San Antonio/ Community & Society
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 14, 2024
Bexar County Confronts Child Abuse Surge, San Antonio Man Finds 'Forever Home' After Years of NeglectSource: Unsplash/ Marisa Howenstine

Bexar County is facing a child abuse crisis, with an alarming rise in the number of cases and children in need of foster care. CASA CEO Angie White expressed her heartbreak to KENS 5, saying, "We're seeing younger children damaged like we've never seen before." White highlighted the importance of community vigilance, urging, "If you see something, say something." In her view, the kinship caregivers brought into the restructured child welfare system have failed to curb the instances of mistreatment.

In the face of these disturbing trends, some older victims of the foster system have found rays of hope. Abraham Garcia, a San Antonio man who grew up enduring abuse and neglect, was recently taken in by a local couple, giving him what he calls a "forever home." Garcia's plight, which included being used as a drug mule by his mother's boyfriend, has been replaced by a nurturing environment provided by Lorena Rodriguez and Art Molina. Details of Garcia's transformation were provided to the San Antonio Express-News, where Garcia shared the comfort he finds in his new family dynamic: "We don't fight, we talk. We don't hit." Garcia's legal guardianship was finalized on Dec. 8, marking the end of a torturous journey through foster care that began in 2005.

Despite the individual successes, Bexar County's system is inundated with victims. White told KENS 5 that there have been fifteen additional deaths this year and over 3,600 children in the county's foster system. The CASA CEO described the rising cases of child sexual abuse as "heinous" and emphasized the essential role of law enforcement and community members in confronting these horrors.

The struggle to protect these vulnerable children is juxtaposed by heartening stories like Garcia's and John King's, another young man who suffered tremendous physical abuse until Molina and Rodriguez welcomed him into their family. Reflecting on his transformed life with a family that doesn't use qualifiers like "foster" or "step," King feels "blessed" and grateful to have found a nurturing home where he is treated as any biological child would be. Their story is a testament to the importance of community engagement in helping to end cycles of abuse and neglect.

Ruchi Davis, program manager for Bexar County Children’s Court College Docket, told the San Antonio Express-News that the search is ongoing for individuals capable of caring for older youths who cannot live independently. Davis notes that while adult guardianship cases like Garcia's can be time-consuming, taking up to 18 months to finalize, the results can be "perfect" when the right match is made. Garcia and his new family are preparing to celebrate the holidays together, a tradition filled with food, music, and gratitude for the safe haven they've found in each other.