School Calls CPS on Mom for Taking Second Grader to Adopt a Brother

Now I understand there's some debate on whether or not it's OK to take a kid out of school for vacations or even extracurricular activities. I've had varied opinions on the subject over the years, but one thing I think I would never have a problem with is a family taking a trip to adopt a new child. Especially in the case of Jessica Smith, who was brought to court on child neglect charges after taking her son to adopt a new little brother.

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Smith's son Ziggy had been begging for a new little brother for three years, and the single DC-based mom finally had an opportunity to expand her family. She had adopted Ziggy -- given name Zorigt -- from a Mongolian orphanage, and when she got the call that another toddler boy was available for adoption, she didn't want to miss her chance. 

But she was faced with a dilemma -- take Ziggy out of school for a few weeks, or give up the opportunity to offer a home to a baby boy who needed one.

She reached out to the DC school where Ziggy attended second grade and believed that she had everything taken care of for independent study during the weeks he would not be in class. She got approval from Principal Peter Young of Brent Elementary School on Capitol Hill to take Ziggy out of the country to adopt his new little brother. They went with a six-inch-high pile of homework and even hired a tutor for the time they were in Mongolia.

Bases covered, right? Not so much, unfortunately. Thanks to super strict truancy laws in DC, Smith was charged with child neglect for keeping Ziggy out of school.

Not only did the single mom have no one to ask for help in watching Ziggy while she was gone -- she wanted to take him back to his birthplace. She felt very connected to the place where she had found her first son and wanted him to share the experience with her of visiting and bringing home a new sibling.

Yet she was charged with child neglect, a year and a half after the trip, after receiving no warnings whatsoever. The charges were eventually dropped, thank goodness, but geez, why were they even made in the first place?

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This mama did everything right and had the best reason ever to take her son out of his second grade classroom. She made sure his education was taken care of. In case you were wondering, Ziggy finished out second grade just fine and went onto third last August.

They brought home a child, one from Ziggy's birthplace. The adopted brothers will always share the special connection of where they came from. It was the trip of a lifetime for Jessica Smith and her son, and the fact that she got slapped with neglect charges is ludicrous.

Yes, truancy laws are supposed to help kids -- to keep parents accountable for keeping their kids out of school. But this is not a truancy case and does not deserve to be treated as one. This mom had every right to take her kid out of school to go adopt his little brother, and it should not have become the issue that it did.

Do you think this mom had a legitimate reason to take her son out of school?

 

Image via spDuchamp/Flickr

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