Where were all the grief-stricken Alvarado Park neighborhood residents when a young mother was spending the night in the park because she had no place to go? What if she’d knocked on a door and said, “Can I spend the night here?” Would any of them offered her shelter? Maybe it’s because grief and outrage are easier than outreach.
Nearly four thousand dollars was raised for a funeral, so the toddler “could be buried in a tuxedo” as one person interviewed by the ABQ Journal stated. Think how that money could have helped Baby Angel and his mother: counseling, parenting classes an apartment.
The situation of “Baby Angel” is repeated over and over again throughout the city and state. The only difference is that Baby Angel’s situation ended with murder. As a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in state custody, I’ve seen first hand the emotional wreckage of child abuse and neglect, the outcome of parents ill-prepared to be parents, parents who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction and a myriad other emotional issues.
There are thousands of children living in emotionally or physically abusive or neglected circumstances in the State. If they are taken out of these homes, where do they go? In 2007 nearly 2500 were in foster care and good, loving foster parents are in short supply. It’s a tough job requiring a high degree of emotional courage to take in these damaged children. Wonder if any of the people crying at Baby Angel’s planned funeral at a multi-media mega-church would be interested in taking in one of these lost children?
Toddlers are cute and their abuse is heart-wrenching. But when they grow up to be angry, lost teenagers they’re not so cute any more, especially if they mug you for your iPod or break into your house. Visit the Juvenile Detention Center and see 12-year olds in handcuffs. Once upon a time they were toddlers in monster truck T-shirts playing with toys. They are Baby Angels growing up to be tomorrow’s addicts, criminals, and yes, abusive parents.
Every Sunday that Albuquerque Journal runs a tiny little column about a child in state custody looking for a “forever family” after parental rights have been terminated. Usually there’s a two-page spread of shelter animals awaiting adoption. “Special needs” dogs needing homes occasionally make the front page. Certainly the humane treatment of animals is important, but what about children?
Instead of taking candles and teddy bears to a memorial, make a contribution of time and effort or money to the damaged children of the community—yes, even the surly, un-cute teenagers—who are still alive. There are plenty of organizations, these are just a few: Cuidando Los Niños provides services to homeless children and their families 843-9408. (Look in the faces of the children on their website http://www.clnkids.org/
Big Brothers Big Sisters 837-9223 .
New Day Youth Shelter 260-9912
Bernallilo County CASA 841-7388
Sandoval County CASA 720-7030
And, if you’ve really got a lot of courage and want to help, become a foster parent. 1-800-432-2075
Do what you can for the living children and their families who need help. They are all Baby Angels in waiting.
Update: Just for perspective in 2007 there were nearly 9500 reported case of abuse or neglect in Bernalillo county. Of those reports nearly 4500 were found to have merit warranting a CYFD investigation. People, that is JUST Bernalillo county. It's a lot of children needing help.