My daughter, Erin and her husband Jared Mason are a blended military family living in Okinawa, Japan. They have two children, Angelina and Aadyn both 15 years old who live with them in Okinawa. Jared’s son Aadyn has two half-brothers (no blood relation to Jared or Erin), who lived in the state of Washington.
About a Seven years ago, Jared received full custody of Aadyn due to ongoing neglect by his mother. At the same time Aadyn moved in with his father, Aadyn’s half-brothers, Preston and Devon, were taken away from their mother by Child Protective Services (CPS) and placed into the foster care system.
These boys are now 10 and 12 and have experienced the most heart-wrenching life imaginable. They have been homeless, lived in shelters, the woods, bounced around from unsafe house to unsafe house and sometimes just disappeared with their mother for months.
Most of the boy’s lives were spent in and out of school and in and out of foster care. Their mother has mental health and addiction issues and often neglected the most basic care to her sons. Even so, after the system placed the boys into foster care, they would eventually return the boys back to their mother and into her “care.”
But this all changed two weeks ago.
Jared and Erin were contacted about the boys and informed that Devon and Preston were homeless, had been out of school for months, were soon to be taken away again by CPS, possibly separated and placed permanently into foster care.
Then and there, Jared and Erin decided to do whatever they could to bring these boys into their family. But they had to act fast, so Erin immediately took leave from her job and flew from Japan to Seattle. While she was in the air, Jared spoke with CPS and hired a lawyer. The minute Erin arrived in Seattle she drove to meet the lawyer. At the same time, Erin arranged to meet with the boy’s mother and the next day they all met with CPS. Within two days everything was in place to present their case to the judge. Due to the long history of the boy’s traumatic life, their ongoing issues with CPS and the boy’s mother’s legal history … Erin and Jared were granted full and permanent custody of Devon and Preston, ensuring the boys would never be separated.
Erin immediately packed up the boys and traveled with them to my home in Dallas Texas. Here, she and the boys are protected, coddled and spoiled by my amazing wife, Debra. But there is only so much she we can do.
Erin received the boys in horrible condition; they had nothing… not even underwear or socks, their shoes were too small with holes in them, and their emotional state was in disarray. Their mother provided the wrong social security numbers, no birth certificates, and the most unbelievable part was the ages their mother provided were wrong. Erin discovered the boys lack of schooling was a symptom of overall extreme neglect.
The boys will need private tutors to catch up on years of their education. But before they can start with tutors their vision must be corrected. The youngest has horrible eyesight which affects his ability to learn. He is 10 years old and according to his school records, has a kindergarten reading level. Unfortunately, these specialized glasses will not be covered under insurance. The older brother’s vision isn’t as severe, but it is debilitating because his vision problem in one eye is exactly the opposite from the vision problem in the other eye. He too will require specialized glasses that will not be covered under insurance.
The boys will need clothes, beds, books, tutors, braces, and major dental work. Devon and Preston are starting from nothing. They need so many basic and essential items that most of us take for granted. This entire experience reminds me of the story of the man with no shoes who meets the man with no feet.
Erin and Jared will need to buy passports and plane tickets back to Japan but only after all the paperwork is complete. This is going to be tricky and could take some time because the boys weren’t on Jared’s original military orders.
There have been lawyer fees, court fees, hotels, rental cars, bus tickets, clothes and shoes. In addition, Erin and Jared have lost Erin’s income while she’s here working to clear the path for the boys and their new life in Okinawa.
Because of Jared and Erin, these boys will be raised together and reunited with their brother Aadyn. They will grow up in a loving extended family and the amazing Mason’s will have two more sons to celebrate. However, their efforts and this journey to save them have been very expensive. This was nothing they could have foreseen or planned; once it happened, they would not turn their heads, they decided to react.
My wife and I, with our extended family, are helping but this is beyond our ability, so anything you can do to assist would be greatly appreciated.