Last night I went to a celebration as I have every December 13th for the past two years. It is very special to me because I had a hand in making it happen. Although in reality I feel more like I was an actor in a play that I did not know I was acting in.
Last night we went out for a fine dinner and talked turned to this writing I am doing. My friends, you see, know some of the victims of my stories. They wanted to know if I was going to write about them so here it is guys, special just for you.
Now that you know the story ends happily let me start at the beginning because it was less than happy.
I live in a border county, and volunteer as a court appointed special advocate. On that fateful day I was in the neighboring state to meet with a social worker about a cross boarder family placement. I was early to child protective services so I was waiting in the lobby.
The social worker I was waiting for came into the room leading a small young boy of about 10. He looked like a small angel with his straw blonde hair and rosy cheeks. His eyes were incredibly blue and sad. He had a cast on his right arm. As I smiled at him it seemed as though I should know his name, he looked familiar but try as I could I couldn't place him.
After speaking to the little boys adult, the social worker left soon to return with another adult who was telling the social worker she didn't think the child would be a "good fit" in the world of foster care this means a foster family does not want this child. My heart broke, this little boy, he was being bounced.
The feeling that I should know him stuck with me so I told the social worker. I asked who he was. His name was Jake. His mother, a drug addict had flown into a rage and twisted his arm until it broke. She was in jail and probably would be for sometime to come. They were looking for relatives but hadn't been able to find any. His father was unknown. At this point he didn't talk, any move to touch him was met with cringing and curling up in the nearest corner.
We conducted our busniess and I left for home. I tried to put the experience out of my mind but something kept niggiling in the back of mind.
Weekends, spring through fall at my house are usually spent on one construction project or another. The neighbors know this and often stop by to say hi. One of these was a guy named Brain who had moved into the neighborhood with his small dog Max a few months before. Often on Saturday he and Max would swing by to hang out with my Chihuahua Spanky and I for awhile. This weekend was no exception.
As I turned around to greet them it hit my like a westbound frieght train I knew exactly what young Jake would look like when he grew up, he would look just like Brian. They shared the blonde hair, the unusual shape of their eyes and the bright blue color. Well dang. Now what.
I rolled it around in my mind. I knew nothing of Brains past or his family. I accept people as they are when I meet them. I really didn't relish the idea of prying into this guys life, I really, really didn't want to get involved. It is important to me in my life to do the right thing even if that isn't the easy thing, in fact I take great pride in it.
This didn't matter I spent the weekend trying to find some excuse, any excuse to be able to let this go with a clear conscious. It didn't work.
One monday I called the socail worker and told her I might have information but I needed permission to check it out. This is a gray area and I was getting involved in a case not my own. But that doing the right thing dictated to me that I had to be the one to talk to Brian. If it put my sideways of my job so be it.
I was waiting on his porch when he got home from work. He politely listened to my story of the little boy with the broken arm probably wondering why I was unloading this story onto him. This wasn't exactly one of our usual topics of conversation. I struggled with how to cross that line and get to the point. Finally I told him the mothers name, it seemed to have the same effect as hitting him in the stomach baseball bat. Apparently, he knew her. I think he knew what was coming, this big tough construction worker literally started to curl up in a ball. It didn't help him much when I told him Jake pretty much looked like a munchkin version of him.
Looking like a deer in headlights he told me the story. He had spent his twenties addicted to meth. One night he had crossed into Washington on a mission of buying Pseudoephedrine. He had been pulled over and the police had found enough meth to take him to jail. He had spent his 29th birthday locked up awaiting trial and going through withdrawls.
The judge had offered him a choice plead guilty and be sentenced to treatment and drug court or take his chances with jail. He said he would like to be able to say he saw the light right then but really he just didn't want to go back to jail.
He went directly to treatment, three months, then to a halfway house. He was required to attend drug court once a week, go to Narcotics anonmyus meetings, look for a job, and live in a half way house where they monitored his life. His probation forbid him from leaving the state. Jakes mother had been his girlfriend but she was a drug addict and he was clean and he wanted to stay that way.
Going back, in his mind, ment going back to drugs. So he stayed away even once he was free to do what he chose. In the years that passed he had occasionally wondered what had become of her. He never knew about Jake.
In the end he asked me what to do. I suggested Jake needed someone to fight for him maybe that someone should be him.
Tests followed and came back affimitive, parenting classes were attended, hurdles were jumped over the next months. Finally the day arrived that Brain and Jake got to meet. The shy quiet and patient man was just what the frightened little boy needed. Jake had started talking again in a quiet voice. At the end Jake asked if Brain would come back and see him again.
I helped him paint his spare room and set it up a place a little boy could feel at home. He fretted over details, worried about everthing. Twice a week he visited Jake. Overnight visits soon followed, then whole weekends and finally the big day, Jake came home.
Six months of monitoring followed and finally Brian was awarded permanent custody on December 13, 2008.
It hasn't always been easy there were adjustments. But I doubt either of them would have things any other way. Jake is 12 now and enjoys sports, riding his bike, and computers. He is almost always wearing a smile these days, and so is his Dad.
Life can be full of magic and real miracles but sometimes to make them happen we have to step out, be willing to take a chance, and be wiling to change everything in our comfortable lives.
Thanks guys for reminding me of that every time I see you.
You both rock in my book.