Jed Maddalon entered foster care after he was found chained to a bed. While he now has a loving family, Jed’s journey through North Carolina’s child welfare system was harrowing. WCNC Charlotte featured his story and it begins with Jed almost dying:
“He was severely neglected to the point of dehydration and starvation, almost death. He was basically left to fend for himself, physically abused,” says Brooks Shelley, Jed’s dad. Shelley and his partner, Billy Maddalon, formally adopted Jed in 2010.
“He was locked in a room and fed from a dish on the floor in a pretty primitive way. I don’t know how else to describe it, except he was raised as a dog,” Billy says.
Jed and his family know this because Jed has his foster care files. The files show that he went through about 30 different placements–all before he turned 13 years old. The trauma of being moved around so much took its toll–Jedwould destroy things in his foster homes to see if his new parents would abandon him like all the rest:
“Once you’ve been backstabbed so many times, it’s just hard for you to trust and love,” he says.
Because Jed often ran away from foster homes, the state sent him to a mental institution. That’s where Brooks and Billy first met Jed, and their memories of that time show what it’s like for some kids who end up institutionalized. According to Brooks, ” “”He seemed lost and defeated.”
“That was a nightmare. Probably the worst place I’ve ever been to in my life,” Jed recalls.
“I’ve likened it to One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest but you know you see that kind of stuff on TV and you don’t actually think it’s real. I’m here to tell you, it’s the juvenile version of it,” Billy says.
Billy and Brooks soon decided to become foster parents and go through the challenging process of getting Jed out of the institution. While both of them had specialized training for dealing with Jed’s PTSD, they were stunned by the level of trauma Jed had been through:
Brooks says, “He liked to eat beneath the table. He would hoard food because he was convinced there wouldn’t be enough food.”
Jed tried to run away, but his new parents refused to give up. Instead, they gave him the love and help he needed. Jed is now 19 and knows that he’s finally with a family that won’t abandon him:
“It took me a while to say that I actually trust them and love them,” Jed admits. “Because I had never trusted anyone or loved anyone.”