Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15)
The report was sent to Child Protective Services on July10, 2002.
The obituary appeared in the local newspaper on August 6th, and read as follows:
Smith, Cody Mark – 11 months, died Sunday, July 30, 2002 at his residence. Funeral service will be held at 1:30 P.M. Monday, August 8, 2002 at the Swartz Funeral Home…
The first time I ever saw little Cody he was lying in his casket wearing a little red ball cap and bib jean shorts to match. His long strawberry blond eyelashes lay against his soft white cheeks. He looked like a little angel lying there so still in death.
Although I had never seen him other than in his newborn picture, I had seen his mother often. She had received an Easter Basket for herself and for Cody from our Lutheran Teens for Life group the previous Easter. Amanda came to see us at the counseling center on average, about twice a month. We helped her with food, baby food, a crib, a stroller, formula, baby clothes etc. We did devotions with her. We encouraged her to have her baby baptized. We talked to her about her lifestyle and the future for herself and her baby boy. We also talked to her about God’s will for her life. She had brought several friends of hers to our center for help, who in turn brought their friends.
Amanda also had two other children who had been taken from her for alleged child abuse. Her first child, a boy, was taken from her at 3 months of age when the bed they were sleeping in caught fire. The story she told me personally about him was that she had been accused of burning him with a cigarette.
Her former boyfriend had been sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for the abuse of their six week old daughter. She had sustained a broken arm, broken ribs, contusions, a concussion and I’m not sure what all else. The story was that the father of the baby was watching her while Amanda visited a neighbor and he accidentally dropped her. Police and prosecutors have since reopened that case.
As I counseled Amanda I was always conscious of her previous two children and tried to be aware of signs that this child also was possibly being abused. Each time she came to me I encouraged her to bring Cody in so we could meet him but she always had an excuse. I had last spoken with her on July 3rd and in our discussion it came up that Cody went to sleep at 9:30 P.M. and slept until noon each day. I thought this odd for an 11 month old child and after discussing it with the other counselors decided it was time to get in touch with Child Protective Services. At this point however I did not fear for his life. I was mainly concerned that he was being neglected. I didn’t have much to go on, and with C.P.S. gut feelings don’t count. I had hoped however that due to her former history, they would at least check on Cody and make sure he was okay. I received a letter back from them stating that the information I had sent them did not fit the guidelines set down for possible abuse. I was told they would pass it on to the family’s caseworker.
A couple of weeks later we heard of Cody’s death. His mother had punched him in the mouth and banged his head against the wall. Once she realized he was dead she put him in his crib and wedged his head between the bars to make it look like it had been an accident.
Many times I have wondered why the state did not take Cody from her at birth like they had said they would. It is possible I suppose that they didn’t know about him. She didn’t receive any help from the FIA or WIC. My thought is that she didn’t want them to be aware that she had another child for fear that they would indeed take him from her.
Did Amanda love her baby boy? Yes, I believe that she did. Did she love herself more? Yes, I believe so. Did she intentionally kill him? I only know what I read in the paper, but my feeling is that she just lost her temper and got carried away. Did she have mental issues? Yes, definitely. In spite of all that had happened, God still loved/loves her. Jesus died for her. She is forgiven if she would but go to the Lord with a repentant heart.
At the time of Cody’s funeral Amanda was again 3 months pregnant with another child. It has now been 8 years since his death. As far as I know she is still in prison.
As a counselor on the frontlines of battle it is very difficult when these types of situations arise. Our tendency is to second guess ourselves and wonder if we could have done more to prevent it. Yet ultimately God is in control. We have to trust in him. He knows the master plan. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. That means he knows all things and is present everywhere. All things happen according to his will and his purpose for our lives. Beyond that he assigns his angels to watch over each child on this earth and they report back to him. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:10, See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
Pray for the children. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). Not all children live in loving and nurturing homes where they are cherished as gifts from God. Many live each day at the mercy of uncaring, selfish adults. Each of us must do what we can to protect them. Beyond that it is in God’s hands.
It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. (Deuteronomy 32:35)
By Kristeen – To God be the Glory!
(The following is a true story. The names and dates have been changed to protect all involved.)