Better parents

Abandoned, unschooled and living on the Memphis streets, Michael Oher was taken in by a wealthy white family who tutored him, taught him how to behave and enabled him to qualify (just barely) for a college football scholarship that’s expected to lead to a NFL career. In a City Journal review of Blind Side, Michael Lewis’ book on football, Steven Malanga focuses on the intensive parenting that changed Oher’s life.

Michael Oher found a family under the most extraordinary circumstances, a family with both the will and the resources to reverse years of neglect. But Lewis makes clear . . . that many more kids like Oher fall behind because no government bureaucracy or program can provide what he received. In case anyone has any doubts, Lewis lays it all out in perhaps the book’s most perceptive lines: “There was a new force in Michael Oher’s life: a woman paying extremely close attention to him who had an eye for detail, a nose for trouble, the heart of a lion, and the will of a storm trooper. A mother.”

Oher found that family only because a Christian school saw his potential for football glory — he is very large and very fast — and gave him a scholarship.

Still, more children from desperately dysfunctional families — Oher’s single mother is an addict — could be freed for adoption earlier in life and given a chance.

Adoptive parents “invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents do,” according to a new national study published in the American Sociological Review. Adoptive parents spend more time reading to their children, talking to them about their problems and helping with homework; they’re more likely to eat together and go to cultural events.

Even when researchers took into account the financial edge of adoptive parents, they still did better than biological parents. Compared to single-parent and step-parent families, adoptive parents were rated much better.

About Joanne


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    So parents should swap children? Years ago I might have been tempted.

  2. Walter,

    You beat me to it.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    “Still, more children from desperately dysfunctional families — Oher’s single mother is an addict — could be freed for adoption earlier in life and given a chance.”

    But if a black kid was freed for adoption at age 2 instead of age 6, would it help? What kind of a demand is there for black two-year-olds born to addicted mothers?

  4. Hispanic females have the highest illegitimate rate in the nation. This year alone I’ve had four pregnant teens in my classes, including a T/A, and there are at least three more that have already had kids. If these teen mothers did what’s best for their children, i.e., give them up for adoption, we might eventually begin to see a decline in the cholo population in my district. However, Hispanic females rarely, if at all, do what’s best for their children. The conversation always centers around whether or not the pregnant teen will finish high school blah blah blah, not what will become of an infant born to a fifteen-year-old with no father in the home.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    You will never know if you don’t ask, will you? Not eery adopter of a Black child is a Madona.

  6. I’m an adoptive parent myself. My wife and I adopted two girls from China, our first at age eight months and our second when she was 13 months old. I can’t speak to the “demand” for black children, but I can say that the entire process of domestic adoption in the US is a mess. It’s extremely expensive — much moreso than going with China, although not quite as bad as some other countries — highly uncertain, and very poorly handled. There is a very large number of people out there who want to be parents but for some reason or another choose adoption; I think a lot more kids here in US would be adopted, even at ages 6+, if the system just worked more smoothly.

  7. Cardinal Fang says:

    “Hispanic females rarely, if at all, do what’s best for their children. ”

    And with a few keystrokes you condemn the entire group.

    It seems to me that all the mothers who send their kids to the school Joanne writes about, DCP, are doing what’s right for their children, and they’re all Hispanic.

    Do Hispanic teenagers have a higher rate of getting pregnant, or is it just that they have a lower rate of getting abortions?

  8. THE NYT had a great story about Oher and his family. The thing that concerns me is when he signs an NFL contract, his worthless bio-relations will come out of the woodwork for their cut.

  9. Thanks for the link, Kate. I noticed that at the very end Michael Lewis, who wrote the book and the article, says Oher’s IQ score, initially measured at 80, rose 20 to 30 points with the help of intensive nurturing and tutoring.

  10. Cardinal Fang says:

    Reading the NYT article, Oher seems like such a nice kid who had such an awful life. I’m happy that it seems to be ending up well. But I can’t help thinking about all the other kids in his situation who had just as awful a life, but didn’t happen to be 6’6″, 310 pounds and explosively fast.

    Tutors ended up teaching him to read and write. They could teach other failing kids too.

    And what’s going on with those bogus Brigham Young “courses”? What a scam they are.