ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Human Canvas-in the darkness of childhood abuse and neglect-Volume 14-"That's My Boy"

Updated on June 18, 2013

A Social Worker's Journal

Usually when you hear a parent say those words, “That’s my boy”, it’s in some boastful way, like watching their child help make the winning touchdown for the school team, or getting an “A” on a class project at the school Science fair. It usually means that a parent is bursting at the seams in hopes that the world around him sees what a wonderful, exemplary person he knows his child is. It usually means that the parent can’t contain themselves with the joy and pride they feel from being that child’s parent. At least that’s what I think when I hear a parent say those words. Then the day came, when I heard a father say those words about his young son, followed by the piercing words that followed…”and I can discipline him any way I see fit”.

Alex’s Story

As I drove into the campground, I could feel the heat beat down on me as I got out of my air-conditioned car and walked toward the shaded picnic area, where my agency’s foster parents sat with their new placement. He was eleven years old, and absolutely charming. He stood to meet me and extended his hand to shake mine. The smile in his eyes, matched the one on his lips. He had a bright and sunny disposition, and for a minute I had to remind myself what I knew about Alex that put him where he was now. He had been taken from his birth father’s home, until the allegations could be further investigated, as to the abuse that had been reported. Someone had called the local department of social services, to report that Alex’s father had been punishing his son in an inhumane way, and that the child’s safety and well being were at risk. That was it. I had little else to go on at that point.

The foster parents spent every summer in their camper at the lake, so Alex was brought there to settle in. He’d been there for just the last day and night, but appeared to be getting along well enough. He asked me how long he would be away from his father, and I told him I didn’t know, but that things would be figured out soon enough, and that I would let him know as soon as I knew something. I reassured him that he could call me anytime for anything, and I handed him my business card. He took it from my hand and then looked up at me and said, “I’m not in any hurry to go back home. I don’t like my dad very much, and he gets really mean when he drinks.” I responded that he would be safe with the foster parents, and that I just wanted him to enjoy being at the campsite for now, and to enjoy some fun with the other kids in the park. He nodded and ran off, almost before I finished my sentence. We three adults could watch him play while we discussed the specifics of why Alex came into care. When I had called them the night before with the emergency placement, I was able to tell them very little, other than I had been told that Alex had been forced into a sex act by his father as punishment for coming in late from playing outside. It was summer, and since the days were longer, Alex had lost track of time, like most children do from time to time, but his father was unaccepting of the excuses, and more about punishing his son for not obeying his rules.

It was only a couple of days after Alex’s placement that more information was shared by the local county department of social services about the ongoing abuse that Alex had allegedly sustained under his father’s rule in the family home.

Apparently, for the past couple of years, Alex’s father would force him to perform fellatio on him. If Alex came home with a bad grade, or report card, he would have to perform the act. If he got in trouble on the bus, or at school, he would have to perform the act. It had gotten to the point that Alex’s father punished him for even simple things, like not picking up his room, or doing the dishes. This young child was being treated less than an animal, and he told no one about it.

I had so many questions, the first one being, where was Alex’s birth mother? What I was told was that when Alex was two years old, his mother couldn’t take the physical abuse from her husband anymore, so she left. Just left. Didn’t take her son with her, just left. Left her little boy to remain in a situation that she herself couldn’t cope with or accept anymore as an adult, so she left. I totally understood why she left, but what I couldn’t understand was why she left this vulnerable, innocent, beautiful baby boy with the same monster she was escaping. I never understood that. Never will.

Weeks passed, and the opportunity came for Alex to meet with me in my office. We chatted about how things were going in the foster home, fifth grade in his new school, and new friendships he had made since he’d been in care. (Alex had to repeat the fifth grade because his grades had fallen, and he couldn’t recover his academic status to move forward).

Throughout most of our discussion, things remained at on even keel. And then I had to let him know that the court had ordered “supervised visits” between him and his father, in my office. Alex stiffened and a tear fell out of the corner of his eye, rolled off his chin, and onto his lap. He spoke one, simple word. ”Why?” I tried to explain as best as I could about the process, but I also told him that if at any time he felt threatened or unsafe, that I would end the visit and report back to the judge. He agreed. After that first attempt at a visit, Alex told me he never wanted to do another one, and his father agreed. Actually, his father never tried to see him again, or even call him. His father never contested the charges, and after months and months of family court appearances, his father was found guilty of several charges of child endangerment and abandonment, and was sentenced to many years in prison.

In time, Alex’s father’s parental rights had been terminated but, the county needed to find his birth mother, to terminate her parental rights as well, so that Alex could be freed and then adopted by his foster family. It shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, she had left him all those years ago, and never looked back. They could charge her with abandonment, as well.

After a very long search, Alex’s mother had been located. She had been living in the mid-West, and from what the authorities reported, she was very ill. Receiving no further details, plans had been made with the two active counties assigned to the case, and Alex would be meeting his birth mother within the week. His mother had agreed to speak with him, and his foster parents had agreed to travel with him to be at his side when he met with his mother after all those lost years.

As life can be unfair, I received a phone call from the local county I had been working with, and they had just been delivered some very sad and disappointing news. Alex’s mother had passed away just the day after she had agreed to meet with her long lost son. Just like she had done so many years ago…she had left. Just left. No note of regret. No well wishes. No asking for forgiveness. And, what was worse, no explanation for why she had left him all those years ago. Alex would never get his answers now.

I called the foster family, told them the new circumstances of the situation, and asked them to not say anything to Alex, but rather, to just bring him to the office.

As I sat looking at him, I still saw that light in his eyes. That smile. That bright, sunny disposition. I said a prayer to myself that the light inside him would pull him through the dark news I had yet to share.

As the words rolled off my tongue, I watched his shoulders droop, and his head drop down towards his chest. I felt his pain. I could hear it in his breathing. Alex never said a word to me that day after hearing the news of his mother’s passing. He never said a word, but I could hear his thoughts, loud and clear. She just left…she just left…she just left, again.

I heard it loud and clear.

Within the year, Alex was adopted by the foster family who had grown to love him as their own. He was happy, and that was all I had hoped for him. After the formal adoption in family court that day, friends and family were taking combination pictures. Alex with his mom. Alex with his dad. Alex with his siblings. Alex in a family group photo. All the photos that I knew would make it into the new family album, to look back on and treasure.

As I said my good-byes, I turned to leave, but felt a hand on my arm. It was Alex asking for a picture with just me. I felt honored at his request. But what came next, was more than I could have ever hoped for. Alex looked at me, hugged me, and said, “Thank you, Kim. You never left.”

Those words carved a spot in my heart for the boy who made me smile, with his.

Alex, for all the hurt you experienced, please forgive us, for failing you.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Diaz 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      ...unfortunately funds for fields like social services, will always be cut. There is never enough money or resources as it is, but they always find new ways to cut something, be it staff, programming or services.

      My belief is to continue to help one child at a time and see their success story ending through. When we help them, we in turn help so many that they touch or will touch in their present and future lives. Thanks for you support...and for continuting to be aware that these horrible acts of abuse exists. Please help whenever and whomever you can along the way...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Dear Kim, It is so rewarding yet at times very difficult raising children. They say that sometimes we hurt the ones we love but to me that's no excuse. Any kind of abuse is unexceptable- period. Children are limited with resources to help them in difficult situations such as in Alex's case. Thank God there are agencies and people like you and foster parents who can and do help. I also hope that in todays economic situation that there not be cuting but adding funds to help our youths. That is one reason I don't mine paying my fair share of taxes for real meaningful help.

      Thanks for everything that you have done and hope you will continue to do to help society. God bless you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)