Terry Smith Jr. A mother in California is facing quite possibly the hardest test a parent has ever faced. The dead body of Shawna Smith's autistic 11-year-old son, Terry Smith Jr., was found buried in her backyard. Cops say her 16-year-old son, Skylor Atilano, killed his little brother.
What's a mother to do? Abandon her oldest child? Or stand by him?
Shawna Smith has settled for the latter. Yes, this mom is standing by a child accused of murdering another child. As she told her local NBC station: "I'm not going to say he's innocent, but I'm not going to say he's guilty either. I love him and I'm going to stand behind him no matter what."
We could all sit around and judge her for her choice. It's practically the American way.
But before you do, look at what this mother has to contend with. She has one dead child, one facing murder charges. Oh, and on top of that, CPS has taken away her daughter while cops investigate what happened to Terry. Her life has, quite literally, been turned upside down. Walking away from one of her kids would only compound the trauma.
The hard truth is that every criminal came from somewhere. Many have moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents who love them. It's not easy to just turn off years of caring for someone when they do something wrong.
Granted, the crime Skylor is accused of is among the most heinous in this world. A child who murders can test even a mother's love. And that's with the murder of a stranger. I can't imagine how much worse it would be when the charge is murder of a sibling.
If Skylor did it, he took away one of the most precious things in Shawna Smith's life. But then, HE is ALSO one of the most precious things (people) in her life.
And the sad fact is, she can't bring Terry back. Turning away from Skylor right now won't fix anything.
So she's standing by him. She's being a mom to both her boys, not just one.
I don't envy her, but I sure as heck respect her.
How about you? What would you do in Shawna Smith's position?
Image via police