Yesterday I received a note from a friend who forwarded a plea from a social worker who is fighting on behalf of a family in Israel who has been given custody of an abused child. They are a nurturing family and have given the child a normal environment in which he is now thriving.
The natural parents are Charedi and according to an informed source it seems they are not acting in the child’s best interests. They are seeking to remove the child from the custody of these nurturing foster parents for reasons pertaining only to their particular religious orientation. He would then be placed in a home for abused children.
I apologize for not posting this sooner and it may in fact be too late. I was not online most of yesterday until very late in the day and could not post until I received a reply to a question I had. But better late than never.
What follows is the letter containing that plea. For purposes of clarity - I have substituted loose English translations for the words and phrases in the plea that were transliterated Hebrew:
This is an urgent call for help, and advocacy, on behalf of a seven year old boy, who stands to be removed from a veritable foster home and placed in an institution for abused children. The child's parents are divorced; his mother carries a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder and was emotionally, verbally and physically abusive to him. Medical authorities have issued an assessment of the child indicating that, as early as two, he did not have a nurturing relationship with his mother. The mother was helped by a family.
The wife is a therapist and would work therapeutically for free with the mother. The mother asked the couple to look after her child, and, in a lawyer's office, this arrangement was confirmed. The mother was incapable for caring for him.
When he arrived, he was so traumatized from the abuse that he was initially diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder); an examining physician thought he was autistic. He was placed in the Sulam school, a special education program for children with the profile he was assumed to have.
Over time, the foster parents sensed that the boy was not developmentally delayed as thought, and worked with him. They took him out of the special ed. program and enrolled him in a mainstream school. Today, he is thriving in one of the finest schools in Har Nof.But the Ministry of Social Affairs has had it in for this healthy, caring and educated family, and has fought their every move. Their status as foster parents was never made official, because, due to the mother's instability, she never gave them an official authorization. The psychologist associated with Ministry of Social Affairs has assumed that the parents were poisoning the child against the mother, and therefore the whole orientation of the ministry towards the family has been to advocate for the mother's right to her child--despite her dysfunction.
Meanwhile, the foster parents have never spoken badly about his mother; they have enabled him to express himself regarding what he remembers going through. He has lived with his "foster" family for four years and today is a healthy child. They are set to remove him from this house on Wednesday.
Their lawyer claimed that, because theirs is a haredi family with only daughters--and it is of paramount importance to haredim to have sons--this was simply their scheme to "get a son".Rav Sternbuch, shlit"a, has encouraged the family to make an international media case regarding this matter.
Rabbi Tanchum Burton, MSW
Private Practice Counseling for Individuals, Couples and Families