A New Threat in the War on Family?

I came home at lunch today to find my wife talking to some of our good family friends. When they left she began to ask me if I had heard about the Tutt family. Being in front of a computer all day and being somewhat tuned in to the news world, she assumed that I had. If I had, I certainly did not give the story the attention it deserved.

Christina Tutt seems to be a miracle of a woman. According to this article she followed her calling to take in children who needed it the most. She felt called to take kids with traumatizing life histories and certain special needs into her family, rescuing them from a childhood in the foster care system. Christina spent time at the University of North Texas learning how to handle these children. She worked with Child Protective Services, going above and beyond their requirements and going out of her way to help them when they found a child that really needed the help. She works with a non-profit called Safe Families who appear to be focused on short term care for children whose parents need time to get back on their feet and who need time to avoid the stressors that can result in abusive or neglectful situations.

According to the Texas Home School Coalition website: “The Tutts are a Christian family who have five biological children, three adopted children, and one in the process of private adoption. (Three of the biological children are grown and living outside the home.)”

That’s six of their own kids at home. In September, they were hosting a sibling group of 5, one of which has autism, through Safe Families (who works with CPS). They also had an infant they were fostering at the request of CPS, who knew that they already had 11 children in the house.

It seems that this was nothing new for this family. They saw it as part of their calling to take care of the kids that needed it the most. Christina also home schools all of these kids. A noble decision, considering their family and socioeconomic backgrounds would not likely lead to success in mainstream education in Texas. The Texas public education system is overcrowded, and kids with special needs, or who are already behind, don’t usually have much of a chance of getting caught up.

On September 21st, the autistic child made it out the front door. One of the children stayed with him, while the others went to get the dad for help. The dad got in the car and went to find them. The children found a police officer first. The police officers brought them home and everyone was happy! The children knew that policemen were there to help and trusted them to take care of them, and everyone lived happily ever after…

Except that’s not what happened.

The police officers saw how many kids there were and called CPS. From there, a CPS agent came out and looked around and said that everything was fine. There was a follow up on Oct. 31 and that should have been the end of it. CPS only takes children if there is an imminent threat to their well-being.

On Nov. 21, a week after a hearing that the Tutt’s were not even represented at, 3 cars of armed constables came and took all the children from the Tutt family home without even letting them put on their shoes.

Since these children were taken, there have been several hearings. There have been no charges filed. No accusations of abuse or neglect. It seems that the only issue that the courts have addressed is the fact that these children are homeschooled. The arguments in the hearings included attacking Mrs. Tutt for not having submitted an approved curriculum, not having submitted grades to the state, and not having the children participate in standardized testing.

Not only are these transgressions not required in the State of Texas, there is actually no system even in place to do these things in the State of Texas, according to the Texas Home School Coalition. Homeschoolers are on their own. We have some awesome homeschoolers! We also have some horrible public schools (I should know, I survived one of them and worked with students that were attending others.)

Now, if that wasn’t enough, our family friends were going to go down to the courthouse to pray for this family during today’s hearing. They chose not to. Why, you ask? They have “too many” kids in the eyes of modern urban society, and they homeschool them. They are some of the smartest, most well-adjusted young people that I have ever met in my life. But, their family is now afraid to be noticed, because apparently the police and the courts now get to decide how a family should look.

My dad had 5 brothers. My wife’s dad had more than that. My wife’s mom was one of 16, I think. (I have a hard time counting that high) At her family gatherings, 80 people within 3 generations is not uncommon.

They are for the most part healthy, holy people. They’re not victims of neglect or abuse. If anything, the attention they received from all of those family members helped them feel a sense of belonging, a place.

I am appalled that people who trust in God to help them raise good, healthy children are being attacked instead of praised and assisted. I am horrified that large home-schooled families are afraid to be seen instead of being proud of their holy image.

An update for the Texas Home School Coalition from yesterday, January 6 is here.

The latest update on the Tutt family, post hearing today, January 7, is here on the Support the Tutts Facebook page.

What do you guys think?

In case you were interested, or in case you missed it, as usual with internet causes, there are petitions involved. There is one on the THSC website at the bottom of the article here, and one at change.org here. (Be careful, change.org tries to suck you in and get you to sign a bunch of petitions you may have no interest in – don’t get sucked in!)

 

Scott Dougherty

Scott Dougherty is the Director of Ministry Development for Perpetual Motion Ministries and a co-founder of Project YM. His professional ministry career has included time as a camp missionary, Jr. High Youth Minister, Diocesan YM Special Initiative Director, RCIA Director, and Coordinator of Faith Formation for Children and Adults. Scott has a young family that includes his 4 kids; Jonah Thomas, Gabriel Joseph, Lucy Anne, and newest addition Francis Kelly III. He would be incapable of completing the simplest of tasks if not for his amazing wife Jennifer. He travels the country consulting with ministry professionals and developing programs designed to engage the unique charisms of each parish.


Scott Dougherty


Scott Dougherty is the Director of Ministry Development for Perpetual Motion Ministries and a co-founder of Project YM. His professional ministry career has included time as a camp missionary, Jr. High Youth Minister, Diocesan YM Special Initiative Director, RCIA Director, and Coordinator of Faith Formation for Children and Adults. Scott has a young family that includes his 4 kids; Jonah Thomas, Gabriel Joseph, Lucy Anne, and newest addition Francis Kelly III. He would be incapable of completing the simplest of tasks if not for his amazing wife Jennifer. He travels the country consulting with ministry professionals and developing programs designed to engage the unique charisms of each parish.



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