When I first started looking at the photos of the three kids found abandoned in a shed in Portland, Oregon this week, my eyes got misty. But the longer I looked at pictures police took of the two girls and one boy left in the midst of the northwest city's homeless population, the less I felt like crying. Their sweet little faces have made me angry.
I'm angry at the kind of person, who takes three helpless children -- cops say the youngest girl may not even be a year old yet!?! -- and dumps them amongst a population known best for mental illness and a disrespect for authority. Making it worse? The homeless people told cops they think the woman who abandoned them was their mother.
I wanted to give the woman the benefit of the doubt, that she was down on her luck and looking for someone to care for her kids. But that idea went out the window with the words "shed" and "homeless."
Leaving kids at a firehouse or hospital is well-meaning, even if it's wrong. There are professionals there who can handle the needs of a child.
Leaving kids at a vacant residence with a bunch of bums, on the other hand? That's criminal. Plain and simple.
If not actual child abuse, it's got to be negligence. It's cruel and inhumane.
The youngest child, a girl with short black hair, brown eyes, and two front, lower teeth showing, is estimated to be somewhere between 8 and 15 months old. The other girl is around 2 years old, weights 28 pounds and, has long black hair and brown eyes. The third child, the only boy, also weighs around 28 pounds, has brown eyes and black hair, and seems to be around 3. These kids were the definition of helpless. And they were left in a place where help wasn't likely to be found.
To prevent spreading more myths about the homeless population, I should be clear: just because someone is homeless does not make them dangerous to kids. But it also does not make them likely able to care for children. The homeless in America are struggling to survive. They often go to sleep at night with little food in their own bellies, so the likelihood that they have extra to spare for some toddlers is slim to none. Their shelter is, well, the name says it all, doesn't it?
And for single homeless people, drug use and mental illness are among the top three reasons they are in that state. They may not be cruel to those children, but they're also not exactly people who are fit to care for kids.
Not to mention the homeless population is not known for purposely seeking out the police. These people would be less likely to get these kids to authorities who help them ... making this act seem that much more criminal.
Police are left now with only the pictures and descriptions of these three children to lead them to their parents. I hope they're identified quickly, both for the kids' sakes and so the person who did such an unspeakable act to three innocent kids can be sent directly to jail.
What do you think should be done to the person who abandoned these children?
Image via Portland Police