From the darkness of abuse to the lights of Times Square
Shawn’s teen birth parents wanted their son to have a good life. The unwed couple believed adoption was the one thing they could do to help guarantee a bright future for the boy. Shawn’s mother turned to the Baptist Maternity Home in Asheville and Shawn was adopted after his birth in 1972.
“I’m convinced if they had known what my life was to become, they would have never put me up for adoption,” forty-six-year-old Shawn Fitchett says. “But how could they have known?”
Shawn’s adoptive mom and dad fought, and the anger his mom felt flowed over onto him. His mom told neighbors that the three-year-old boy’s bruises were evidence of what they feared may be leukemia. Her stories began to create suspicion. She was arrested, convicted on two counts of child abuse, and jailed.
The parents divorced. Shawn lived with his adoptive dad and when his father remarried, the man’s new wife said Shawn had to go. Shawn was 13 years old.
“My dad told me that he had never wanted me in the first place,” he says fighting back tears. “He sent me away.”
After a short time at a youth center, Shawn arrived at Broyhill Home in Clyde. “I was hurting so bad. I kept asking myself, ‘What did I do to deserve all that had happened to me?’”
Life for Shawn was about to change.
“My cottage father at Broyhill Home was Pop Davis,” Shawn Fitchett says. “He was the first man who loved me and treated me with kindness and respect.”
Fitchett remembers his adoptive father coming to a meeting with his social workers and cottage parents. Pop Davis was affirming Shawn for being a hard worker. He recounted how Shawn had mastered using the weed trimmer.
“I was proud that Pop was bragging on me,” Fitchett says. “My dad seemed shocked and asked Pop, ‘How do you get Shawn out there to do anything?’”
Pop Davis didn’t even skip a beat, “He looked my dad in the eyes and said, ‘I get out there with him.’”
Broyhill Home became a haven for young Shawn.
“People here were different than anyone I had ever known.”
He began going to church weekly with his cottage. His cottage parents led daily devotions. He was taught how to set goals and work toward the goals. He had hope for the first time in his life.
“I determined to show all those who thought I wasn’t good for anything that I was someone,” Fitchett asserts.
Four years later at age 18, he left Broyhill Home.
“It was harder than I thought,” Fitchett confesses. “I slipped. My demons came back and I pushed God out. I battled with alcohol and got stuck in a rut.”
Fitchett married his first wife, and their child was born premature. “I was with him in the neonatal intensive care unit,” he recalls. “I was sitting there numb and I felt someone standing beside me. It was an older woman. She smiled sweetly and prayed for my son, for my wife, and for me.”
After she left, Fitchett asked a nurse who the lady was, “That was Ruth Graham,” the nurse said.
Sadly, this marriage ended in divorce. He struggled to keep a job. “I knew I was heading down the wrong way. I would have nightmares dreaming of ending up in prison.”
With the world crashing around him, Fitchett remembers, “I stood in my yard feeling a huge weight crashing on my shoulders and I told the Lord, ‘I give up. I’m tired. Whatever you want God, show me the way.’”
Shawn Fitchett stood in front of the audience at Broyhill Home’s 2018 Western Area Conference (WAC) on September 6 and told of God’s faithfulness.
“I got rid of the ‘poor me’ attitude,” he proclaimed. “I stopped feeling sorry for myself and began depending on God to change me.”
Fitchett career began to soar. He met Crystal, a cervical cancer survivor, and the couple blended their families, marrying in 2016. He has been able to find his birth parents, meet their families, and learn they had never stopped thinking of him.
“I came back today, to my home, to thank you,” Fitchett tells the WAC crowd. “You are my bigger family, and I would not be who I am today if it were not for you.”
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