One of 10-year-old Christian’s favorite topics is food. Although lackadaisical about other things happening in his life, the 4th grader is emphatic about his love for fried chicken.
“I like to eat deep-fried chicken,” he says. “When I go to restaurants, I order fried chicken. My favorite meal at school is fried chicken. I love it!”
Christian’s 11-year-old brother Sterling, unlike his younger brother who only eats meat, likes vegetables. Brussels sprouts are his favorite, right now.
“Sterling is smaller,” Christian explains with a grin. “You can see his ribs. I got the fat in the family.”
The two, along with their older brother Caleb, live at Mills Home in Thomasville.
“Caleb is way taller than us,” Christian continues. “He’s seventeen. I’m glad he lives with us here. I would be sad without him – that’s the truth.”
Caleb has been a primary caregiver for Christian and Sterling for many years. “Mills Home is a good place for us, especially my younger brothers,” Caleb says. “We’ve had to deal with some tough things. There were times when it felt like it was just the three of us.”
The boys’ parents’ addictions were cause for nights with no food. Unrest in the home made it difficult to complete their homework. Their dad’s absence while he served jail sentences made for perilous times while the threat of being homeless always weighed heavy on the family. The day came when the boys had to be removed from their home.
“Things were stable when we went to live with our Aunt Tina,” Caleb says. “We were taken care of there – we could depend on my aunt and uncle.”
But raising three boys and caring for their children and grandchild became too much. Although committed, they hoped that there was someone who could come to their aid. That’s when they learned about Mills Home – only minutes from where they live.
“Aunt Tina visits often,” Caleb says. “The three of us visit every other weekend. We are with them on the holidays.”
Caleb says, like most kids, nobody wants to live in a residential home. He and his brothers understand why living at Mills Home is the best thing for them now, but they wished things were different.
Recently, hopes of being reunited with their mom and dad were shattered when on April 13 their mother tragically died. “Everyone wants to live with parents,” Caleb says. “This is a good place, but you always hope that one day things will get better and you can go home.”
The routines at Mills Home help keep the brothers busy. Their days begin at 6:00 a.m. They get ready for school, eat breakfast and straighten their rooms.
All three boys are good students. Despite the troubles at home and transitioning to their aunt’s home and Mills Home, they have maintained their grade levels and test in the upper percentile among their peers.
“I like school,” Sterling volunteers. He is in the academically gifted program at the middle school. “I like to play and stuff, but I really like to read – mystery and fiction books mainly.”
Sterling demonstrates his mental prowess at the checkerboard. His game progresses at what at first seems like a normal pace. Sterling moves one checker. The other player moves. Each player occasionally jumps the other player’s checker. What Sterling’s opponent doesn’t realize is that Sterling is multiple moves ahead in his mind. In a final few moves, he has the knack of clearing the board using multiple jumps and capturing all of the checkers.
Oldest brother Caleb is in the upper 10% of his class with a 3.9 grade point average. “The only classes that give me any trouble are the sciences,” he says, “which is kinda funny since I want a career in medicine.”
Caleb has been a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadet for three and a half years. He is interested in joining the military. He scored extremely high on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – a test to help determine his qualification to enlist.
Caleb also works busing tables at a local eatery. “I’m taking what I earn and I put in my bank account. I’m wanting to save as much as I can for my future.”
The boys were overwhelmed by the love shown them this past Christmas. North Carolina Baptists from churches around the state and the bikers from Randolph County gave gifts and provided parties.
“Not everyone knows it,” Christian confesses, “but the little bear I got this Christmas sleeps with me every night.”
This simple reminder of the love and care of others comforts Christian as he and his brothers focus on the days ahead.
You can help support Christian, Sterling and Caleb, and other children by making an online gift to Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina today at www.bchfamily.org/givenow