Urging Restraint in Terminating the Rights of Parents of Children in Foster Care


The effort to develop empirical underpinnings for understanding the relationship between children and their dysfunctional parents and to develop a corresponding public policy is a task of enormous proportions.Those of us who have spent a good part of our adult lives trying to fathom an equitable approach to the problem are often discouraged. I am reminded of a story about one of Albert Einstein’s students. The student visited his professor and found him in deep torment because his general unified theory of gravity was not emerging as he had hoped. The student begged Einstein not to drive himself so, and Einstein replied, “I can’t believe that God would be so malicious that He would organize the universe without some underlying principle.” A year later the student came to visit Albert Einstein again, and still found him very distressed, and laboring with his theoretical problem. He again remonstrated with him and urged him to consider that he had already made a stunning contribution to science. Albert Einstein replied “Who knows, perhaps He is a little malicious.” It is an arduous task to distill a collective wisdom out of the enlightenment offered by the findings of psychoanalysis, and by the wisdom of my own profession, social work. We may well be left with a feeling that there is a malicious force at work.

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