Erick Mendes: Overcoming the Circumstances


Photo by Emma Hughes

Emma Hughes, Reporter

I was born in the capital city of Madison, Wisconsin, to a pair of abusive illegal immigrants from Mexico. Growing up in that household I witnessed a lot of abuse towards my older sisters, because the older you were in that family, the more you got abuse. I got abused too, but I mostly just witnessed a lot of abuse. I had two older sisters, one younger brother, and one younger sister that lived in the same household. I did not go to school because the only school available for me was preschool and my parents wouldn’t take me. My sisters didn’t go to school either because they were too injured to go. Back then, a normal day was probably just hiding out in a room scavenging for food and then just trying to avoid our parents. We lived in an apartment, I don’t think my parents could have afforded a house and since they were illegal, they probably had to avoid getting a house so they wouldn’t get caught. I think it had two rooms but it was pretty small because they couldn’t afford much. One injury that I had, I got when I was three. My dad broke my knee by throwing me across the room and I landed on a glass table. I also have a lot of scars that I don’t know what they’re from, but I’m guessing they’re from some stabbings. Those are the main ones I can remember.

I went into the foster system when I was about five years old.”

The official adoption date was August 8, 2012, so I was eight just about to turn nine. I had known the family that adopted me beforehand for about one year because it takes a while to get all the adoption legal work. I got lucky in the foster system. I found a good home that was right for me. I only had to stay in one home throughout the whole time before I got adopted. A lot of kids jump from house to house but I got lucky and I found a good family. I was lucky enough to just stay in that one household. Now, a regular day is going to school, getting amazing grades, going home and just watching TV. It’s basically an average high schoolers day. I have to go to therapy every Wednesday to work through a lot of trauma from when I was young. But I am doing good in school and I’m doing good in other things. I live in a good house with two of my adoptive parents and then siblings. I currently live with two of my birth siblings and one stepsister. I am separated from my two older sisters. They still live in Madison, Wisconsin with their adoptive family and I get to see them about one week a year during the summer.

To this day, if you search my parents’ names on Google, you can find a lot of news articles deem this abuse case “one of the worst child abuse cases in U.S. history.” Now my parents are in prison and will be deported back to Mexico in 2029.