Today I'm not here to make a story up. No today is about something real. Something very real. One of my close friends Shaelyn has been through things that I wish I'd never learned, but that doesn't mean I will push the issue away. The only reason I had wished I'd never heard it before is because I didn't want to know someone had felt such pain and had had little to no help from the government. It is the governments ideal to protect its people, but it has failed in doing so countless of times. My friend is a very strong-willed person. I would have never guessed this had happened to her. In order for you all to understand I have to start with her story then travel back to her grandmothers and then back to hers. This is the story of life. A story of courage and hope. A story of betrayal and love. And lastly a story of truth.

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In the early morning at 3:50 on January 18, 1997, a new life was beginning. A healthy baby girl had taken her first breath into the world. Innocent. New. Young. Inside of this hospital, on the Maternity Floor of Mount Caramel Medical Center, her mother, Karman Knapp, and her father, Jamal Hairston, had no idea what to do with this newborn child. They had no feelings toward each other besides the feeling of hate, and they weren't married. Little over two months pass and the decision of what will become of this tiny person has been decided. Jamal splits, leaving his daughter without a father. Karman is left to take care of the baby girl on her own. The only problem is that this doesn't last long. Four months pass since Jamal left, and Karman has found a boyfriend. One day the mother comes home to find her six month old daughter bruised and blooded. The only person able to do this was her boyfriend, Tony. Shaelyn suffers a fractured skull and many bruises. She is barely clinging to life. This is the part where the government shows they "care." An investigation is put together. A long, drawn out investigation. It does little to nothing to help baby Shaelyn. Instead, it chases her mother and Tony away. They leave her. All alone. No oneā€¦.Or so it seemed. The last person left to take on the responsibility was her grandmother, Cindy. When the thought of Shaelyn being put into adoption surfaced, Cindy decided to raise baby Shaelyn herself. To quote Shaelyn's speech of courage, "Cindy stood up for someone who didn't have a voice, or really a chance, because she thought it was the right thing to do. Because that's courage."

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Cynthia Sue DeLong was born on September 11, 1956. Cynthia, or Cindy, would spend the rest of her life in hardship. She would always face extreme moments of grief and moments of loss so great it shakes the core. From the time she could walk she was shuffled around from relative to relative, never having somewhere to call home. She was alone in life, not having someone who was always there, like most of us have been blessed with. From the ages of ten to fourteen Cindy is her own support beam, holding up her life. She is pushed to her limits and then yanked back to the beginning. When she turns fifteen, Cindy is defiled by her mother's boyfriend. She is tormented and neglected. In the end she becomes pregnant and is forced to have an abortion out of state. Shame. Anger. Disgust. She pulled herself through the wafting waters of depression and hatred and became a better person. She dreamed of "a better tomorrow that still hasn't come." Now we will go forward six years to when Cindy is 21. She meets Sam. She falls in love. They get married and are happy for a while, but as we all have learned at some point, happiness never lasts. A full eleven years she puts up with Sam. With his ways of alcoholic and drug crazed manners. He disgraces himself by beating her, cheating on her, and leaving her and their children without the necessities they need for weeks at a time. Then one day he leaves, never to return to his "home." Her children, now in high school scorn her for causing them so much grief, for letting them live the way they did. But the fact of the matter is, Miss Cynthia Sue DeLong, never gave up her fight of having someone who she can actually care for.

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Now let's fast forward many years, to when little Shaelyn is three. Having had no true father, her uncle, Corey, treated her like his own. Unfortunately her uncle was died in a gang related murder. She has not only lost her father and mother, but also her uncle. Grief. Devastation. Trauma. Seeing how she has lost all those who she has ever loved except for her grandmother and a few others, wouldn't you think it would be difficult for her to make friends? Let's travel to now. Now she is surrounded by people who care. She isn't someone who gave up. She and her grandmother are people who can stand up when they get knocked over and never lose any fever. These are two extraordinary ladies who have survived so much. Shaelyn is now fifteen and she is funny, sarcastic, caring, scared at times, timid, and a little ditzy, but the one thing she isn't is a quitter. She has the strength and will to go places, do things, and teach people. In this story there is pain, but there is also happiness. The government is doing a terrible job at protecting those who need it and locking away those who cause harm. I wish for justice. I want Shaelyn to be happy, but I don't want to cause her guilt over me writing this. I did it on my own. It was something I had to do. The world needed to know, and I am not afraid to tell them.

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So guys tell me honestly, what did you think? Did you cry? Get angry? See any similarities in your own lives? Please don't be afraid to speak your mind. You never know what will happen if you hold it in.