A Wednesday's Child reunion: Joseph's story




Posted on March 1, 2012 at 12:18 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 5 at 5:08 PM

For every youngster we feature in our Wednesday's Child reports, there is a sad story most of us will never understand.

Joseph's story is no different. It started 23 years ago, when he and his little sister were abandoned by their mother at the Dallas Life Foundation.

I first met Joseph in July, 1990. It was supposed to be a fun day at the Dallas Zoo, but he was a quiet, distant four-year-old already carrying the scars of a failed out-of-state adoption.

A Jewish couple adopted Joseph and his sister Jackie, but they later decided Joseph was too much trouble.

Jackie stayed in New York while Joseph was sent back to Texas.

Eventually, Joseph returned to a Dallas foster home, where he found stability but not exactly safety in the Highland Hills neighborhood.

"Every night, my pops had to carry a rifle outside; the gangs were walking up the street and he had to protect the house," Joseph remembered.

Joseph grew to love his foster mother, but she died when he was just six — another loss leaving him sad, mad, and finding a "family" in gangs.

He showed us his tattoos. "I got the reaper of death, symbol of my life, all those I lost in my life... death... tragedy," Joseph said.

Joseph aged out of the system. He was 18 and had nowhere to turn.

Hope came with college acceptance; he played football at Prairie View A&M, met his future wife, and made peace with God.

But there was still a hole in his heart, a hole that only a mother could fill.

"I wanted to know my mom; I wanted to know my history; I wanted to know what happened, why I was given up," he said. "There were a lot of questions that needed to be answered."

Joseph tracked down his mother, Annetta Head, through the phone book. They met face-to-face in 2005.

"I held her close to me and I told her, 'I love you and I forgive you,'" Joseph said.

"That moment like for me was ecstatic," Head said. "I finally got to see the son I gave up."

It was a bittersweet reunion. Annetta Head was no better off than that day she abandoned her children at the Dallas Life Foundation.

"I had no means, no will to help them at that point in time... I couldn't," she said. "I was on drugs, but God helped me through that."

Head has now been clean for two years, dealing with disability after suffering a stroke.

She and Joseph are rebuilding their family, including an older brother he didn't even know he had. Two years ago, Joseph celebrated a reunion with his sister, Jackie.

It's a new beginning. Hearts are mending. And regrets are fading away.

"I love you, you know that," Head told her son.

"I love you, too, Mom," Joseph said.

Joseph never got a reunion with his father; he died in 2004 from drug and alcohol abuse.

Joseph now works counseling troubled teens, and lives with his wife and sons in southeast Texas.

He visits his mother every chance he gets.

E-mail gcampos@wfaa.com