expected phone call


Last week I received a phone call that I had been expecting ever since I kicked Derek out of the house. Because Derek refuses to cooperate with their interview, the Dutch journalists no longer feel they have a story here their viewers will find, well, uplifting.

I don’t blame them for their decision. It’s the same call I would have made. TV is a superficial medium that does not lend itself to complicated stories.

The attack was wholly unexpected and unprovoked. Since 2005, I have spent over $60,000 on the kid and his brother, and for all the good it has done, I feel like I may as well have flushed all that money and time down the toilet. This is the real story here, but people don’t want to hear it.

Maybe Derek will eventually use this experience to straighten out his life, but it is too early now. He still wants to blame other people for the hardships of his life. He still refuses to accept personal responsibility for his many decisions.

It took my friend Lone Heron a quarter-century to get where she is today, but unlike Derek and Alex, she faced her situation head-on. Derek and Alex are still running.



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6 Responses to “expected phone call”

  1. 1 Stephanie Rodriguez
    July 6, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Dan, don’t lose faith or hope or whatever it is in you that pushes you towards helping these kids. Someone has to, right? When the people that were supposed to love and protect them failed them miserably. As a foster parent I have felt the same hopelessness. Wondering why drowning kids don’t jump at the lifeline I’m throwing to them; a safe home, encouragement, support…but most, if not all look at this new life with skepticism and suspicion. Right now I feel like throwing in the towel. What I do realize is that we are supposed to give without expectations. We are supposed to give and give and give without wanting anything in return. You are an amazing person with a heart for damaged, thrown away children. THAT may be your legacy.

  2. 2 matt
    July 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    “but people don’t want to hear it.” What is it you think people don’t want to hear, Dan? That Derek did indeed attack you? Not hard to believe since his mental heath was called into question by the folks in Virginia and before arriving at Estrella Vista he had been in in-patient mental health support. Not hard to believe since he bludgeoned his father to death with a bat. Not hard to believe since he spent what, eight years in prison? Not hard to believe when you look at his tumultuous early life either.

    Or is it that Derek seems to have failed to make the transition from teen murderer to successful adult that you thought/hoped he would, in spite of all your hard work, open home, and financial support? I think we all hope for the very best success for all of these kids, Dan, but that doesn’t mean we are blind to their personal issues and don’t understand the likelihood of failure. Stephanie was right about some of the kids in foster care and some who’ve been adopted too, but she hasn’t given up on doing the best she can with each and every one of them. You and she do what you do because you are called to do so, and in doing so, you inspire others, and maybe that is reward enough.

  3. 3 Frank Manning
    July 7, 2016 at 3:39 am

    One of the worst things for me is having a kid come back on a new charge. Basically that means everything we did to help him was for naught. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often. Some people have perhaps been broken beyond repair. It doesn’t mean we are a failure, or that we wasted our time and energy (or, in your case, money), or that other kids don’t deserve our help. Both Derek and Alex are going to learn the hard way that you cannot run away from your past.

    Stephanie, there was a boy I worked with some years back. He was in ten foster homes in two years, between the ages of 11 and 13. As soon as he started feeling comfortable in a home he would run away, only to be picked up by the police, sent back to juvie, and then sent to a new foster home. Holidays were the worst for him, and he would take off before every birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. He was afraid of becoming too attached or too happy, because of how painful it had been for him to lose his own family and he didn’t want to go through that pain and loss again.

  4. 4 Marie
    July 7, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I may have missed some posts regarding the recent problems the boys are having and in their mistreatment of you. What I do realize though is that both boys are still very young and still have growth in the future. The trauma of their life experiences are difficult to fathom.

    In an effort to connect the dots, though this could be viewed as a “stretch” to some, I recall my own father and a dear uncle telling many stories but none of the most traumatic times in their lives. One was the Battle of Buldge. Another person that comes to mind was a 90 year old gentleman who was still experiencing PTSD from recalling his experience in Germany where a woman was carrying her dead child, crying, screaming, at the tanker he was in. Yet another was a friend that started experincing PTSD (again)from the Vietnam, after learning he is eligible for more financial help from the VA. He advised me that the call he received telling him he was eligible for more financial help was great, but ever since the call, his PTSD kicked in, again. He was very sick, even hospitalized for quite some time.

    What is my point? Well, from my experience taking to so many people that have experienced trauma, I have learned, everyone is different. So many people do better, not reliving the past. Some do not want to share “the pain” to help another person out. Some are more willing. I personally do not think people have to relive their failures, or the things that hurt so terribly,

    With that being said, ofcourse a person “escaping” with pills or alcohol, is in need of psychotherapy to help them heal. Once they reach a point of comfort, at that point, it is fine not to want to relive over and over again to the public, their pain. Some do it better in smaller quarters. I think the boys will come around. Hang in there. Your time and money was not wasted. Far from it!

  5. 5 tape
    July 8, 2016 at 5:15 am

    It is not just about helping the individual. It is also about giving representation in a highly flawed system and justice in a wider sense. It is difficult to put a price tag on that. It adds gravity to your cause.

  6. 6 Willow54
    July 14, 2016 at 5:15 am

    The one thing that stands out in all this is that it is incredibly difficult to place your trust in people when it seems like every interaction you had with those around you was a lottery in terms of how the outcome might play out. Of course, trust is a two way street, and this is something you clearly have recent experience of.

    The ex-offenders obviously have trust issues. Their earlier lives and prison time have only proved to re-inforce the notion that nobody can be trusted not to disadvantage or harm them. You have trust issues in so far as you cannot be sure the ex-offenders won’t try to rob you or murder you in your bed, or based on previous comments of the ilk, accuse you of sexual assault, all in spite of your stated good intention only to help them and give them a stable base from which to rebuild their damaged lives.

    Sadly I don’t have all the answers for how to square this circle of mistrust. All you can do is behave impeccably and carry out your mission as you have stated it to be. Your visitors on the other hand, have to face up to their pasts, their demons or whatever other barriers to successful lives they feel they have, and learn to put aside their assertions of being persecuted. Easy to say but clearly difficult to achieve. If I knew how to get them to do that, no doubt I’d be a billionaire and ex-offenders would be beating a path to my front door and getting in line for the “treatment”.

    I’m not and they are not, so until that happens, and it won’t be any time soon, or maybe ever, you’re all they’ve got!

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