It’s the kind of story that reminds us about the incredible people that exist in this blue family.
Two years ago, Officer Jody Thompson was pulling into the parking lot at the Poteau Police Department in Oklahoma. He wasn’t on duty at the time, he was there to drop off his partner.
That’s when he overheard a dispatch about a case of physical child abuse, and decided to respond to the call and offer assistance.
It was part of his DNA. Thompson told CBS News that he was an investigator for the district attorney’s office prior to joining the department 16 years ago, and he’d handed dozens of abuse cases.
“I’ve investigated child abuse cases before,” Thompson told CBS News. “I thought I’d better go ahead and respond.”
Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw.
When he got there, a severely underweight 8-year-old boy had his wrists bound by belts, bruises along his back, a huge knot on his head and had just been submerged in a trash can filled with cold water. He weighed just 61 pounds.
“He did not have a spot on his body that didn’t have a bruise or abrasion,” Thompson said. “It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Thompson took the boy, who was named John, and wrapped him in a blanket. He brought him to an Oklahoma Children’s Advocacy Center to be photographed by detectives then brought him to the emergency room.
“I sat with him,” Thompson said. “And when he was admitted into the intensive care unit, I sat all night until the next day.”
Thompson wouldn’t let John out of his sight, and says that from the moment he laid eyes on him, he knew he wanted to be his protector for the rest of his life.
“When I’d seen him in that house shivering and his hands tied — just soaking wet and confused — I knew at that moment the only time I would be satisfied and sure that he was safe is if he was with me,” Thompson said.
The next day, Thompson reached out to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to become a certified foster parent, and brought John home a couple of days later.
“At the time, I had a 15-year-old son and an 8-year-old son. When I brought John home I didn’t tell them or my wife,” Thompson said. “Everyone knew… they trusted I was doing the right thing before they even knew what happened and heard the story.”
That was on April 30, 2015 – two days before he and his wife fought out they were pregnant with their third biological son.
“But the story gets even more incredible,” Thompson explained.
On November 3, 2015, just seven months later, DHS called to inform the Thompsons that John’s mother had given birth to a baby girl while in jail. They asked if they’d be interested in fostering her.
“We literally picked her up in the hospital the next day when she was a day old and brought her straight home,” Thompson said. “Never in my life did I dream of having a large family, but God had different plans and so here we are. And I’m loving it all.”
John’s parents were both incarcerated and awaiting criminal trials. They gave up their parental rights to John, who was then formally adopted by Thompson. But those refused to relinquish rights for their daughter.
“[John’s] the toughest guy I’ve ever met,” said Thompson.
He explained that his son had to testify on his own behalf during the trial.
“John is amazing. He’s a straight-A student, on the honor roll, in the gifted and talented program, involved in the local drama club,” Thompson said of his now 10-year-old son. “That kid’s very resilient. He bounced back from this.”
Last week, Thompson was presented with a certificate of commendation from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations. John stood side by side with his new dad as he graciously accepted it.
“Jody’s actions as well has his families are second to none. The example of love and compassion he has shown to this young man and his sister is an example everyone should follow,” Poteau Police Chief Stephen Fruen said in a statement. “It’s men like you that make me proud of our law enforcement brothers and sisters. You are very deserving of this commendation. I am proud to serve with you.”
Thompson said his son wants others to hear his story to hopefully other abuse victims like himself.
“We went through something bad, but we’re not going got let it define who were are. We’re not going to let this hold us back,” said Thompson. “Always have compassion, you never know what you’re going to walk into.”