Giving Children a Voice: Katy Faust and Them Before Us

Giving Children a Voice: Katy Faust and Them Before Us
Them Before Us stands up for the rights of children to be raised and loved by their biological parents. (Jessica Rockowitz/Unsplash)
Jeff Minick

“I want my mom and dad to love me, and I want them to love each other.”—Jocie, aged 7.

That sentence introduces visitors to the website of the organization, Them Before Us (TBU).

“Jocie’s statement illustrates the universal human longing to be known and loved by the two people responsible for one’s existence," the website reads. "Those longings should inform how we talk about marriage and family because children have the most at stake in these conversations.”

Yet Jocie’s voice, and the voices of millions like her, are rarely heard.

As Them Before Us pointed out, “You will seldom hear Jocie’s perspective in discussions on marriage or family. Adults dominate these conversations because they hold all of the power.”

For decades now, children have been the near-invisible victims of the sexual revolution. No-fault divorce, fatherless households, considerations about adoption, reproductive technologies, cohabitation, and more have all played to adult desires but have left children with their wants and needs out of the conversation. The consequence? These winds of cultural change have damaged untold numbers of innocent kids.

The fatherless epidemic in America provides just one example of what happens to children when natural family ties are broken. This statistical breakdown was compiled by The Fatherless Generation Foundation and is cited by Them Before Us:
  • 90 percent of homeless and runaway youths are fatherless and at risk of being victimized by sex trafficking.
  • 70 to 85 percent of prison inmates grew up without a father.
  • 63 percent of teenagers who commit suicide have absent fathers.
  • 71 percent of pregnant teenagers come from fatherless homes.
  • 71 percent of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
By compiling and making known such data; by collecting and sharing the stories of children, many of them now grown to adulthood, who suffered the consequences of decisions outside of their control; and by taking their advocacy for children’s rights to the government and the legal system, Them Before Us seeks to give these children a voice among adults, awaken us to their struggles and cries for help, and make all of us more aware of their rights and needs.
Katy Faust during a speaking engagement in South Korea. (Courtesy of Katy Faust)
Katy Faust during a speaking engagement in South Korea. (Courtesy of Katy Faust)

Life Provided the Tools

“I can look at my life right now and see how my work at the adoption agency and in youth ministry, my mom’s situation, and my parents’ divorce all worked together for the good,” said Katy Faust, founder and director of Them Before Us.

Faust grew up in Portland, Oregon, where she attended public school. She was 10 when her parents divorced. Her father later remarried, while her mother has lived in a long-term relationship with a woman. In interviews and online videos, Faust explains that despite the pain of that divorce, she was fortunate in that both her mother and father remained active and influential in her life.

After graduating from college, where she studied Chinese, Faust worked for four years at a large Chinese adoption agency.

“Our mantra was ‘We aren’t here to find a child for every adult. We are here to find a family for every child,’” she said of the agency.

For the past 20 years, Faust has also served in youth ministry.

“I still work in youth ministry at our church. I love it, and it’s so important to offer youth formation. Culturally, it’s a war, and it just kills me that churches aren’t taking the education of teens more seriously,” she said.

Combine all of these experiences with a strong woman determined to speak up for children’s rights in such controversial and adult-dominated arenas as divorce, gay marriage, live-in boyfriends, and surrogate moms, and Them Before Us (TBU) is the result.

The Mission

On TBU’s website is its vision statement: “Them Before Us strives to put children before adults in every conversation about marriage and family. We seek to prioritize the rights of children in the culture and the courtroom, the personal and the public.”

Alongside it is this mission statement: “Them Before Us is a global movement defending children’s right to their mother and father.”

In the introduction to her 2022 book, “Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement,” which she co-authored with her friend and TBU General Editor Stacy Manning, Faust lists the topics addressed within, which are identical to the issues TBU deals with every day. These focal points include the importance of families made up of mothers, fathers, and children; the rights of all children to be loved and raised by their biological parents; and what happens when the “married-mother-father household” is abandoned and “divorce, same-sex parents, sperm/egg donation and surrogacy, and adoption impact children.”
On the website and in the book are studies about the effects of these circumstances on children—data which is important—but it’s the painful stories shared by adults about their childhood that move the heart.

Voices in the First Person

From the book come these thoughts of a young woman conceived via an anonymous donor: “To my mother the whole point of my existence is to be her daughter, I feel like she doesn’t really see me as a person, but more of a project she feels is completely under her control. Honestly, why would she not? She literally picked me out from a catalogue. She made sure that I would never have the option to meet my biological father. ... I hate myself for how much I regret being conceived this way.”
On the website, under “Stories,” we read Hannah T.’s lengthy account of her parents’ divorce, her mother’s turn to lesbianism, and years of marital court battles. Although Hannah escaped her bewildering and often harsh childhood to become financially secure with a family and a loving husband, her four siblings didn't fare so well. Two of her brothers are alcoholics, the third gambled away his savings and possibly participated in human trafficking, and her only sister died at age 30 from a fentanyl overdose.

“My parents were always super involved in their personal romantic relationships, but not so much [in] us,” Hannah T. wrote.

These are the voices of those silenced or ignored by our media and our culture, indictments of what takes place when parents and society leave children out of the equation of family and parenthood.

The Touchstone of Reality

While she strongly believes that a mother-and-father marriage is the ideal vehicle for raising children, Faust is also a pragmatist. Individual children matter more than an ideology. The staff and volunteers at TBU have offered counsel and help in any number of personal and legal situations, working with real people facing all sorts of dilemmas.

When I spoke with Faust by phone, she was driving with her 15-year-old in the car. During our conversation, she teased her son a couple of times. Later, when they stopped and switched places, she was giving him instructions while we talked—“Pull around this truck,” “Only stay in the fast lane if you’re going over 70”—which brought me some smiles. Here, I thought, is a down-to-earth mom, balancing her duties like so many others I know, with a heart for kids.

Katy Faust in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Katy Faust)
Katy Faust in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Katy Faust)

And if we pause to consider the matter, by fighting for the rights of children, Faust, her staff, and the volunteers of Them Before Us are also fighting for traditional marriage and ultimately for the cornerstone of our civilization: the family.

For any readers wishing to become involved with Them Before Us, receive its newsletter, donate to its ongoing efforts, or share their own stories, the contact information for the group may be found on its website.

Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust On Their Wings,” and two works of nonfiction, “Learning As I Go” and “Movies Make The Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va.
Related Topics