Child neglect and abuse has long been an issue that has plagued society. It’s also worth nothing that there are many who believe not enough is done to protect children living in homes where they’re subjected to violence and maltreatment.
One of the major factors is that many children who face danger in their own home – including physical and sexual abuse – remain silent, fearing they’ll only be in more trouble if they speak out.
Officer Jody Thompson has been working his entire police career on such issues. He’s lived with his wife and three children in Poteau, Oklahoma, for many years now.
He’s witnessed a lot of horrible things in the course of his work, but there was one particular case that would change his family’s life forever.
It all started when Jody received an urgent call concerning the mistreatment of a child on his radio. He quickly responded to the scene and opened the front door of the house in question.
Once inside, he was met with a sight he’ll never forget …
Police officer and former soldier Jody Thompson knew things were bad when he received a call on that fateful day in April 2015.
Being an experienced officer, he knew that calls that sounded serious weren’t always so, but he had a feeling this one was. Having been with the force 16 years, he had intuition.
Jody heard the desperation in the voice of the caller, who told him they believed a set of parents were killing their child.
Officer Thompson, who works with the Department of Child Abuse and Violence in Close Relationships, was out patrolling at the time. He immediately turned his car around and drove directly to the scene.
Despite his extensive background, however, nothing could prepare him for the horrific sight that awaited.
When he broke into the house, he discovered a scared and confused 8-year-old boy, one bound at the wrists and ankles by rope.
The child was close to starving to death, and covered in too many bruises to count. His parents had even forced him into a garbage can filled with icy water.
It was obvious from the first glance that the 8-year-old had been subjected to severe torture. He was shaking so violently from shock and cold that he was unable to talk.
In that instant, Jody knew he couldn’t leave the boy’s side. He felt the overwhelming urge to protect him, no matter what.
Though the child was on death’s door, unable to do anything but shiver, there was something in him that reminded Jody of his own children back at home.
The boy, named John, was immediately rushed to hospital in critical condition. Jody remained by his side every second.
“I promised him ‘Nobody’s gonna hurt you anymore, you’re with me,’” Thompson said.
“And he kept saying, ‘They’re gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill me.’”
Jody and John quickly formed a special bond. Jody had become the boy’s guardian angel, and continued to watch over him night and day at the hospital.
When the boy was examined, doctors noted that his ribs and vertebrae were visible, while his shoulder blades stuck out and his face was sunken and sallow. He weighed just 61 pounds.
The doctor who had performed the examination would later testify at trial, stating he couldn’t find an inch of the boy’s body that wasn’t covered by bruising.
Eventually, however, John began to recover. What’s more, no sooner was he declared fit to leave the hospital than did Jody and his wife agree to do something incredible: They wanted to adopt John into their own family.
Every year in the United States alone 700,000 children are circulated in care. The majority of them spend their childhoods moving from foster home to foster home, unable to properly settle.
Jody was well aware of the statistics; well aware than Josh needed his forever home and that he would have to act fast to make it happen.
The idea of adopting John into his home came to him as the boy fought for his life in hospital. Little more than 24 hours after he had met the boy, did Jody and his wife agree there was only one thing to be done.
Fast forward to 2019 and things are very different.
John’s made great strides in his struggle to overcome the trauma forced upon him by his biological parents.
Today, John receives all the love and affection a child could ask for. He’s getting fantastic grades in school and is considered one of the most talented students in his class.
In a small town like Poteau everyone knows everyone, and yet Jody and his family managed to keep the adoption a secret.
They wanted it that way to help protect John’s integrity as he adapted to his new life, as well as because Jody wasn’t seeking praise for what he did. He didn’t want a media fanfare plaguing he and John as they attempted to build John’s next chapter together.
The story continues
Together, the Thompson family have helped John heal the wounds his parents inflicted upon him.
But the story didn’t end there. When Jody was going through the adoption process with John, it was discovered that the boy’s biological mother had also recently given birth to a little girl while in prison.
Without hesitation, Jody and his wife went to the hospital so they could adopt the baby girl too. She was just 24 hours old when the adoption papers were signed.
She’ll now grow up side by side with her biological brother!
When KFSM Fort Smith reported on the story, the reporter asked Jody about the day he found John tied up and beaten. He asked specifically if Jody knew at that time he was looking at his future son.
Fighting back the tears, he answered: “When I saw him … when I saw him in that house, I knew.”
The fact that they share a special connection is clearly evident. They have love and respect for each other, which John is thankful for.
“He’s the reason I’m alive now,” the boy said.
Despite wanting to keep things quiet, Jody’s ‘secret’ adoption became popular news when he was honored with an award for his work.
“We didn’t want the story out there. We didn’t put the story out there. But now that it’s out there and we’ve embraced it, we want the world to know that it’s not all doom and gloom. Especially in law enforcement, we’ve got such a black eye right now for whatever reason, but we’re not all out there just to put handcuffs on people. We really do care about the communities that we live in, and this just shows it,” Thompson said.
Jody and John’s story hit me right in the feels.
What an outstanding officer and father Jody is, doing all he did for John’s sake. Parenting is truly a force from the heart, not from biological connection.
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