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GRAB A TISSUE: What This “Unwanted Child” Can Teach Us

I guess he’s what you would call the poster child for these “unwanted children” we always hear about.

I read about him sitting in my hotel room preparing for a speech to a group of pro-life Canadians last week.  He is nine years old, the same age as my oldest daughter.  His mother had abandoned him, thrusting him into a drama that resulted in the courts placing him with his Dad, Alex Shadlow.  Shadlow and girlfriend Traci Tyler apparently didn’t want him either.

They locked him in nothing short of a dungeon, starved him, and made him urinate in a small tin can or have accidents on himself by refusing to allow him access to a bathroom.  I think what got to me most about this whole sordid tale of abuse was the innocence of the young boy, sitting on the witness stand in court, answering the attorneys’ questions while clutching his stuffed Paw Patrol Chase dog.

I’m not too proud to say that as I read that, I couldn’t help but get emotional.  He held that stuffed animal, trembling from his fear and the complications of the PTSD he now suffers from, as he proceeded to reveal what he had been put through by these monsters who have forever crippled his chance for a normal, healthy life:

 Authorities claim the couple ‘intentionally subjected’ the boy to ‘physical and mental torture’ in a 6-foot-by-6-foot area under the basement stairs for at least nine hours a day from July to September 2017. The basement had no light, furniture, or bedding and the boy had to pee in a tin coffee can. He was also never given food while inside the basement…The boy described being hungry and ‘super cold’ in the basement room. He was afraid because Tyler had told him a dead dog was buried in the room with him. He said he slept sitting up with his arms around his legs to try to keep warm.

Entered into evidence was a video taken by Tyler, the woman filling the role of “mom” in the boy’s life.  She videoed the boy desperately pleading to go to the bathroom, which she refused to allow him to do.  Eventually he lost control and urinated on himself.

Thankfully, caring teachers and school officials noticed the abuse and notified the Department of Human Services:

[C]hild protective worker Carol Allen arrived unannounced at the home in September 2017. At Allen’s prompting, Allen said, Tyler showed her the basement where Allen saw a puddle which Tyler told her was the boy’s urine. Allen said she asked, “Is there a light in there?” She got a negative response; she persisted, “What does he sleep on? Pillow, blanket, anything?” Allen said Tyler replied, “He just ruins those things, so he doesn’t get those things.”

Allen recalled, “I said, ‘This is unacceptable. This is abuse.’” Allen said she asked Tyler if she would sleep in the basement herself; she said Tyler answered, “I would behave.”

If that doesn’t cause you searing grief and pity for the young boy, I don’t know what would.  If it doesn’t arouse in you a righteous anger at those who would hurt him, and an earnest desire to see them be punished for their crimes, it’s fair to question the reliability of your moral compass.  If it doesn’t drive you to your knees to pray for this boy and far too many others around our country and world like him, it must only be because you foolishly choose not to believe in God.

As I thought about those things it dawned on me how this horrific circumstance – how this boy who is the quintessential model of the “unwantedness” epidemic so often cited as justification by those activists who promote the legality and morality of abortion – how this all actually completely undermines their claim.

The compassion that every single one of us feels when reading this account, the grief we experience when thinking about his tiny hands clinging tightly to his stuffed animal, it all testifies to the fact that no child is an unwanted child.  Our emotional and volitional response to this appalling treatment attests to the moral truth written upon all of our consciences that violence towards another human being – particularly the most helpless amongst us – is never an appropriate or moral solution to our social problems. 

Not one of us would suggest that the life circumstances of the father or his girlfriend justify the abuse they inflicted on this boy.

Not one of us would contend that economic insecurity or emotional stress they endure as parents validate their decision to harm a child.

Only a depraved and degenerate mind would look at the boy on the witness stand and think, “This boy should have been killed” rather than “This boy deserves to be loved and cared for.”  You see, no matter how much we, just like the abusing parents, try to repress our consciences in an effort to justify our selfish choices, we know better than that.  Now we must be better than that.

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