Three years ago yesterday, the birth of twin girls in a local hospital set into motion the demise of a police chief's career, the heartbreaking separation from his family and a smudge on a police department that only now is beginning to shake off the effects of the whole mess.
Barry Carpenter, who was the police chief in Martins Ferry, now sits in prison because of his involvement in several jury-declared crimes revolving around the surrogate mother of the twins born locally. The twin girls belong to Hollywood star couple Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick who swooped in and collected their children, probably never to set foot in the Ohio Valley again.
While I don't need to get into the details of this sad case, the short of it is that a once-respected police chief allowed his human weakness to overshadow common sense and his police training. I feel bad for the chief and his family. I also wonder if those babies - now toddlers - will ever know the uproar their births caused so many here in the Ohio Valley. In a way, they too are the unwitting victims of their unconventional births.
And that's where I'm going with all of this. Every day, every minute, children are born on this planet into circumstances deemed less than perfect or simply filled with chaos. While U.S. lawmakers have given parents the right to choose between life and abortion, babies don't have a say when assigned parents.
I've never met a baby I didn't like, but there are a lot of parents who will never make my Christmas card list. Each and every day we continue to read about the abuses of children, even the murders of innocent infants, at the hands of their parents.
If only these parents would reach out to the many organizations available to help when child rearing overwhelms. them. An infant can be left at a fire station or hospital and receive the life he or she deserves. There are options.
Most parents get it. They understand the immense responsibility that is given to them when their child is placed into their arms. It is scary and the most difficult job a person will ever do. You can take all the parenting courses and read all the baby books, but it's definitely a learn-as-you-go job.
I hail from a family of 12 children. I've dealt with the prejudices of people who think my parents were awful people to have that many children. Yet I grew up knowing many other large families who understood and accepted each sibling as another gift from God. We never sought out welfare or food stamps. We ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and enjoyed them. We didn't bat an eye at hand-me-down clothes. We were never lonely for playmates.
And while we tested our parents many times, we never worried that they would murder us in our sleep.
It's up to all of us to look out for the children in our communities. Don't be afraid to get involved. It's just what you do to protect the innocent.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.