The dilemma discussed in the present paper deals with a married couple addicted to drugs in the past and rehabilitated later. Since the parents could not care for their daughter, she was placed in a foster home. Her foster parents loved her as their own child, and the girl loved them back. In the course of time, the natural parents regained custody through legal action, although it was against the girl’s will. The question is whether ethics correlates to the law under such circumstances. In this context, the ethics of care and the consequentialists theory will be applied.
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As one of the moral theories, the ethics of care focuses on multiple questions of how people should live their lives (Philip, Rogers, & Weller, 2012). It is care that becomes the most significant concept. According to the theory, it is always necessary to put oneself in the other person’s shoes and think about everybody’s feelings. All the participants are to value each other’s opinions and find a compromise. Another theory refers to consequentialism. The main idea is that one should choose what leads to the best result in a certain situation (Peterson, 2013). Taking into account possible outcomes is the key criterion for action.
In respect to the dilemma, the care-based approach is also present, but in relation to the biological parents only. They feel guilty and understandably wish to correct their mistakes in getting their child back. Ethically, the termination of parents’ rights is unacceptable when they can take care of their children. Although they did wrong in the past, the court gave them an opportunity to prove they mended their ways. However, the decision failed to take into consideration the girl’s and the foster parents’ interests. In the first place, it is the child who should be taken care of. Thus, the law is partially relevant to ethics.
As for the consequentialist theory, the pros and cons of sending the child back to her birth parents should be weighed. For instance, one should pay attention to potential risks connected with the parents’ past. Another thing is the girl’s reaction: her behavior might become more rebellious if the biological parents do not establish contact with her. At the same time, positive consequences are also important. The opportunity to reunite with parents is valuable, although small children do not realize it. Later on, the girl might be thankful for it. It is also extremely important for the biological parents who attempt to lead a good life. It can help extensively because a child is a motivation for a parent to refine oneself. Giving two people a second chance is a priority because everyone who used to be wrong but changes for the better ethically deserves it. Thus, ethics and law do not contradict each other in this case.
To sum up, there is no doubt that in case of dilemmas, decisions should be based on ethics. However, different ethical schools offer various decisions. With reference to the biological parents who regained custody, the care-based ethics partly correlates to the legal rules, because only the birth parents’ feelings are recognized. As for the consequentialists approach, the law also corresponds to ethics. The parents are likely to take care of their children and lead an honorable life. Since more positive outcomes are expected, the court decision is made in favor of the biological parents. Therefore, this reasoning may be considered ethical.
Peterson, M. (2013). The dimensions of consequentialism: Ethics, equality and risk. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Philip, G., Rogers, C., & Weller, S. (2012). Understanding care and thinking with care.
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In C. Rogers & S. Weller (Eds.), Critical approaches to care: Understanding caring relations, identities and cultures (pp. 1-12). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.