By NICK CHILES
There was joy in Texas earlier this week when a long-distraught mother, Auboni Champion-Morin, whose child has been missing since 2004, was told that her boy, now 8, was discovered by authorities and a reunion is scheduled in Houston home by the end of the week. The boy’s former babysitter and godmother, Krystle Rochelle Tanner, now 26, was arrested on felony kidnapping charges.
What is most disturbing about this extremely disturbing case is how horrendously Tanner treated this child, named Miguel, after she disappeared with him. According to reports, the 8-year-old boy apparently has never been to school—and one of the names Tanner called him was “Dirty.”
I don’t assume to understand the thought processes of an 18-year-old girl who would steal some woman’s baby—a woman with whom you were close enough for her to grant you the privilege of being the child’s godmother and frequent babysitter—but why would you then treat the child as if you didn’t want him? If he was such a bother to you that you didn’t even take the time to register him for school, and you had such little regard for him that you would give the child a name like “Dirt,” what the hell was your motivation here?
The things that grown folks do to children can be so heartbreakingly cruel, you almost want a special jail set up just for the child abusers—a place where the sun never rises and the food tastes like crushed glass.
The boy’s mother, Auboni Champion-Morin (pictured above), said she and her husband, Fernando, never stopped hoping they would one day be reunited with her child. Once Miguel is back in her arms, the family—she and Fernando have five other kids, ranging in age from 7 to 14—will have to shower him with every ounce of love they can muster, to try to repair the damage done during eight years when he probably didn’t know love existed. At a court hearing, a child welfare investigator said the boy couldn’t read and thought he was just 6. A disturbing side note: when the baby went missing, police in Houston didn’t issue any public alerts because, according to Champion-Morin, she couldn’t afford the $500 police told her she needed to pay to have the alerts issued. I wasn’t aware that you had to pay police to have your kidnapped child recovered. I was under the assumption that the government collected tax dollars that got disbursed to the police department to solve crimes. Is that a naive assumption?
And in the meantime, what do we do about Miss Tanner, who apparently has a younger child of her own? In fact, the break in the case came when authorities were alerted that Tanner and her boyfriend were neglecting their two children at their home 200 miles from Houston. An investigation revealed that the older child did not belong to her. At one point Tanner told authorities she was watching the boy for a woman she met in the park.
So much strife and pain in the life of this young boy. So much damage. For eight years, he didn’t even know he was missing, didn’t even know his real age—and he thought this horrific woman, the kidnapper, was his mother. Let’s pray that his real mother, the Texas woman who has prayed for him every night for the past eight years, will be able to summon enough motherly magic from deep in her soul to coax him back to health. When that boy sees the joy on her face and she sweeps him in her arms for the first time, he will instantly know he’s in a different place. At that moment, his healing will begin.
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Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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I hope the family gets therapy and support. Loving him will be easy; him learning to receive it, another story. I will lift them in prayers….
My goodness, was the $500 for an Amber Alert thing ever looked into? This child could have been found much sooner and undergone far less.