Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No One Asked Me

I'm sure everyone has already heard about this STORY.

A thirteen year old girl, Hana, adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 died from abuse and neglect. The parents say the girl was rebellious and had to be punished. But rebellion included standing a few inches from where she was told to stand or getting the answer to a math problem wrong.

I read the whole 16 page report filed and it was ugly reading. The parents had very strict punishments that included Hana eating alone outside no matter the weather. She was often given frozen vegetables as her meal. She had to use an outside port potty and was often showered with an outside hose year round (she lived in WA state and it gets cold!). She was put outside hours at a time in the cold as a punishment. She basically lived in a dark closet. One of the biological children said in an interview that she was taken out every other day to walk around and exercise. She hadn't participated in family meals or home schooling for over a year because she was living in the closet. She had gone up to two days at a time without eating. She was not allowed to celebrate her birthday or Christmas because she didn't deserve to. She stood outside in the cold on Christmas day watching through the window. Excuse me, but wasn't Christmas about Jesus coming to give us abundant life through his own life, death and resurrection?

There was such a long list of inhumane punishments that I can't remember them all but you can find the 16 page report on line. But she finally died because she was out several hours in cold rain without adequate clothing. She was so thin she didn't survive it.

I have seen people comment that the girl probably had reactive attachment disorder and a very difficult child. There is nothing to indicate that. Her crimes were not knowing how to shower correctly or moving off a certain spot.

Even if she was difficult, she deserved food, clothing, shelter from the cold and somewhere appropriate to sleep. The price for a warm shower or meal was 30 days of good behavior--by the parent's standard of good. And if she had attachment disorders--and who could blame her--locking her in the closet days on end is not a good attachment tool!

Many of us have dealt with difficult children, children who acted very unlovable at times and downright hateful at others. But you still act in the best interest of the child. You feed them because that's what they need. You give them a safe place to sleep because that's what they need. You give them clothes that are adequate even if they aren't the latest name brand.

I think one reason this family got away with the abuse is because they were so self contained. They were home schooled and often home churched. The girl (and also the boy adopted with her) were seldom seen. That allowed the torture of this girl to go mostly undetected. I am not against homeschooling, but I am when it's used to control the children.

If this family were struggling and just unsuccessfully trying different approaches, I would understand. We don't all discipline the same. I had a child who would tell people that we starved him and locked him in a closet. He would say whatever would get him sympathy and get people to buy him things. He was a pro at manipulating people. But he was gone to public school eight hours a day and there was never a mark on his body or a time when he didn't have adequate clothing. At times he would intentionally destroy his clothing and tell people he didn't have any. He would eat his lunch on the bus and say I wouldn't pack him a lunch. His closet was such a mess there would have been no way for him to be in the closet besides which, our closets don't have locks.

Yes, there were times he was given extra chores. And push ups and spankings (we rarely use this anymore). He missed out on some fun times. There were a few times when he had sandwiches instead of a hot meal, but those were a result of him refusing to do something he was supposed to do and there was a chance for him to correct the situation and join us should he choose to. And he was given two sandwiches, a vegetable and a fruit.

So in a way this case catches my attention because it's what a child accused us of, and what a few people probably wondered if we were guilty of, but with social workers in and out constantly to check on foster children and all the children in the public school, it was obvious these things couldn't be going on. My child ran races. He played soccer. He went to church. He went to school. He went to camp.

And the case catches my attention because I can't believe that parents could be so abusive. They hated the girl. The mother complained to a few friends that the girl was wrecking her life. She had wanted a very young child. Then why did she accept the referral of an older girl and boy? And if she hated the girl so much, why not call the agency to find the girl another home? There are plenty of adoptive families who have readopted a child whose first adoptive home didn't work out. Yeah, I think it would be hard to adopt a preteen from another country. She is used to her own culture, language and food and is probably pretty set in her ways. It would take a real nurturing spirit to teach her new ways while not taking her own culture from her. But it can be done and I know of parents who are dealing with teen children from Haiti and from China. It's certainly hard at times, but they are making it one day at a time.

I know I'm venting. I have five adopted children. It's not always easy, but it's what we're called to do. And most of the time we love it. Our adopted children are doing great right now. At least, no differently than our bio children. I'm venting because a child who was brought to the states for a better life is dead. A child who may or may not have longed for a family to love her received only harshness and pain.

No one asked me, but you got my opinion anyway. Feel free to post your comments whether you agree with me or not. But be nice.


kayder1996 said...

Probably 6 weeks ago there was a story in the news cycle that was similar. Except maybe different. It was about two internationally adopted sisters who were abused. The story line actually focused on a Christian book that the parents read which followed the "all disobedience should result in punishment ie spanking" thought. The one girl was spanked for 8 hours straight and died. The other lived but was in very poor condition. My guess is that they were also dealing with attachment issues which made the situation difficult. But wow! It was so sad and literally turned my stomach.

Felicia said...

We have experienced a very difficult international, older child adoption. However, at no time did those difficulties give us just cause to resort to abuse of our child. Whether this child had attachment issues or not really didn't matter. The end result was that they did not deal with the childs issues appropriately and they caused the death of their child. I wonder if they knew of other options or if they seeked any help at any time.

Christine said...

I read about this little girl. I was so saddened to know that she went through such pain and suffering. There were son many alternatives this family could have chosen. Sad.

Sarah said...

I live in the Seattle area (where this happened) and it has been in the news constantly. It is incredibly sad, and as Christine said there are so many alternatives this family could have chosen. I have only heard positive things about the girl, and none even remotelly hinting at it being the girls fault for this type of crime. It is just sad that she suffered, and it is also sad that the parents felt they had no other options.

One Crowded House said...

Yes! Adopting a preteen girl from another country is difficult (I know this from experience.)

But it has also given me incredible opportunities for growth, and for giving God the chance to "stretch" me in ways that I didn't think I could budge.

That family wanted children that would fit into their idea of what perfect children were- and they did not get that (there is no way they would ever get that out of an adopted child... and they had broken the spirits of their bio children enough that they complied with their sick ways of parenting).

I read the whole report as well Kathy (earlier in the week). I cried and cried. We have dealt with all of the same issues that those parents dealt with with our 3 internationally adopted kids (including the disease part). I can't imagine degrading our kids like that and making them feel like scum. Breaking their spirits, breaking their bodies, and taking away hope. So very sad.

Bill and Christina said...

So very sad. I can't imagine.

Renee said...

Yes, I agree. This story is so awful. I am just heartbroken of all that went on. I too read the whole report. It was beyond cruel and abusive.

Hana was from the same orphanage as one of our sons. I just can't imagine why this family did not pick up the phone and call for help. It is available.

There has been much talk about RAD. I think it was the mother who had an attachment disorder. How can you treat your children this way?

I think the food issues are what cut me to the core. Food was such an integral part of the security and bonding process for our children. We had one who would panic at hunger pangs and another who would eat until sick. I can't imagine what not feeding them would have done to them emotionally. How awful for these children to be starved. UGH. I seriously have no words.

Yes, parenting older children through adoption can be hard. We can testify, but it doesn't ever need to come anywhere near to tragedy as this did.

waitingarms said...

I don't think the family was totally isolated by homeschooling - over the three years the mom was telling others how she was treating the adoptive children and people visited the home and saw the abuse. They just chose to remain silent - even other adoptive parents who knew of the abuse never thought to contact child protective services. To me, everyone who stayed silent is partlyresponsible for Hana's death. I worry for their adoptive children because they witnessed the abuse but were not repulsed enough to report it. Do they all hold the same views?