At the age of four William* was found wandering naked in his neighborhood. His home was “deplorable and unsanitary,” his room was covered in feces and urine. He was discovered to have suffered sexual abuse, and … he was kept in a cage. Some could argue that meth made her do it, his mom that is.
Drug addict or not, William’s mother was charged with three felony child cruelty counts and is in prison today.
William will always have special needs. He was diagnosed with autism before he was four-years-old. He is 10 now, but functions at the level of a 3 to 15-month-old. He is non-verbal, suffers from encopresis (he has an inability to retain feces) and exhibits other behaviors that make many turn their heads away.
To say the least, this is a tragic story for an innocent child. The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) tried hard to identify and locate relatives who could help provide care and support for William. Relatives came forward for William’s two siblings, but had no interest in caring for William and his needs. An aunt stated that she did not want Williams’ siblings to visit with him because she did not want them to remember him. He was thrown away by his parents and his extended family.
William appeared on the list for the Cold Case Project ( a state of Georgia judicial and executive branch project designed to find and help work the hardest child welfare cases). But before his case was even reviewed, the assigned Fellow working on the case was delighted to learn that William was already moving toward adoption.
Williams’ DFCS case manager had been quite busy. She networked, put in many extra hours and aggressively recruited families for William. When William appeared on Georgia’s Wednesday’s child (A TV program that highlights children who need families) a family was watching and reached out to call.
After five failed therapeutic placements, an adoptive home was finally located where William made tremendous progress. He can put on his clothing and can now eat with a fork and spoon. His “appalling” behaviors have significantly decreased. He now has a vocabulary of 2-3 words and uses American Sign Language to communicate his needs for foods and drinks.
This is a remarkable example of what love and commitment can offer any child, even one with the most special of needs. Thanks to the hard work by DFCS, William will have a special family; A forever family to care of his every need.
*William is not his real name, but his story is real. This child was part of a statewide review called the Cold Case Project. The Cold Case Project is being conducted in full partnership and transparency with the Division of Family and Children Services. The project is made possible by the Casey Family Program funds.