The draft was never issued in final form.
Abandoned at 10
Miguel Angel Padilla Jr. was born in February 1991 at a Sylmar hospital and later moved with his family to Mexico, where he had two accidents that would shape his life.
When he was about 9, he touched a metal rod to a power line while playing on an apartment building rooftop. He was seriously burned and lost his right arm below the elbow. He later lost the sight in his left eye when a firecracker shattered a pop bottle in his face.
At age 10, he lost his mother, who took his three siblings to Texas and started a new life without him, according to interviews and child welfare records obtained through a court petition.
"Minor's mother left him when he was little and has never made any attempt to visit or call," a social worker's report noted in August 2004.
Shortly after Miguel's mother left, the boy and his father, Miguel Padilla Sr., moved back to Southern California, to the Santa Clarita Valley community of Newhall.
The father worked odd jobs and spent much of his time in Mexico. The boy was raised mainly by his elderly paternal great-grandmother, Maria Arriaga Hernandez, who by all accounts, including her own, was ill-equipped to care for him.
"She had no real control," said Rentz, a minister who was close to the family, "but she provided the best she could."
The family first came to the attention of the children's services department in April 2003, when social workers substantiated allegations that Miguel's father had neglected the 12-year-old's medical, dental and emotional needs.
Their report cited the father's "lack of cooperation," poverty and limited job skills. Records also noted Miguel's suicidal tendencies, which his father attributed to ridicule from other children about his disability.
"Miguel sometimes seems to have a hard time processing information," a follow-up report stated, adding that he used poor judgment and seemed depressed.
Records show that Arriaga, then in her late 80s, went to Mexico with his father for long stretches, leaving the boy with friends or relatives.
Although social workers visited regularly and drafted a mandatory action plan, even its clearest goals -- to get Miguel to school regularly and to get him a prosthetic arm -- were never achieved, documents show.
Arriaga told social workers repeatedly that she had trouble comprehending what they said, even though they spoke Spanish. On the signature line of the parenting plan, she scratched an X.
Even so, there is no evidence that the children's services department tried to remove the boy and find him a more stable environment.
When a reporter visited Arriaga recently at her apartment in Newhall, she referred questions to Miguel Sr., 45.
In an interview, he acknowledged that he lives much of the time in Mexico, where he has two other children. He was unable to drive Miguel to his appointments, he said, because he'd lost his license and was jailed for driving under the influence.