I wanted a daughter, but ended up with a son, and now he's 7. Is it too late to put him into foster care?
There was Charlie, sitting in the last seat in the back of my high school English class, middle row. Again? I think he was trying to break me.You see, I had a rule that I followed at the beginning of each semester. During the first week of class, I invited the students to sit anywhere they wanted. Each day, for five days, I noted the seating choices. I asked that anyone who needed to sit up front for any reason to let me know privately, such as vision problems, bullying problems, etc.Then, with all things considered, on the sixth day (with a few exceptions), I would “flip” the classroom. Essentially, all students in the back three rows were assigned a seat in the front three rows, and vice versa. They didn’t know this was coming.Charlie was angry as he slammed himself into a prime seat on the front row. Never once did he sit in his assigned, front row seat of his own accord. Each day, I would have to demand that he get up from the back row and move to his seat in the front row. After speaking with him privately, he assured me that his reason was simply preference. He never gave up, and neither did I. I never let on how much I admired his tenacity.Charlie was one of the biggest guys in the ninth grade, but he wasn’t interested in sports. In fact, I couldn’t find anything that Charlie was interested in. The guidance counselors had no record of any problems or issues. He had flown under the radar for a long time, and he made it clear that he was uncomfortable with my attention and probing.I’d never before seen a face that was perpetually scrunched from frowning. That was Charlie’s face. I’m sad to say that the only time I ever saw it un-scrunched was when his face popped out its wrinkles to reveal utter surprise after he walked in after school one day and found me sitting in a chair at his family’s dining room table as I spoke with his grandmother. A few seconds later, Charlie’s face settled back into its “natural” frown, and he grunted as he quickly escaped from the house.In a quiet voice, Charlie’s grandmother told me that she and his grandfather were Charlie’s guardians because her daughter had gotten purposely pregnant at 19 years of age by a young man with drug problems. Her daughter’s singular goal was to give birth to a little girl, whom she imagined would be her best friend and companion.When Charlie arrived, she wouldn’t look at him or hold him. It was without a single regret that she gave him away to her parents to raise. The daughter would come and go without acknowledging Charlie. But Charlie was fine. His grandparents told him he was their son, so he believed that his mother was his sister.Sadly, while trying to conceive once again with the drug addict, the daughter, herself, became addicted to drugs. When Charlie was nine years old, she came home drugged up in the middle of the night, dragged Charlie out of bed, and revealed to him the truth, being careful to include how much she hated him. It was the next day, when Charlie’s grandparents cried while confirming her account, that Charlie’s face fell into a scowl that refused to go away.As I listened, my heart broke into a zillion pieces for Charlie. The grandmother said that he had recently shoved his grandfather by his throat up against the wall because his grandfather was trying to keep Charlie and his now drug-dealing father apart. Charlie’s exact words were, “You can’t tell me what to do? You’re not my father? You’re just a bad liar.”Soon after, I chose a short reading for Charlie’s class with him in mind. It had themes of the ethics of lying to protect someone and why God lets bad things happen. For the first time ever, Charlie appeared engaged. His frown lightened a bit. But when it was over, I could see that he rejected the softness of the discussions by slamming his book shut, sinking deeper into his seat, and, I swear, his frown seemed even more pronounced.In light of his reaction, I determined to speak to him one-on-one, just Charlie and me. But the next day, he wasn’t in school. If Charlie was anything, he was consistent, so I was worried. When I stopped by after school, his grandmother sobbed to me that Charlie had run away with his drug dealer of a father. To this day, they’ve never heard from him. This year (2021), Charlie will be 19 years old, the same age as his mother when she got pregnant with him while dreaming of a girl whom, I promise you, she also would have destroyed.Dear Asker-of-This-Question:Who are you? Where do you come from? If you were in my class, I’d find a story to fit you - one detailing a person’s demise due to his/her own selfishness and immaturity.Please don’t expect pity from me. But do expect this: I volunteer to take your precious son. I promise to love him, treat him with compassion, and be patient with him. I promise to be a mother to him.Do not destroy this child’s soul. Do not discard. Do not violate. Do not murder who he is…a little boy full of love and innocence.If you do, I cannot begin to tell you what horrific things I hope and pray follow you throughout eternity. You were bold enough to ask an incredibly barbaric question. Now, be bold enough to do the right thing. My God.