It is all too often that we hear stories of child abuse on social media that gain a lot of attention. Very soon, however, they are eventually forgotten by all.
For Officer Jody Thompson, forgetting it was not an option. When Officer Thompson was in the parking lot at Oklahoma’s Poteau Police Department, he overheard a dispatch call about a child that had been a victim of abuse. Even though he was not actively on duty at the time, he decided to respond to the call and offered his assistance to those that were there.
Thompson felt he had an obligation to help as he was familiar with such cases through his past occupation, he had previously worked as an investigator with the district attorney’s office before he joined the police force 16 years ago. During his time with the district attorney office he had handled dozens of abuse cases.
“I’ve investigated child abuse cases before,” Thompson admitted. “I thought I’d better go ahead and respond.”
But when Thompson arrived at the scene, he was none too familiar with what he was about to witness that day: a severely malnourished boy who had his wrists bound with a belt. Even more worrying was that the 8-year-old had multiple bruises on his body and was submerged in a trashcan filled with ice-cold water.
“He did not have a spot on his body that didn’t have a bruise or abrasion,” Thompson recalled about the 61-pound child, whose name was John. “It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Thompson immediately covered the young boy with a blanket and escorted him to a Children’s Advocacy Center so that the authorities dealing with the case could take photgraphic evidence of the his injuries. When they had finished, Thompson then headed straight to the emergency room with John.
“I sat with him,” Thompson said. “And when he was admitted into the intensive care unit, I sat all night until the next day.”
“When I’d seen him in that house shivering and his hands tied — just soaking wet and confused — I knew at that moment the only time I would be satisfied and sure that he was safe is if he was with me,” Thompson admitted. That feeling would eventually lead to John’s adoption by Officer Thompson.
The next day Thompson made contact with Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services and inquired about becoming a legally certified foster parent so he could take John into his care. However, he did admit that it came as a bit of a surprise to his own family.
“At the time, I had a 15-year-old son and an 8-year-old son. When I brought John home I didn’t tell them or my wife,” Thompson said. “Everyone knew … they trusted I was doing the right thing before they even knew what happened and heard the story.”
Only two days later, Thompson got the news that his wife was pregnant, and 7 months later, the DHS called Thompson to inform him that John’s biological mother had given birth to a baby girl while she was in jail. The Thompson family knew straight away what they needed to do.
“We literally picked her up in the hospital the next day when she was a day old and brought her straight home,” Thompson recalled. “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.”
Even though both of John’s biological parents were in prison, the family had to sue to get full parental rights over the newborn baby girl. It was Thompson’s dedication and willingness to foster both John and his sister that finally got him the recognition from the department.
“Jody’s actions, as well as his family’s, are second to none,” police chief Stephen Fruen said in a statement. “The example of love and compassion he has shown to this young man and his sister is an example everyone should follow.”
He hopes that his story will inspire others to make the right decisions about adoption and show them the difference they can make to the lives of victims of abuse.
“He excels,” Thompson said about John. “He’s the hero in this. You don’t have to let that define you. We’re not going to use that as an excuse or a crutch.”
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