscribers that what they are reading is news. It isn’t.
Paul Chitwood is the executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.