Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why I Haven't Commented on Phoebe Jonchuck's Murder

Two days ago, Phoebe Jonchuck was thrown off the Sunshine Skyway bridge by her biological father. Phoebe and I live in the same county. She died about 40 minutes from my home. Phoebe Jonchuck was 5-years old.

When I heard the news of her murder, less than 8 hours after it happened, I couldn't help but think of January 2008.

On the same day as Phoebe's murder, I saw Facebook tributes and shared articles that showed pictures of her parents. I read so many angry comments. Scouring the online articles, stalking her mother's own Facebook page, I stared at the pictures of her father, captured and booked less than an hour after he killed his daughter. And I thought of January 2008.

On the same day as Phoebe's murder, my foster son's Guardian Ad Litem (volunteer legal representative) called me. Her voice was shaking, her words bordered on frantic. She asked me if I had heard about Phoebe and I told her about January 2008.

In 2008 I was finishing graduate school in Honolulu, Hawaii. On January 18 of that year, just a few minutes from my home, a low-functioning meth addict walked into the apartment of another meth addict, picked up her 1-year old son, carried him to a nearby pedestrian overpass and threw him into H-1 traffic. I passed under that bridge everyday. The baby's name was Cyrus.

You see, even though my son is a healthy, bouncing 6-mo old, his Guardian knows he, and 999 other children in Pinellas County, are Phoebe Jonchuck. The only difference between those kids and Phoebe is that little Phoebe, just like baby Cyrus, never spent a single night in foster care. Tonight, 1,000 luckier children will. 

I haven't commented on Phoebe's Jonchuck's murder because I, along with every other foster family, have been busy preventing another tragedy. Being busy doesn't make us less angry, it doesn't take the shaking out of our voices when we talk about our kids' cases. And nothing about being a foster parent makes you feel good about any tragedy. While we all hug our little ones closer when we hear about children like Phoebe and Cyrus, I know every foster parent pauses, thinks, or prays---this is why we do.