Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our 27 Kids

Discovery Channel featured John and Jeannette Murphy who, in addition to raising four kids of their own  have adopted a staggering 23 children, all of whom have special needs, from blindness to several with Downs syndrome. Like most families fo this kinds, they live of welfare and subsidies and the older kids help care for the younger (something one blogger found very offensive.)  They felt "called" to help children with disabilities.

I was intrigued and found their home life not at all institutionalized, or run like little military camps, as many families so large tend to be, including the Duggars.

An adoptive mother blogger also began with intrigue but she became turned off due to the chores the kids did and the home schooling that focused more on self care and practical issues like shopping more than academics.

Interestingly, she did mention the two things that bothered me:

First was the moderator calling the children "unwanted" and mentioning a couple of times that they were children "no one wanted."

The second issue is particularly disturbing and makes the "unwanted" label glaringly wrong!

Nor did this blogger mention the controversy mentioned:  The Murphy's fought Cody's grandparents for custody for fourteen months!  The case received nationwide attention and became the subject of a 1993 made-for-TV movie starring Patty Duke called “No Child of Mine.”

Cody’s grandparents vehemently fought for custody even though it was the dying mother’s wish that John and Jeanette raise the baby when she no longer could, although this is not mentioned on the Discovery documentary but it is included in this report on Points North. Instead their explanation for the prolonged fight is that they made  commitment and could not go back on that.  They never said that they felt the child would be better cared for by them or that his grandparents were in any way inferior as care givers. The audacity and arrogance of this is glaringly in opposition to the Christian giving they do. Why on God's green earth would you keep a child from family who were willing to devote their life to their grandson and get him in private school, do anything and everything for him?

"We're trying to be servants," John Murphy said. "We're not trying to be the Messiah."

Points North also reports that the case also stirred up an angry social worker who attempted to remove all the children, claiming they were unfit caregivers. City officials stepped in and stood up for the family, calling the charges ridiculous.


SocialWrkr24/7 said...

I generally agree with you - children should be raised with family if at all possible. However, it was the Mother of this child who insisted that she would rather have her child raised by non-relatives. I think that parents have the right to decide who would be the best gaurdians for their children. We don't know why the mother chose the other family. Perhaps she had personal reasons why she did not want her parents raising her child. But, I don't think the adoptive family should be critisized for keeping "a child from family who were willing to devote their life" to him - it seems that the adoptive family has devoted their lives to the child as well. I think they were right to honor their commitment and the wishes of this child's mother.

AdoptAuthor said...

If those "dying wishes" of the mother were in writing or witnessed by anyone other than the Murphys, I might agree. However, I have also known of many people who make custody decisions based on vengeance or other motives other than the best interest of their child. Wit-hour any charges of unfitness against them, I'd say her motives are suspect. More suspect still if only heard only heard by the Murphys.

Think about the mother of missing baby Gabriel. That baby's father always wanted the child, yet she either killed the baby or more likely sold him in an illegal adoption. This was not in the child's best interest and violated the rights of his father. This is one of many cases in which mothers have given babies up for adoption despite the father wanting the child.

At the very least, the Murphys should allow the grandparents to visit. Do they??

SocialWrkr24/7 said...

Absolutely - whatever happened to baby Gabriel is a tragedy, especially to his father. I'm a firm advocate that babies should not be placed for adoption without their father's consent. That practice is far too overused and unfair to father and child.

But that is not what happened here from what I can tell - I'll be honest I don't know much more than what I read here and the links you provided. I assume that Cody was placed with his adoptive family before his mother passed away - this in and of itself is a pretty strong indication of her wishes for the child.

And yes, sometimes women do not place with family out of revenge. But sometimes women do not place with family because they had difficult experiences with their family themselves. This should be the parents' right to choose.

AdoptAuthor said...

I agree, Social Worker. IF there is a VALID reason for not wanting a child to be placed with his father or grandparents, it should be honored. But if not, it should not be. And neither of us know all the facts here.

What bothered me was the attitude expressed in the documentary I saw. The Murphys didn't even mention "dying wishes." All she said when asked why they fought for 14 months was "We made a commitment; we had to keep it. They didn't say that he had good reason for not wanting the grandparents to raise the boy. Perhaps if they had explained...but it just seemed really creepy to me...NOT giving a good reason for doing something so harsh and hurtful to the child and his grandparents. They expressed no empathy for the grandparents loss and no mention of visitation even. Off course, what is shown on tv is edited...

SocialWrkr24/7 said...

It is always hard to tell when we see something on television. I understand where you are coming from and I certainly hope that visitation is granted - it would be inappropriate not to do so.

AdoptAuthor said...

Well, the custody battle was in 1993 so if there ws any visitation it would have been mentioned. Having great difficulty anything anything on the case, but found this synopsis of the tv movie made about it:

"An often involving made for TV drama, based on a true story, and driven by persuasive performances from Patty Duke and Tracy Nelson. When a young mother (Nelson) learns her newborn child has Downs Syndrome, she makes the difficult decision to place him with a local couple who have devoted their lives to caring for children with special needs. Duke, as Nelson's mother, a woman used to getting what she wants, refuses to accept her daughter's decision and sues for legal custody. Though the film occasionally lapses into soap opera, the central relationship between Duke, who isn't afraid to play this abrasive, bullying (though well-intentioned) Mommie Dearest to the scary hilt, and Nelson, as the daughter, sadly resigned to the fact that she will never live up her to her mother's expectations, keeps it believable. Solid support from G.W. Bailey as Duke's husband and Susan Blakely and Marshall Teague as the foster parents."

However, another site says: "A twin born with Down syndrome sparks a custody battle between the infant's mother and domineering grandmother. A fact-based teleplay." And the names of the characters are not Murphy.

Also - very interesting: The Murphys moves to Atlanta to be closer to Jeanette's grandmother. How;'s that for irony? (It's in one of the articles I have a link to in the blog post.)

Christian Murphy said...

There are quite a few factual errors in this blog, as well as the comments. There's one that I feel I must correct. Cody's mother was never dying. She is alive & well and a huge part of her son's life. Cody still spends his birthdays with his twin brother. Our families are very close. Although Cody's twin has seen his grandmother on occasion, she was never a part of his life, although he was raised by his biological mother.

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