Saddleback Church co-founder Kay Warren is weeping over a story of Illinois foster parents being forced to give back their child in order to get him mental health help.
“Weeping. Horrible suffering for some of our nation’s most vulnerable children,” Warren wrote on Twitter last week.
“Untenable choices for loving, committed parents. Which lawmakers will right this wrong?” she asked.
The story, published in NPR last week, concerns Illinois parents Toni and Jim Hoy, who adopted their son, Daniel, through the foster care system when he was a toddler.
Daniel, who is now 24, needed severe mental health treatment in 2007, however, forcing the Hoys to give up parental custody to the state, as they could not pay the $100,000 a year treatment required.
Jim Hoy explained that even though the family had private insurance, and Daniel had Medicaid coverage, neither wanted to pay for the treatments. The couple had no choice but to send their child back into the foster care system, where the child welfare agency would be obligated to pay for the services.
"To this day, its the most gut-wrenching thing I've ever had to do in my life," the father said, recalling having to take 12-year-old Daniel to the hospital and declare that they were legally abandoning him.
"I was crying terribly. But it was the only way we figured we could keep the family safe," he said.
NPR noted that two-thirds of states do not keep records of how many families are forced into giving up custody for children to get mental health services. A Government Accountability Office study found that in 2001, over 12,000 families in 19 states had to take that option, however.
Other Christian child adoption advocates, such as Kelly Rosati of KMRConsulting, also slammed the health care situation in America that is leading to such stories.
“No family should ever have to make this choice to get their child the help he needs. No child should ever be traumatized like this,” Rosati wrote on Twitter.
“This public policy reality is beyond wicked — and should be changed, now,” she added.
Warren has been outspoken with her husband, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, about the struggles parents face raising children with mental illness.
The couple, who in 2013 suffered tragedy with the suicide of their 27-year-old son, Matthew, talked about the importance of "situational leadership" when it comes to parenting in October.
"Certain people, you draw the best out of them one way, and certain others you draw the best out of them in another way, and every one of your children of course are totally different," Rick Warren said.
Kay Warren added that living with a sibling with a mental illness can be difficult for children, and so being ready to apologize is important.
"If we can show grace to each other and we can be willing to be humble and ask for forgiveness, that goes a long way keeping hurt from moving into resentment," she said.
Rick Warren added that parents also need outlets for their emotions, in the form of days off and vacations, in order to look after themselves.