Place to call ‘home’ important

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 8, 2013

I don’t get to visit my family in North Carolina as much as I’d like, but when I do get the opportunity, I call it “going home.”

I haven’t lived in my childhood home since I left for college, but it will always be home. No matter where my career takes me, the contact listed as “home” in my cell phone will always ring to the little house on Burrage Road in Concord, N.C.

I was able to travel home this weekend to visit with my grandmother and father. There is something very comforting about walking through the door after months of being away. The smells are the same. The sounds are the same. Everything is in its right place.

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As I get older, I find myself being drawn to look at one of the many photo albums that chronicle my childhood, growing up in that house.

Christmases, birthdays, candid pictures. By all accounts, I seemed to have led a normal and happy childhood.

And although I probably didn’t know it at the time, I was a lucky kid.

Unfortunately, there are some children who won’t have those photo albums of happy memories to look back on. In some cases, the memories are better left forgotten.

My grandmother reminded me of a recent incident of child abuse and neglect in a county near where I grew up.

The story made national and international headlines less than a month ago when an 11-year-old Union County, N.C., boy was found shackled to a porch in 26-degree weather with a dead chicken tied around his neck.

The boy was living in a foster home and, according to reports, he had allegedly been handcuffed in the home on a routine basis.

Charged in the case were the boy’s foster parents, who shockingly, were two adults who had careers in ensuring the safety of children and others.

The foster father was an emergency room nurse, while the foster mother was a social services worker who, according to an article in the Charlotte Observer, was one of the county’s top employees combating child abuse.

Not only was this child dealing with the fact that he did not have a permanent place to call home, for whatever reason, but his temporary home was a scary and unloving place.

Thankfully the boy, as well as four adopted children who were living in the house, was removed from the home.

I was relieved to hear when my grandmother told me a woman from our church is taking care of those children for the time being and is seeking to adopt them.

But I can’t help but think of the immense sorrow that little boy must have felt while he lived in that house. And how could he get over something like that, to be left in the freezing cold with a dead animal tied to him, chained like a prisoner.

It sounds like something you would hear about happening in some Third World prison where basic human rights don’t exist.

Although the boy potentially has a loving family ready to take him in as their own, will he ever be able to forget the cruel actions of two people charged with caring for him? Or is the trust for authority gone?

I have no idea how I would have handled a situation like that. I’d like to think I could move on and embrace the love given to me by a new family.

But the reality is, I just can’t imagine it. I can’t put myself in that little boy’s place.

I feel grateful for that.

I hope the boy will be able to have a happy childhood wherever he ends up. I hope there is still time for him to make happy memories of Christmases and birthdays.

I hope he will one day have a place he can always, and will want, to call home.


Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at