Every year around this time, we hear the classic Marty Robbins’ Christmas Song:
Christmas is for kids, anyway (anyway) You hear this expression every day May the ones, far and near, have a family this year Since Christmas is for kids, anyway.
The Christmas song continues with the line, “For they all need a part in somebody’s heart” and challenges the listener:
May we all look around for a child who’s been let down And love him as we would be loved And regardless of his need may somebody take heed Since Christmas is for kids, anyway.
Many of us take on the challenge by packing shoe boxes with small gifts to send to children in developing nations, “adopting” a needy American family from the “Angel Tree” at church, and/or giving to the Salvation Army or other charitable groups so that needs can be met.
However, we are all aware that nothing can replace a family’s devotion and commitment: nobody loves a child with the same fierce intensity as his or her parents. The government can only do so much. Taxpayer funding can only do so much. The lack of a father in the home is a void that nobody else can fill. Sadly, millions of American children face every holiday and every routine day living with the reality of a never-married mother. Sometimes the situation is life-threatening.
The case of young Deamonte Driver illustrates that point.
In a rare but tragic case in Maryland, twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died on February 25, 2007, from a severe brain infection caused by the bacteria from an infected tooth. Deamonte’s story illustrates the problems facing many children who lack a married mother-father family. Even though his family was eligible for Medicaid coverage, the Driver family’s coverage had lapsed. The never-married mother explained that three of her five sons had gone to stay with their grandparents in a two-bedroom mobile home while the paperwork to confirm their eligibility was mailed to the shelter where they used to live. Deamonte’s bill for two weeks at Children’s Hospital was expected to be between $200,000 and $250,000; he also had more than six weeks of additional medical treatment, as well as physical and occupational therapy at another hospital. So, although an $80 tooth extraction would probably have taken care of the original problem and saved his life, neither he nor his brothers had received routine dental attention.
The problem? No one had taken care of the paperwork necessary for treatment.