I was thinking about family this week. In truth, I think about family a lot – my own, mostly. But recently, it was the stories of two very different families that caught my attention and reminded me of just how important family truly is.
Morris Catholic High School senior Rachel Canning was in court last week to sue her parents. The 18-year old is claiming that her parents abandoned her by throwing her out of their home. She also believes her parents were responsible for her eating disorder, alleging that her mother called her "fat."
Rachel wants her parents to provide immediate financial support that includes payment for college, medical bills, legal fees and weekly child support in the amount of $654.00. But the parents just are buying it.
According to Mr. and Mrs. Canning, Rachel is a wildly rebellious teenager struggling with alcohol and hanging around with a troublesome boyfriend. Their daughter refuses to live by the family rules of respect, doing some chores and a curfew. Apparently that was too much for Rachel who left the house, of her own accord, in October.
During her court appearance last week, the audience listened while the judge read an expletive-laden and vicious voicemail that Rachel left for her mother. When he was finished, the judge said, "Have you ever in your experience seen such gross disrespect for a parent? I don't see it in my house." He went on to say, "What kind of parents would the Cannings be if they didn't try to set down some strict rules? "
It wasn't a good day for Rachel. The judge denied immediate financial relief and warned her that her request would probably be turned down based on the evidence presented so far. In the meantime, her parents are bruised emotionally and devastated. The judge rightly noted that, "'it appears more energy has been utilized at this point to tear apart this family than try to figure out how this family can somehow be brought back together."
Compare the Canning family story to the German family seeking asylum in the United States because their home country doesn't allow home schooling. They knew they faced the strong possibility of losing custody of their children if they stayed in Germany.
Coming to America, the Romeikes hoped their Christian values would be protected and they could continue homeschooling. Last fall, the U.S. Sixth circuit Court of Appeals denied their claim, leaving one last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Monday of last week, the high court denied a petition to hear the case, meaning the Romeikes would face deportation. When the word of the denial made the national news, the public outcry was swift and clear – let the family stay! On Tuesday, the same day Rachel was in court, the Department of Homeland Security granted indefinite deferred-action status to the family – meaning they can stay! Mike Farris, of the Home School Legal Defense association, said the decision by DHS could only be credited "to almighty God." When I asked Mike what the legal reasoning was for the reversal, he told me, "there wasn't any!" Clearly, the government's reversal was nothing short of a miracle.
Two different families, two markedly different outcomes. D. L. Moody was right when he said, "I believe the family was established long before the church, and my duty is to my family first." How right he was!