Emotional and physical scars

Two boys have nothing but hope

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series.

It was a dark, frigid night. The car set idly in a parking space. As the rear end of the automobile faced the gas station, the two occupants glared into the busy street. After a few moments, two young children approached the rear of the vehicle.

By Chris Slone
Twitter: @crslone

Two boys, with more emotional scars than physical possessions, were carrying everything they owned. They both had a pair of jeans, pair of socks, blanket, mittens, scarf and a toy — which Santa had brought to the homeless shelter two weeks prior.

“This is what bothers me the most,” Lori Davis said.

Bryan and Lori Davis live rural Ohio. By their admission, they have a “great” life. They raised their daughters, sent them to college and watched them start families of their own. Bryan and Lori finally had time to start planning that next chapter in their lives.

However, one phone call put those plans on hold.

Lori and her sister grew up in poverty. When Lori met Bryan, they had nothing. However, Bryan and Lori worked their way out of poverty and into the life they enjoy today.

Lori’s sister, on the other hand, continued to live in poverty. She also raised two sons in poverty, Colten and Blake.

Lori’s sister lived with their mother and her two sons. However, with Lori’s mother disabled, no one brought in a steady source of income. The children often had no food and no running water. On top of those issues, Lori’s sister wasn’t the most dependable person.

In Dec. 2014, Lori’s sister disappeared with the boys. It first started as a night. Then the weekend came and went. Then it turned into a week.

As Christmas was approaching, Lori was looking after her mother who required complete care, while the questions surrounding her sister and nephews continued to build. Like they did every Christmas, Lori and Bryan had presents waiting under the tree for Colten and Blake, but Christmas quickly passed without a trace.

“That was the moment we really knew something was wrong,” Lori said. “Why would she not even tell us where she is?”

At the beginning of January, Lori’s sister finally reached out via Facebook. She was in Columbus, Ohio with her children, she had a job and she was trying to make it on her own. She felt like Columbus was the answer.

However, shortly after Lori’s sister sent the positive message, she finally told Lori and Bryan the truth — or at least the part she wanted them to know. She was in trouble. They were staying at a homeless shelter and their time had concluded. To make matters worse, the homeless shelter contacted children services because the boys had not been in school during their six-week stay.

Lori’s sister was given several options, and eventually reached out to Bryan and Lori, and asked them to take her children. She wanted to continue to stay in Columbus while her children went back to Scioto County, Ohio.

Lori and Bryan didn’t have time to make plans or even process their feelings. Child Services was working on a strict deadline and within minutes, the duo had decided they were going to Columbus to pick up the boys.

“We were in the mode of we want to protect the children, because we never had a good feeling about it,” Bryan said. “Something wasn’t right. I felt like she was under the control of somebody. We just couldn’t put a finger on it.”

On their way to Columbus, Lori kept pleading with her sister for the address but each attempt proved futile. Instead of a house, Lori kept receiving gas station addresses and even a Kroger’s’ address.

Finally, Lori accepted a gas station as a destination and the duo impatiently waited for the children. Moments later, Colten and Blake approached the rear of the vehicle.

“They did sneak up on us,” Bryan said. “My first view of them was out of my side view mirror. Here were these two little kids coming out of the darkness with a black trash bag full of their stuff.”

Colten and Blake

According to Bryan, it was apparent the boys weren’t eating. The appeared to be physically starving.

“They were clearly underweight, shaven heads, sunken eyes,” Bryan said. “When we got them, they looked like concentration-camp kids — basically the pictures you see in the holocaust. Not the extreme starvation, but maybe a month after being at those camps. I don’t know any other way to describe it.

“It was that sad.”

After a brief meeting with the boy’s mother, the Davis’ offered a helping hand. They filled her car up with gas and asked her to come home to her family — regardless of whatever situation she had gotten herself into.

“She was teary eyed,” Bryan Davis. “She knew we were about to drive off with her kids. She did show genuine remorse. She was sorry for the situation.”

The Davis’ even offered the boy’s mother to come and live with them. There was no reason why they could all be one big happy family.

“She kept saying, ‘I can’t, I can’t go with you,’” Bryan Davis said. “So, we drove away.”

Once the Davis’ took the boys, they had to file for emergency temporary custody. The children had a plethora of needs, which needed attention immediately. First and foremost, the boys needed to start going to school.

Neither child had ever been taught anything of significance. Colten, who was 7 years old at this time, requires a special amount of attention. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder).

“We knew he needed a special class to help him developmentally and we knew he had a low IQ,” Bryan said. “Colten is very obsessive and loses focus, and is not very good at verbalizing conversation. When we got him, he could not do math, he could not read, he could not write.

“Blake struggled terribly but he was younger.”

The Davis’ provided a stable and loving home to Colten and Blake, but for how long? As they made that initial drive to Columbus, they conversed about that very scenario.

“We said this could be very temporary or this could be forever,” Lori recalled. “Are we OK either way? Temporary is just as hard as forever. Temporary means everything we are going to do and get attached too can be torn away. Are we OK with that? We said we were.”

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