Tragic headlines involving children seem to pop up in our newsfeeds nearly every single day. They’re often the stuff of nightmares, having to do with child abuse, abduction, or neglect; the kinds of stories that break our hearts and bring us to our knees in prayer. With each one, we wonder to ourselves: How is this possible? Who would hurt a child?
Sadly, many of these stories do not end happily. But sometimes, they do — and our hearts are once again reminded that there is kindness in this world, after all. One such story out of Oklahoma has proven just that, and it might just restore your faith in humanity.
The heartwarming story begins two years ago, when police officer Jody Thompson from Poteau, Oklahoma arrived at the scene of reported child abuse. There, he found an 8-year-old boy named John bound by the wrists, shivering uncontrollably, and covered head to toe in bruises and lacerations. Jody soon learned that John had been submerged in a trashcan full of cold water. He was severely malnourished and had a knot on his head.
“I knew immediately I had to have John with me,” Jody tells Babble. “I took John from the home and went to the Leflore County Children’s Advocacy Center where he was photographed and interviewed by professionals. Afterwards, I took John to the local Emergency Room where he was subsequently admitted into the Intensive Care Unit. I stayed with John that night and into the next morning. As I left John’s side for the first time, I could not keep my mind off of him. Wondering if he was safe, being cared for, being fed. I knew immediately, I was going to take him in some how. I had to know he was safe and being cared for.”
And Jody sure made good on his word. He admits to Babble that although he didn’t consult his wife Jeannie before committing to take John in, she “embraced John and never looked back.”
“Jeannie has been my rock through out the entire ordeal,” shares Jody. “She’s taken the kids to numerous doctors appointments, school and church functions, dentist and counselor appointments all without one single objection and all the while maintaining full time employment as a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate. It would not have been possible without Jeannie.”
But as if that wasn’t heartwarming enough, the Thompsons’ story has a few more twists and turns.
Just two days after welcoming John into their home, Jody and Jeannie found out that they were expecting their third biological child. Now they’d be a family of six. But that wasn’t all: Seven months later, the couple learned that John’s biological mother had given birth to a baby girl while in prison. The couple was soon asked if they’d like to foster her, as well, which they agreed to immediately.
“We literally picked her up in the hospital the next day when she was a day old and brought her straight home,” Jody told CBS News. “Never in my life did I dream of having a large family, but God had different plans and so here we are. And I’m loving it all.”
Jody commends John’s progress after the ordeal he suffered, describing him as “the toughest guy I’ve ever met.” John had to show that toughness more than ever when he testified at the trial that awarded permanent custody of his baby sister to the Thompsons. “John is amazing,” Jody told CBS. “He’s a straight-A student, on the honor roll, in the gifted and talented program, involved in the local drama club.”
Of course, the experience of fostering and/or adopting a child that has suffered a significant amount of abuse can be a challenging one. To those parents, or expectant parents, who are about to embark on a similar journey, Jody urges them to be patient.
“If trauma is involved, it takes special attention and please seek out a certified trauma based counselor,” he explains. “What we have found is these situations require more than just general counseling, John has issues he will for sure deal with for a while but his counseling with a trauma informed/based counselor, he’s excelling.”
When we learn of heartbreaking stories like John’s, we often wonder why no one saved these kids. But after hearing about people like Jody, it’s a reminder of the goodness that still exists in this world. In fact, Officer Thompson recently earned a certificate of commendation from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations, a honor very much deserved.
“It’s men like you that make me proud of our law enforcement brothers and sisters,” Poteau Police Chief Stephen Fruen told Jody, according to CBS News. “You are very deserving of this commendation. I am proud to serve with you.”
The Thompson’s lives have certainly taken an unexpected turn, but they are grateful for it, and feel that ultimately, this is what they were meant to do.
“It’s our intent with John’s permission, that [by] sharing the story, folks learn that just because you were dealt a bad hand or have went through something horrific, we don’t have to let that take over our lives and define who we are,” Jody shares. “With love and support, we can overcome anything.”