Ward of the State

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reviously in Iniquities of the Fathers: Twelve-year-old Levi Robert Reising runs away from his depressing Oatville, North Dakota, home and convinces Minneapolis authorities he is Lee Juan Sanchez. He is taken from his ‘permanent’ foster home for sassing a teacher after a playground fight. Mrs. Brown is a CPS representative and the Murphys provide temporary foster care.


While driving Lee from the Rasmussen’s home to the Murphy’s home, Mrs. Brown said, “You need to understand that you are still a ward of the State.”

Lee asked, “Ward?”

“Yes, ward.” She sounded as if reciting a document. “A ward of the state is one under eighteen whose parents have died, who has no identifiable parents, one who has no responsible adult relatives, or who has been taken from his parents by action of the court.”

Her tone softened. “You are one who came to us on your own with just that note for identification. You are considered abandoned. Sometimes we get a runaway with a fairly convincing oral story, but it doesn’t take long for us to find out.”

Brown, concentrating on traffic, did not see Lee cringe while she continued. “With local runaways there is usually someone looking for them but there have been no inquiries about a boy of your description. Sometimes we get what we call LDRs, kids who manage to get all the way across the country. We figure them out fairly fast. In your case, we have had no response to our letter to the Bakersfield police asking about Mrs. Smith who signed the letter sending you on the bus to your uncle. They’re probably as busy as we are, and a runaway is just a low priority for them.”

She knows!

Lee asked, “You think I ran away?”

“I didn’t say that Lee. I’m just trying to explain a little.”

Sounds a little like Ma when she was bending the truth.

“What will happen to me now?”

“You will stay with the Murphy’s again. Hopefully you’ll be taken by another family if one is willing. I’ll be frank with you Lee; most families do not want a problem child. So this might well be your last chance.”

“Those boys at school shoved me first!”

“That could very well be, but we have to go on what was reported. But, since I actually do believe that part of your story, I’m convicted to give you another chance.”

Convicted – nine letters – found guilty. She must mean convinced.

“Now I’m going to tell you something not to scare you but to make you aware. There are several places for troubled children or those who do not fit well in foster care or at one of the orphanages.”

If I have to go to an orphan place, I’ll just confess and go back to Oatville.

Her tone changed to harsh, “And, you certainly do not want to end up at the Red Wing Training School.”

She really does say some of her words like Aunt Winnie Mae did in Texas.

“Red Wing?”

“It’s a place in Red Wing, Minnesota, where delinquent boys are sent. Some even have to stay there until they are twenty-one if they are considered incorrigible. And, believe you me young man, it is not a pleasant place to be.”

Incorrigible – twelve letters – incapable of being reformed. Crap! Like jail – like Dad. If I confess, they’ll think I’m incorrigible. I said I’d not be like Dad, but he lied all the time and now I tell so many I’m being just like him.


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ext: Lee gets comfortable at the Murphy’s and hopes to be adopted but there will be more foster families and an institution before he makes his next decision to go on the run.

Does he reconnect with his family?


Iniquities of the Fathers does not yet have a publisher.

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