Episode 1 – Lil’ Annikin
Shihiem is the third out of 10 living children born to his mother. Mom started having kids at age 16. Daddies took turns fathering children while taking turns in and out of jail.
At age 4, Shihiem set the curtains on fire. The firefighters came and found him unsupervised with one infant sibling and one toddler sibling. The state was concerned, and that is how the first five kids ended up in foster care.
Shihiem once told me, “I knew I was bad. When I was three I purposely dropped a dozen eggs on the floor. I knew what I was doing. And I knew I was bad.”
Shihiem’s siblings, for the most part, stayed together in foster care. The system didn’t fly with Shihiem. He was troubled. He was angry at his mother for abandoning him. The system put him on medications right away. He didn’t like the way the medications made him feel.
For the next 13 years, he was sent from home to home eleven times. In one home he told me he “became a man” at age 7. The state ended up sending that foster mom to prison.
At age 9, he finally landed in a more stable foster home. He would spend the next 8 years here. This foster mom wanted to adopt him, but Shihiem’s birth mother would not sign the papers.
Even though he was angry, Shihiem longed to have a relationship with his mom. He ran away from his foster home various times, hoping to find her. He frequently asked his social workers if they had any information about his mom, but did not get any, which led to his deep resentment towards the Department of Human Services.
Eventually, via Facebook, Shihiem and a few of his siblings in foster care reconnected with their mom. At age 17 his mom agreed to let Shihiem stay at her home with his siblings, and his foster mom agreed to let him go, since he only had one year left of Human Services.
By God’s grace, Shihiem finished high school. He also can read, unlike a percentage of Philadelphia high school graduates. His senior project was on Julius Caesar. He enjoyed learning math and chemistry, and could rehash some basic concepts to me with some degree of accuracy.
Shihiem, if you are reading this, I am proud of you for reading! All copy/book/movie rights to this story are yours. Just sayin’ since you prolly wanna sue me.
Love (because of Christ),