What defines a family? How much safety is necessary? What is the exact ratio of bad things to good things a child must experience before it’s justifiable to take him from his mother? And how do you weigh the negative impact of a crack addicted father on the street against lying in a crib with unanswered cries and a bottle propped on a pillow angled towards the face? Why are there never any easy answers?
This child is so beautiful.
When his Momma was oh so pregnant, I felt him kick.
That kick messed me up for days. Somehow, Momma had been taking care of herself, regular visits to the Doctor. He was safe, happy and warm inside of her. And in a few days or weeks everything was going to drastically change. He was born in a hospital, then returned with Mom and Dad to the street.
Being dirty is part and parcel of life on the street, but these two keep this child squeaky clean. They work as a team to meet his needs. Unlike so many of the kids I know, he does not have an absent father.
These two absolutely burst with pride over their son.
But they live on the street.
This baby has no roof over his head.
No matter how many times I say it, I cannot accept it and the words fail.
Fact: A baby should not live on the street. If things continue, this child will be taken away from his family at some point. Will he go to Nueva Esperanza where he will only be changed when his diaper starts to seep? Where he will only be held when he’s being fed, but even that’s not guaranteed? Where his cries will be a source of frustration instead of cause for sympathy and comfort? Where he will contract numerous skin infections and have a constant cough?
We have learned that no one can survive without shelter, food and water. Can we count the canopied sidewalk outside a shuttered store as shelter?
And then here’s the big question I’m struggling with – where is the line between helping and meddling? There’s a baby on the street. I should do something. But, man, is this baby loved. And having the love of both parents makes this child rich. Sadly, this is so rare. But how long can this wealth of love overcome the reality of destitution?
I pray that someone will be there if they reach a point where they can no longer care for him. This also makes me realize, once again, how important relationships are. The black and white answer is that this child should be taken from his parents because they cannot provide a house (and there’s also that issue of drug use). The gray reality is that there are people who see them on a weekly basis. People that they trust. Jilli, Lauren, the soccer player whose name they can’t remember… Isn’t it better that together they talk about what is best for this precious child? Won’t it be better when the time comes that they can no longer care for him, that they willingly give their child to someone who will make sure he’s in a place where he is still loved and where mom and dad can remain involved?
And yet saying that my vote is for him to stay on the street for now seems quite irresponsible. Please pray for this child’s safety and future. Pray that somehow his parents can piece together a life in which they can stay together instead of this child growing up in a handful of different children’s homes. And pray that we will be able to find and develop the wisdom and resources necessary to assist in any way that we can.