Don't Blame Postal Service for P.O. Closings

The Page 1 article "Rural American Post Offices Campaign For Deliverance From Closing" (Dec. 20) wrongly blames the United States Postal Service. The article focuses on a symptom instead of the causes of neglect and abandonment of small-town USA that close post offices.

It is futile and just plain incorrect to blame the USPS or Wal-Mart when one's town post office has been closed, one's Main Street boarded up, the town's outer fringes "subdivisioned" and "strip-malled." Both the post office and corporate America merely react to a town's missed opportunities, filling in the voids where townspeople have failed to grasp the reins of their own identity and destiny.

Those who wish to continue the privilege of living in small-town USA must become savvy in microeconomics and rural sociology. Put simply, small-town dwellers must support their local retailers and service businesses. If townspeople do not support their own Main Street, post office closure is all but assured.

The price of small-town living has come to require living in one's small town, participating in one's community, cutting auto trips dramatically, garaging one's car, and walking, biking, or rollerblading to the post office!

Sue Collester

Elsah, Ill.

The article places the Postal Service between a rock and a hard place. The Postal Service is mandated to "break even" under the 1970 Reform Act, yet the same law mandates that no post office can be closed because it operates at a deficit. What business can survive with such laws? Hundreds of the post offices cited in the article don't do enough business to pay overhead, so the funds must come from other places. The majority of the people who run the Postal Service are well-intentioned, hard-working professionals attempting to do what would be impossible in the private sector. For now, at least those small towns still have their post offices - and rightly so.

Joseph R. Sontgerath

Vancouver, Wash.

Adoptive parent speaks out

The author of "Why Few Foster Kids Find Adoptive Homes" (Dec. 23) couldn't have said it better.

I first bumped into the foster care/adoption system more than 25 years ago, adopted three children (internationally, because the system found my husband and me ineligible for local adoption as a result of already having given birth to two children and presumably being able to produce more), and founded and directed two adoption agencies for about 10 years in the '70s and '80s. Today, I am happily away from those services, but I'll forever think about the hundreds of thousands of children trapped in a system that does not, despite all protestations, have their best interest as its priority.

The US foster care system suffers from all the ills the author writes about: turf-protecting bureaucracies, money spent on administration and not on children, and this absurd notion that children in foster care must at almost all costs be returned to their birth parents - only to suffer more neglect and abuse and even death.

I cannot tell you how often I've come up against people in power whose peculiar policies keep children from having permanent, loving families. A child cannot be adopted by someone in an adjacent county, because the county that has custody of him wants to keep him available to its own residents. When he finally makes it into the state system, it's probably at least six to 12 months since he came into care. Then, in at least some states, his case must be kept there for another 12 to 18 months or so before a family in another state can be considered for adoption. And in another country? Forget it; that just doesn't happen at all!

The "recipe for reform" may sound simple, but it isn't. Families at the grass-roots level are not ignorant that there are children in foster care who should be adopted. They try and try and try. And then they give up - either not adopting at all or, if they are financially able to do so, going abroad to fulfill their adoption desires.

Lya Sorano


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