Solomon's Sword: Two Families and the Children the State Took Away

Solomon's Sword: Two Families and the Children the State Took Away

Solomon's Sword: Two Families and the Children the State Took Away

Solomon's Sword: Two Families and the Children the State Took Away

Synopsis

In an era when headlines often seem dominated by horrific stories about abused children,Solomon's Swordweaves together the elements of two painful custody battles into a memorable book that no reader who cares about children will be able to put aside. The first story unfolds around Gina Pellegrino, who, in 1991, hours after giving birth to a daughter, abandons the child in a Connecticut hospital, and Cynthia and Jerry LaFlamme, a childless New Haven couple who have waited five years for an adoptive baby. When asked by a caseworker to name their highest priority--do they prefer a boy, a girl, an infant, a toddler--the LaFlammes say they simply want a "risk-free baby," one who can't be taken from them under any circumstances. Four months after the baby girl has come to live with them--and soon before their adoption would become legal--Pellegrino reappears, hoping to reclaim the child. Next, Michael Shapiro describes the Melton sisters, living with nineteen children amid squalor and vermin in a drafty Chicago rowhouse. One snowy night in February 1994, policemen discover the children and evacuate them as a TV camera rolls, searing into our collective conscience shameful images of the officers emerging from the house with child after child in their arms. Though the children  are not victims of outright abuse, their neglect compels authorities to hold the threat of permanent removal over their hapless mothers. In examining the collision between Gina Pellegrino's belated commitment to her daughter and the LaFlammes' threatened adoption of the girl, as well as the Meltons' inability to understand their parental shortcomings, Shapiro meets judges, lawyers, social workers, clergy, and therapists who must advocate a course of action not only in these two cases, but in thousands more every year across America. Reading about these dedicated people who are in the vanguard of new approaches to the problem of mistreated children will leave readers hopeful that we are finally learning how to ameliorate this enduring national disgrace.Solomon's Swordsheds new light on a dire social problem in a powerful book that will influence public policy for years to come.
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