I just finished a book called “Hope’s Boy.” It is a memoir of a child named Andrew Bridge. It is a difficult book to read at times, because it is hard to believe that any child should ever live in circumstances so desperate.
His mother came and went in his life, and she always promised she would be back for him.
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He was bounced from foster parent to foster parent to placements. Some, by his report lacked love, caring, tenderness or basic dignity.
My pillow has soaked up many tears as I worked my way through the book. I cannot comprehend treating any child ever with benign (and sometimes deliberate) neglect.
He kept believing his mom would come back. Perhaps this shook me more than anything else. A mother/child bond is so powerful… neglect, lies, and promises of a better future are ignored, as the child continues to wait for the parent to return.
Teachers along the way must have spotted the problems, but he notes only one teacher who seemed to care.
Fortunately, Andy was intelligent, and this gift in his life opened amazing doors for him.
In his heart-wrenching words toward the end of the book he thanks a myriad of people who were there along his path, “who knowingly or unknowingly encouraged me to start, to keep going, and to finish.”
By the end of the book, my soul was screaming….”Why did people not notice his pain? If they did….why were they quiet? There were teachers, caseworkers, neighbors, strangers even.”
His final acknowledgements of agencies and individuals who did reach out, and also helped him bring to light this travesty, includes these last words of thanks. – “and (to) the thousands of foster children in this country, who wake each morning without their parents and each day are brave enough to do their best on their own.”
Per the book acknowledgements, Mr. Bridge earned a scholarship to Wesleyan, went on to Harvard Law School, and became a Fulbright Scholar. He has been involved in the General Counsel of The Alliance for Children Rights, and continues to advocate for children in foster care.
Around this country CASA’s (Court Appointed special Advocates) and GAL’s (Guardian Ad Litems) volunteer to be part of a child’s life as they go through the pain of separation from family, uncertainty if their family will survive, and the potential of being placed in a new home.
CASA and GAL volunteers become the child’s sounding board. A safe haven to speak. A voice in court. Mr. Bridge has inspired an army of volunteers around this country to step into the life of a child.
During my first CASA case, a four year old in the family looked up at me with innocent eyes and said…”you’re here for me, aren’t you?” “Yep, I am”. I kept it together until I got in the car. The tears began to fall, and I thanked God that she knew I cared.
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