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Letters to the Editor

Demand reform in foster system

| Friday, Aug. 15, 2003

The law as it exists presumes the best solution is to reunite the family. Most of these kids don't come from a "family."

Who forgot Kristen Tatar• The answer is everyone did. The tiny 4-year-old found starved to death and stuffed in a cooler in her back yard fell through the cracks of an antiquated system with antiquated laws and understaffed offices. She became the victim of laws that presume rather than prove the parents fit and was sent to people who had repeatedly proven that they hated this child even though they were the biological parents.

The parents who loved her were some of the foster parents who cared for her, but who had no claim to her and could not protect her from whom she needed protection. This child was in foster care from the time she was an infant, when she was discovered severely neglected and deformed. Physical therapy and the love and attention of the fostering community made her well and strong.

The system needs to change, and it takes all who read this to demand changes from lawmakers and to remind everyone they meet to contact their legislators and push for reform of the foster system. The law as it exists presumes the best solution is to reunite the family. Most of these kids don't come from a "family," only a biologically linked unit. The ability to conceive does not guarantee a family, as is proven by legalized abortion.

There is no excuse for a caseworker not to recognize one of his or her children by sight, nor is there any reason to assume everything is OK when the child cannot be produced on demand. Children who have been severely abused or neglected cannot be turned back over to the parents with a file marked "case closed." These parents need to be closely monitored for at least a year. Failure to comply with doctor appointments or CYS visitations need to be considered as contempt of court and dealt with accordingly, in addition to termination of parental rights.

If this seems severe, I ask everyone to remember the "Tatar tot" locked up alone in a room, slowly starving to death, crying for mothers who loved her, not understanding why they deserted her, and becoming weaker as days go by, undoubtedly lying in her own waste, then hidden in a cooler like so much unwanted garbage.

This was the fate of the child I loved, whom I was not allowed to keep, who sat on my knee as I read to her, who giggled with glee as she opened presents or played with other children, little blond curls bouncing on her head as she chased and played.

She had a health problem that was resolved, and she should have had a long life ahead of her. She was loving and lovable. This was Krissy, not the sickly child that has been described.

She was an angel in disguise. Please don't let her death be forgotten. Don't allow another child to fall victim to these monstrous types of people disguised as parents. Demand justice for Kristen. Call or write your legislator today .

Eileen Condie
Hempfield Township

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