Tears for Miracle and Tony
I didn’t know the children, yet my tears freely flowed as I watched the newscaster say the search for the children had turned into a recovery mission and they were looking for their small bodies in Mingo Creek. After three days of intense searching by first responders and volunteers, a surveillance camera video surfaced, showing the siblings playing in a grassy area near the creek. The video also showed the siblings hand in hand, going down the embankment and entering the rushing waters. They never reappeared. No, I never met three-year-old Miracle or her two-year-old brother Tony, but their images will be forever in my mind, and I’ll carry a sad place in my heart for them. I grieve their deaths, as we all should.
I also mourn what I imagine their lives were. According to the police, their mother said she never wanted them and didn’t care what happened to them. My heart crumbled, hearing the mother’s words and imagining what sadness those innocent children experienced in their two and three years on earth. What thoughts were going through their minds as they clung together, entered the water, and were swept away? Even a young child knows when they are not wanted or loved. Even an infant feels the pain of neglect and bears emotional scars. I hope Miracle and Tony experienced moments of happiness in their lives amidst the pain.
Maybe I grieve more intensely because I have a grandchild about the same ages as Miracle and Tony and cannot even imagine this scenario, him being out on his own to fend for himself and meeting such an untimely demise. Or perhaps my tears are for all children in our world: I cry for all the babies who aren’t cherished and loved, taken care of and protected.
Years ago, I was watching the Oprah show, and I remember her saying every parent wants what is best for their children, and I thought, “If only that were true.” The sad reality is many parents care more about drugs, or alcohol, or their own pursuit of happiness. I don’t know Miracle and Tony’s mother. I’m only going by what she told the police, that the children “don’t even matter” and a few other harsh phrases that left not much in question. Judgment on her is not for me to give, but I know she is wrong about one thing. Her children did matter. Every single child matters.
I grieve for Miracle and Tony as I hurt for every neglected and abused child. With the loss of a child, a little piece of our humanity dies with them. As many as eight children die from neglect or abuse each day in the United States. Seventy-five percent are under the age of three, and black children are two and a half times more likely to die as a result of neglect or abuse as Hispanic or Caucasian children.
Like the more than 1700 children who will die this year from neglect or abuse, Miracle and Tony were failed by the people who were supposed to protect them. They deserved better. All children do.
What can you do if you suspect abuse?
Every citizen is legally required to report suspected child abuse, and failure to do so may result in criminal charges. If you suspect child abuse, contact the Department of Human Services Child Protective Services at the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511. If there is imminent danger, call 911.
What if you need help with your child?
Under Oklahoma’s Safe Haven laws, a parent may relinquish an infant up to seven days old without any legal repercussion. Infants can be taken to any police station, fire station, or hospital.
If you have an older child and need assistance, call DHS at (918) 295-3500. If you need immediate help, call the child abuse hotline at 1-800-522-3511. Call 911 in case of emergency or 211 for access to community services.
(Friday afternoon update – Two bodies recovered from the water have been identified as the two missing children.)