The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Parenting vs. Pork?

This is perhaps one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in ages. A Maryland company authorized by the state to place children with foster families has refused a foster license to a Muslim woman, because she doesn’t allow pork products in her home.

Almost two decades ago, Tashima Crudup left her grandmother’s home and entered the city’s foster care system, where she learned firsthand what makes a good mother.

As she shuffled from family to family beginning at age 8, Crudup encountered some attentive and loving foster parents, while others were unsupportive and constraining.

“I always wanted to be a foster parent,” said the 26-year-old mother of five.

In July, Crudup — a practicing Muslim — contacted Contemporary Family Services, a private company authorized by the state to place foster children with families. She cleared an initial screening process and completed 50 hours of training classes for prospective parents. But after a home visit, her application was denied.

The main reason: She doesn’t allow pork in her house.

Are you kidding me?
Here’s a woman who’s a product of the foster care system and wants to give back. She’s passed their screening process, taken the parenting classes and now they refuse her a license because a kid might end up having turkey bacon for breakfast instead of pork?

Mind you, Crudup has told a caseworker that while she doesn’t keep pork products in her home, she wouldn’t object to a child eating at school or a restaurant. Just not in her house. She also said that she would make provisions for a child to attend whatever religious services

Well, there’s no chance a vegetarian could be a foster parent, right? So much for orthodox Jews too. Right? I guess a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints would denied, because they abstain from caffeine — so, no sodas in the house. Hindus would be out of luck too, since there might not be any beef in the house. Right?

Wrong. It’s higly likely that Contemporary Family Services broke the law in denying Crudup, as the would if the denied foster licenses to vegetarians, orthodox Jews or any other group that has similar dietary restrictions.

Officials from the state Department of Human Resources, which oversees Maryland’s foster care system and hired the private company to manage the licensing process, notified Contemporary Family Services on Wednesday that it appeared to have violated several state laws.

“The law does not permit the agency to make a determination solely on the type of food served in a home,” said Nancy Lineman, a spokeswoman for DHR. “If this was us, we would not disqualify someone from being a foster parent based on these circumstances.”

Of course not. Because the Dept. of Human Services knows how many children in Maryland are waiting for homes. Their own website says there were 9,074 kids in foster placement as of January 2009. According to AdoptUSKids, there’s another 10,0867 waiting for placement in foster homes.

What CFS’s actions boil down to is bigotry.

According to the agency’s own report, the couple had a spacious home in which they were raising five children, had completed 30 hours of training as foster parents and had no criminal record. Mr. Moore was employed as a truck driver, and Ms. Crudup, who had been a foster child herself and wanted to give back some of the love she had received as a kid, was a stay-at-home mom. And though the family attended a mosque in Baltimore regularly, and the women wore traditional head coverings, there was no suggestion they were religious zealots. Ms. Crudup even said she would have no objection to her foster children eating pork in venues outside her home, including school outings or restaurants.

Nevertheless, they were turned down for a license. The reason? “Because of concerns raised by statements made during the home study interview, specifically your explicit request to prohibit pork products within your home environment,” the agency’s letter stated.

The ACLU says that decision was motivated purely by bias, since there’s no reasonable basis for denying the couple a license merely because they refuse to serve pork at home. Under that standard, Orthodox Jews, who also eschew pork, couldn’t become foster parents either; nor could many Catholics, who refuse meat on Friday, Hindus, for whom the cow is sacred, or vegetarians (not to mention vegans). Since nobody has ever suggested that any of these groups are unfit to be foster parents because of their dietary habits, it is safe to wonder whether Ms. Crudup and Mr. Moore have been singled out simply because of anti-Muslim bigotry.

There’s no indication that this family is any different from any other family practicing their particular faith. And no good reason not to place foster children with this family. No reason except bigotry.

At a minimum, city and state officials should thoroughly investigate this agency as well as other agencies involved in the state’s foster program, determine if similar cases have occurred, and take appropriate action.

One Comment

  1. This is outrageous. I hope action is taken to rectify this situation soon.