When a fireman runs into a burning building to rescue others; when a soldier leaps on a live grenade thrown in attack; we know that something special has taken place. Today, I am going to give that extra-special something a name. Let us call it "True Service ."
A few years ago I was assigned a "dependency case, a termination action," for trial. The parents had their child taken from them because they were drug addicts and suffered from other psychological infirmities. The trial was heart-wrenching. Both parents knew they were unfit but refused to give up their parental rights. They had no faith that the "system" could do more for their son than they could. The father was black, the mother was white. Their mixed race son, who was eight years old, was suffering from leukemia. Their fear was just this: once this child is taken from us who will adopt him?
Yet I had to do my job. I terminated their parental rights. However, I retained jurisdiction of the case to try and ensure his adoption. But the odds were not good. Cyle was classified as "violent" in his group home. He was an unlikely candidate for adoption. And about six months after my termination decision his leukemia came out of remission, requiring hospitalization and a bone marrow transplant. The doctors refused to deal with the Department or me (the judge), as surrogate parents. They insisted on a legal parent. I was desperate. I even talked to my wife about adopting him.
Enter Sven and Yvonne, foster parents. Cyle had to have 24/7 care in the hospital (often in the psychiatric ward) and a parent present. So Sven quit his job and moved into the hospital. There was no requirement that he do this. The couple also agreed to adopt Cyle despite his violence and life threatening condition. So, approximately 28 days from the date I received the demand from the hospital Cyle was adopted. The transplant sent Cyle's cancer back into remission.
Last fall, almost two years later, Cyle died. His memorial service was a celebration. This little boy who had been officially classified as "violent" received testimonial after testimonial about his transformation. His teacher, principal and classmates all spoke. Cyle was considered a model student who inspired his entire school.