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The Livermore Independent


22 Jun 2023

LIVERMORE — A longtime resident credits the City of Livermore with saving his life, and wrote a book – “Broken Boy” – to tell his story.

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LIVERMORE — A longtime resident credits the City of Livermore with saving his life, and wrote a book – “Broken Boy” – to tell his story.

A ward of the foster care system since he was 5, Gino Medeiros spent his formative years in 1980s in Livermore, facing challenges most kids don’t. From instability to abuse, Medeiros managed to overcome the hurdles life placed in his path and achieve happiness. Now facing his 53rd birthday, Medeiros has a family and personal peace. He said his primary motivation for writing “Broken Boy” was to reach others in the foster system.

“I want to say that I’ve been through it, and I’m doing ok,” Medeiros said. “Unfortunately, I am an exception to the statistics. I wrote the book as a labor of love for the kids who are currently languishing and for the people who are interested in becoming foster care parents or adopting from the system. A lot of the parents I (was placed with) came from a good place but didn’t really understand what they were getting into.”

Medeiros said Livermore and the Livermore Independent have a special place in his heart. A former delivery boy for The Independent, Medeiros used to drop copies of the paper at his neighbors’ doors. Later, in a 2009 letter to the editor, Medeiros put his gratitude to the community into words.

“Thank you for showing a very troubled, very scared and very lonely boy that he mattered,” wrote Medeiros. “Thank you for making me one of you and helping me to believe in myself. Livermore and the kids of East Avenue Middle School is where my life truly began, and I will carry all of you with me for the rest of my life.”

The idea for “Broken Boy” was born of a longtime internal desire to help others and tell his story, but a conversation with famous author and poet Maya Angelou fueled the flames and Medeiros began writing. The story came out slowly. Some parts were difficult to put into words, and the project was sometimes superseded by other parts of Medeiros’s life. Eventually, everything was on paper, and he found a publicist to help him through the editing stages. One person who helped him as a beta reader was his biological cousin on his mother’s side, Stacy Atkins-Salazar. The two connected when Medeiros reached out in his 20s and now have a close relationship.

“Gino gives a detailed and factual account of an extremely difficult childhood, while at the same time holding back a bit on his emotional reactions to it,” said Atkins-Salazar. “This allows the reader to discover their own emotional connection to his story. ‘Broken Boy’ is well written, engaging, heart wrenching, funny and eye opening. It is a short and easy read that is filled with unimaginable stories and life lessons.”

Those who have lived in Livermore since Medeiros’s time may remember a scandal centered around his one-time foster family, the Mircis. Anne and Joe Mirci were well-known educators in Livermore, and became even more well-known when Anne Mirci shot her husband Joe’s mistress. The event took place at the beginning of Medeiros’s freshman year at Granada High School, an already difficult year because his friends from East Avenue Middle School all went to Livermore High School. Anne Mirci had decided Medeiros should go to Granada, a decision he is now thankful for. As tensions escalated after the shooting, Medeiros felt only love and support from the community.

“It was like the community of Livermore circled the wagons and said, ‘You’re not getting this one; this one’s ours,’” Medeiros said. “It was surreal that so many people knew me and cared about me.”

By the end of high school, Medeiros had left the Mirci household and was living with Judith Welsh, the woman he came to consider his mother. Welsh adopted him 30 years later when Medeiros was 50, and he dedicated “Broken Boy” to her.

One of Medeiros’s former social workers, Kathee Shatter, said the title of the book is apt.

“He was faced with a lot of challenges, and he reacted to them in his own personality – as anyone would – but he kept fighting for himself and trying, even given the challenges in life,” said Shatter.

Once she was no longer his social worker, Shatter did not stay in touch with Medeiros, but the two did connect later in life. Shatter said she helped her former charge understand some of the decisions made on his behalf while he was in foster care.

“It is complex, and you have to work hard and sometimes you have (a) ‘devil and the deep blue sea’ decision. Neither is great, but you have to choose,” said Shatter.

As he prepares for publication of his book, Medeiros is researching his options for going through a publisher and putting the book out on his own. He said in telling his story, he held nothing back, and hopes his honesty about the abuse he suffered and how he overcame it is helpful to his target audience.

“These kids need to know that it is not your shame,” he said. “Give it back to the person who created it. That takes a lot of work. I talk about everything from being molested by my maternal grandfather to being beaten by Anne, because nothing is off limits, because it’s not my shame. I didn’t do it; I was the victim.”

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