Police officer Jody Thompson received a report of child abuse and arrived on the scene to find a heartbreaking case of hurt and neglect. Little did he know, though, that the case would change his life.
Before that day, Thompson had worked on dozens of similar cases. Indeed, he’d been an investigator for the district attorney’s office before becoming an officer with the Poteau Police Department in Oklahoma in 2011. And as an investigator, he had looked into many child abuse allegations.
His work was perhaps made even more personal by the fact that Thompson had a family of his own at home. With his wife Jeannie, he had two sons, Ryan and Charley, who were 15 and eight when he received that fateful call in 2015.
Thompson was off duty at the time, in fact, but had given his partner a ride to their police station. As he pulled into the parking lot, he heard a call on the radio that caught his attention. It was a report of physical child abuse.
“I’ve investigated child abuse cases before. I thought I’d better go ahead and respond,” Thompson later told CBS News. As a result, he made his way to the scene. But upon his arrival, Thompson encountered what he described as “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
The officer reportedly discovered an eight-year-old boy who weighed a mere 61 pounds, meaning he was severely underweight. Moreover, the child was allegedly tied up with belts around his wrists. And “he did not have a spot on his body that didn’t have a bruise or abrasion,” according to Thompson.
On top of that, the boy had reportedly been dunked into a trash can filled with cold water. Thompson cloaked him with a blanket before transporting him to the Oklahoma Children’s Advocacy Center. There, police officers would take photographs to document the eight-year-old’s physical condition.
The officer then transported the boy to an emergency room – and he never left the eight-year-old’s side. “I sat with him,” Thompson said. “And when he was admitted into the intensive care unit, I sat all night until the next day.”
Something about the incident set Thompson thinking. In fact, he felt as if the abused boy was part of his family, even though he wasn’t Thompson’s biological son. It was something that entered his mind as soon as he arrived on the scene of that 911 call.
“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 recalled. So, he decided to act.
Indeed, with that epiphany, the father-of-two sprang into action the very next day. Thompson got in touch with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, so that he could be registered as a foster parent. And he was able to bring the boy, whose name was John, to his new home – Thompson’s family home – on April 30, 2015.
The only person looped in on Thompson’s decision was the police officer himself, though. “When I brought John home, I didn’t tell [my sons] or my wife,” he said. But he faced little resistance from his family.
“They trusted I was doing the right thing before they even knew what happened and heard the story,” Thompson recalled. And little did they know, but the tale of John’s adoption would become “even more incredible” still, according to the police officer.
Just two days after Thompson brought John home, he received some unexpected news from his wife. She was expecting their third biological child, a son, whom they would name Zaven. And almost seven months later, Thompson received yet another shocking piece of information.
The police officer received a call from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, who had news regarding John’s biological parents. While in prison, John’s mother had had another baby, a girl – and the newborn needed a foster family.
Unsurprisingly, Thompson didn’t hesitate. “We literally picked her up in the hospital the next day when she was a day old and brought her straight home,” he said. With that, he had five children – a family of seven – and he could barely believe it.
“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,” Thompson said. The police officer had one more hurdle to clear before officially completing his extra-large brood, though – formalizing John and his sister Paizley’s adoptions.
In August of 2016 the Thompsons adopted John without a fight from his parents, both of whom were in jail before their trials. As for little Paizley, they wouldn’t rescind their parental rights to her. Eventually, though, the courts allowed the Thompsons adopt the young girl.
For all of his actions, the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation honored Thompson in June of 2017 with a certificate of commendation. “Jody’s actions as well as his family’s are second to none. The example of love and compassion he has shown is an example everyone should follow,” police chief Stephen Fruen told CBS.
As for John, he apparently adjusted well to his new life, earning straight As in school and performing with a drama club. He even shared his backstory with the intention of aiding others who might have been through similar experiences. Perhaps he took his own father’s words of wisdom into consideration – “Always have compassion, you never know what you’re going to walk into,” Thompson said.