Making a decision on an ethical dilemma

Making Ethical Judgments in a Quandary Situation

Making a judgment in an ethical quandary situation usually necessitates extreme prudence. This is due to the fact that the decision made may have long-term consequences for the parties concerned. It is beneficial for a decision maker to arrive at an ethical answer that is appropriate for the situation at hand. In our instance, a nine-year-old child is being reunified with her natural parents, who are unable to care for her due to drug addiction. After a few years, they were drug-free and began a short process to reclaim custody of their daughter, and the court decided in their favor. The child returned to them but against her will. This is truly an ethical dilemma as the child had already known that the foster parents were her parents and did not know her natural parents. I think that ethics does not support the law in this case and this will be proved by using the care-based and ends based schools of ethics to determine who the nine-year-old girl is supposed to live with.

Ethics of the Ends-Based School

The ends-based school of ethics states that "Do what's best for the greatest number of people" and the care-based school of ethics claims that "Do what you want others to do to you". Considering the ends-based thinking one should make a decision that generates the most benefit to the greatest number of people. The care-based thinking enables one to make an ethical solution by considering how the decision would affect you if you are the one affected. To come up with an ethical solution, both the ends based and the care based schools of ethics will help in determining what is right and what is wrong.

The Impact on the Child's Development

The nine-year-old girl was placed under the foster home when she was an infant. The parents want her back after she has lived with her foster parents for more than 5 years. According to the Children Action Network, the average period for a child to stay in a foster home is 2 years (Studios, 2011). The case description does not provide an information where the natural parent used to visit the child or even take care of her needs. This shows that it may be difficult for the child to be comfortable and forget the foster parents even in the presence of the natural parents. As the child had started regarding the foster parents as the real parents, separating her with them can affect her development ("Parents Guide Foster Care", 2017). This is because she would have a hard time to reunite with her natural parents who may have different personal values and lifestyles from the foster parents.

The Care-Based Decision

Using the care-based school of ethics, I would make a decision to let the nine-year girl continue living with the foster parents. This is because even if it were me, I would have a hard time to forget them and start seeing my natural parents as my real parents. This is because I have stayed for many years without knowing them and leaving the parents I have lived and known for those years may even affect my future negatively (Kezar, 2008). In the case of the natural parents, I would advise them to accept the girl to live with the foster parents whom she has known and has been acquainted with them rather than taking her home and interrupt with her psychological development and her future.

The Ends-Based Decision

Considering ends-based school of ethics, I would come up with an ethical solution which would benefit the greatest number of people affected (Doppelt, 2012). The parties affected here are the nine-year-old girl, foster parents, and the natural parents. To be fair and justice and putting the ethics theory in consideration, the girl would continue living with the foster parents. The foster parents treat the girl as their real daughter and the daughter regards them as the real parents. Separating them would not be fair and thus for the benefit of both the foster parents and the child, continuing to stay together would be the best option.


Doppelt, B. (2012). The Power of Sustainable Thinking. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Kezar, A. (2008). Rethinking leadership in a complex, multicultural, and global environment. Sterling, Va.: Stylus Pub.

Parents’ Guide Foster Care. (2017). Retrieved 4 May 2017, from

Studios, C. (2011). Children's Action Network: A Project of the Tides Center. Retrieved 4 May 2017, from

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