January 6- February 8, 1999

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was 15 and had lovely, long dark hair. Her mother was 32 and serving time in prison for grand theft auto. Her grandmother was 49 and, while getting back on her feet after her seventh visit to detox, lived with her own 73-year old mother in a small apartment in a low-rent neighborhood in a large urban center. Our 15 year old visited her grannies sometimes, but had moved out on her own, preferring to live with her pimp rather than a crotchety old bible thumper.

Just before her 16th birthday, our little girl became a mother herself. She lied about her name, age, and marital status, easy things to do in the overcrowded emergency room in which she lay. She took the baby home with her and cared for it as best she could. Everyone cooed at the baby and told her how handsome he was. He was a good baby and disrupted her life very little. When she was out on the streets, a friend cared for the baby. There were always friends around...

When she was about to turn 17, she had an employment dispute with her pimp. He beat her up, blacking her right eye, loosening 3 teeth, and “assisting” her down a flight of stairs, during which time 2 ribs were fractured. She woke up in a hosptial and wondered where her baby was, but the wondering wasn’t as powerful as the drugs they gave her for pain. Finally, one of her many friends stopped by to tell her that the baby was safe in the care of her granny, where it had been taken by a neighbor who was babysitting at the time the “employment dispute” broke out.

Granny was pleased to see that she was out of the hospital, and gave her a place to sleep as she healed up. The better the young woman felt, the less she appreciated the input from her grandmother. One day, she took her handsome little toddler and left the apartment, never to return. As she was leaving, she took the keys to her grandmother’s ancient sub-compact car. The car had been neither licensed nor insured in the past several months, so it was not reported stolen.

The young mother had tried numerous times before to work a “real job”, but prostitution was so much more profitable than minimum wage! She did, however, try one more time after leaving her grandmother’s. She worked in the kitchen of restaurant. She noticed that many of the other workers made frequent visits to the back alley and all seemed very content in their work. One day, she visited the back alley and learned the reason. Drugs were available. She remembered how nice it had felt in the hospital to just drift off and forget everything for a while, and she soon found that she was thoroughly addicted. In order to support herself, her son, and her habit, she began turning tricks again.

She soon lost the one room apartment they had been living in, and moved through a series of live-in arrangements and shelters before finding herself truly homeless and on the streets. Winter had set in without her noticing it. She and the boy slept in the car they had stolen, along with all their belongings. She parked in alley ways and turned tricks while her son slept or played nearby.

One night she parked her car as close to the wall of a building as she could get, and pulled trash cans up close to the doors of the car so no one could sneak up on her, and she curled up in the backseat with her beloved son, and covered him and herself with their only blanket. They huddled together and she told him stories until he drifted off to sleep, as gently as the snow falling around them. That’s how they were found, two days later as the city dug out from the blizzard and record cold temperatures.

HINT: Some adoptions that DON’T happen, should. This family had generations of dysfunction. Had it been broken somewhere, perhaps the little boy would have survived his life. <

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