Education: Who's a Good Parent?

"We love Alice Marie," pleaded Richard Combs, 25, a husky sheet-metal worker of Old Bridge, N.J. But the plea was not enough for New Jersey's Board of Child Welfare. Last week, in the state's second highest court, the board moved to deny Gloria and Dick Combs's dearest desire—to adopt their foster child, a gay, elfin four-year-old. The board's reason: Alice Marie, according to social workers, is too bright to remain in the Combses' "television-centered" household.

An abandoned child,Alice Marie has lived with the Combses since the age of ten months. Though the Combses agreed not to attempt adopting her, they found the...

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