In 2015 amidst the flurry of a chaotic life, likely shackled by addiction, a young couple with three children devised a plan for peace and quiet. It didn’t involve story time and soft music or snacks and a movie—but injecting heroin into the bodies of their children.
It was “feel good medicine” the eldest child, a boy who’s now 6 told investigators from Child Protective Services that his father, Leroy "Mac" McIver gave him. His sisters, now 2 and 4 years old, also received injections—indeed that’s how authorities were alerted to the abuse. A report was made—by someone whose name hasn’t been released, that mom Ashlee Hutt, now 24, injected the drug into all three of her children, calling it “sleeping juice.”
A dirty house littered with needles, rat droppings and heroin with both parents embracing abuse as a parenting style was the norm for these children.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Christian Clark a twenty-one year old mother of two from Texas was angry at her boyfriend, Andre Price. She was convinced he was being unfaithful—and that hurt. Anguish morphed to violent rage and in a successful effort to wound him—she destroyed herself in the process, documenting her 17-month-old son’s murder and two-year-old daughter’s abuse in a series of vicious texts to their father.
“Ya kids ain’t safe here I don’t want them here”
“Answer me or im going to jail for child endangerment”
And finally, at 10:01 PM, “I’m killing them”
By 10:14 PM, little Andre Price the 3rd was dead, his limp body shown lying face down on a mattress. Angel, his older sister, was terrified and hurt, but still alive. Their mother recorded this on her cell phone—sending the video to their father.
Andre Price at times ignored the threatening texts and other times said he would return home—but by all accounts it was too late.
But is it?
While some of us are thinking about stepping into foster care—wondering which of our children is going to have to share a room or how we’ll squeeze another child into a schedule that’s already bursting at the seams. Or acknowledging the reality that taking care of a child from a broken place is going to bring difficulty—and returning the child—after we’ve grown to love him may be even harder…
While those of us who get to make these kind of choices enjoy the luxury of time—some child, somewhere needs you to prepare for their arrival.
Our family was licensed in our state for nearly three months before we received our first placement. While this was unusual, it wasn’t due to a shortage of kids needing care (sadly), but due to the reality that it took three months to find a child that was best suited to the parameters of our home.
Age, gender, medical fragility, degree of trauma and geographical considerations are some of the criteria you’ll choose, should you become a foster parent. You are the perfect home for specific children—not all children. An empty-nester might like to mentor teenagers; a mom who’s a nurse might consider a medically fragile child or a family with all girls might like to experience a son…and so on.
The siblings who used to receive heroin injections at bedtime are now in foster care and according to law enforcement, are doing well. The trajectory of their lives has changed and while only God knows the final outcome, the family or families who are serving these kids get to experience the joy of a home filled with purpose while the children--maybe for the first time, get to live in an environment of stability, security and compassion.
I don’t know little Angel’s current situation but it’s certainly bleak. She’s likely suffered abuse at the hands of her mother for most of her life (I’m assuming this wasn’t the first time Christian Clark became violent) and will probably grow up with her mother behind bars—for the murder of her baby brother.
That’s almost too much to bear and yet that reality is stamped on the body, mind and soul of a child too young to even write her name. Maybe she’ll be able to live with her dad and he’ll work to meet her needs and build a life for them together—but if he’s unwilling or unable this child deserves someone who is. This is the privilege of foster parenting.
The goal of this post isn't guilt or legalism—but awareness because for some child, somewhere, time is running out.
Since our family began this journey, I’ve had the pleasure of learning from all sorts of folks who navigate this world. Other foster parents, case managers, social workers and helpful organizations like the Foster Parents Association of Washington, www.fpaws.org, and Fostering Together, www.fosteringtogether.org have proved incredibly helpful.
I’ve also been able to share a bit of what we’ve learned so far during various public and private conversations about fostering. I’m gripped by how many women I know, express a long-held desire to adopt or serve this community but don’t where to begin…or if they should.
My encouragement is to go for it! Take the training class. Start out with respite care (overnight care of other foster children) or agree to just one placement. Open your heart and your home to all the joy and blessing this kind of lifestyle brings.
I’ll close with this story:
When our nine-year-old daughter returned to school from summer vacation and was asked by her teacher to journal about the highlights of her holiday, she didn’t write about all the fun she had with her friends or boast of vacations and purchases, but told how she got a new foster sister and how fun it was to get to know her. That initiated a conversation with her teacher about the beauty of foster care and later that day when my daughter and I were talking, she told me that when she grew up she wanted to dye her hair pink (like mine, I know…) have “born babies” and become a foster mom too.
My heart grieves for mothers’ like Ashlee Hutt and Christian Clark who have denied themselves this kind of legacy and the ability to receive this kind of love but I’m hopeful for their children.
I believe it is God alone who builds families and while he often employs biology, he certainly doesn't have to.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…” Ephesians 3:14-16
Somewhere, some child needs you.
My prayer is that you’ll realize you need them too.
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "