Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Verdict's In

After seven weeks, the William's trial is over and the verdict is in:

Larry Williams:
  • No verdict on Homicide by abuse (jury unable to agree)
  • Guilty of Manslaughter in the 1st degree
  • Guilty of Assault of a Child in the 1st degree
Carri Williams:
  • Guilty of Homicide by Abuse
  • Guilty of Manslaughter in the 1st degree
  • Guilty of Assault of a Child in the 1st degree
     It's a sad thing because no one wins. Hana is still dead, Immanuel is still in therapy to deal with his issues. The birth children will never again live with their parents. I've heard they are all living with relatives. (Hopefully ones who will help them through this).

     It's also sad that to the end Carri insisted that Hana killed herself by refusing to come inside out of the cold. She said they couldn't get her inside. That is bologna. She weighed 78 pounds at the time of death, and they could have went out and carried her in. She may have been oppositional by then, sure. Who knows what hypothermia will do. 

No child should be left outside in a cold rain for 9 hours. No child should be sent outside in cold rain for punishment at all. No child should have food with held for two days. Withholding food isn't an appropriate punishment for anyone. What good does any of that do? Children need the security of knowing there will be food for them at each meal. 

But even with all this, I don't think Carri is a total monster like a lot of people are making her out to be. There's a blog page dedicated to Hana that's filled with messages that basically say she's a monster and worse. I don't think she adopted two children with the intent of abusing them and killing one. Foreign adoptions are very expensive, so she must have felt led to adopt. The problem is that she wasn't prepared for the issues that come with adoption, foreign adoption and older child adoption. I wasn't either and I made a lot of mistakes when trying to squash the issues. She did too. But she got carried away and became vindictive. And with the total isolation the children faced, no one knew. No one intervened. 

Unfortunately it got to the  point where Carri no longer cared about Hana's welfare. She saw her fall to the ground repeatedly that night. She saw her bang her head on the cement. Yet she did nothing. It was midnight when Hana finally died. That means most of the time she was out there was spent in the dark. There was total disregard for Hana's life (which is why it is homicide by abuse).

Still, hate is wrong. I know people are going to push for adoption reforms based on this case. I hope that doesn't backfire and soon no one can adopt without being scrutinized and hounded once the children come home. I do think it would be helpful to have more resources available for parents though. And help for parents who are struggling with their children's issues. But it's not an agency's fault when an adoption goes bad unless they lied about the problems the children had. And everyone says things were going really well with Hana her first year home. An agency would probably see that and no longer follow up.

When we adopted Jeff and later the twins, there was no agency involved. We did all the paperwork and submitted it. With Jeff, when things started getting difficult, there were no counselors within hours of us trained in adoption issues. There were no support groups. Facebook didn't exists and all the online support groups didn't exist. We ended up sending him to a home for troubled youth. I would have rather had someone who could have worked with our family in keeping him here while keeping the girls safe and Jeff himself safe. But there wasn't. There are still very few resources here. 

I'm glad the trial is over and justice is done. Most of us will soon forget, but for the William's family, it is far from over. The parents will go to prison. They are being held on 1.5 million and 750,000 bail. Sentencing isn't until October. (Is it usually that far off?) The children will forever have the images of Hana in their mind. They will forever remember this. Their parents won't be at their graduations or weddings. They won't be there when their children are born. 

If you are struggling in your parenting, talk to someone. Yes, it is hard to find someone who understands the manipulations, deceit, stealing and lying since they may only see your child when he's being charming. They may not see through the charm. They may think the problem is you. Keep looking. Join an online support group. Ask around because they exist. Connect with other adoptive parents online at least so you have someone to vent to. Someone who will help keep you sane. If you can't find someone to talk to, leave a message here because many of my readers have gone through these things. Many still are. Don't isolate yourself, and if you are homeschooling but they need more than you can give, send them to public school at least for a year so they can get evaluated and get services. It will give you a break too.

All kids deserve to be loved. Even when they are not acting lovable.


:)De said...

I too adopted back before support from bloggers, Facebook and other adoptive parents who knew what we were going through. I wish I had e-friends like I do now. It would have made a world of difference. If you are struggling now or you feel alone...let someone know. Reach out to us and we will support you. I know it is a well used cliche' but...YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!

Emily said...

Though my adopted kiddos don't have the degree of difficulties that you have faced, I know how wearing it is to deal with the hard stuff. If you don't have a good support network around you, I don't know how it is possible to keep on going. I am blessed to have immensely strong supports in our friends, doctors, therapists, and school. People are always there for me, ready to encourage me, and many of them have taken great pains to understand the things the girls deal with.
My heart breaks over and over for the Williams family. I ache for poor Hana and Immanuel. I ache for the kids who had to watch it, but probably felt helpless to do anything. I ache for the parents because I'm sure they never saw themselves becoming the people they became. I ache for the last family and for what could have been. I'm glad some sort of justice was served, but it doesn't make me less sad.

One Crowded House said...

I agree- if it weren't for social media- I would have felt very alone going through our adoption struggles- and like perhaps we were the only ones having those kinds of struggles- which would have made things worse for all of us. The homestudy/postplacement agencies, really don't do a good job of preparing or giving ideas for building a support network in our communities- and the adoption agencies (in our case were separate from our homestudy agency)
had us read a few pages and watch a video. We did have to answer questions... but seriously, until you are in the midst of the trials, you don't know how or what to expect.

I completely agree- if you and your family are struggling- reach out.

Kathy C. said...

Thank you for your comments. I hope anyone reading them who is struggling will reach out to someone.

Lanester said...

I’m hoping the readers here will have some ideas about improving adoption home study practice, based on what we have learned from the deaths of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz and injuries to their siblings.
So you know where I’m coming from. I’m an adoptive parent of now adult daughters, one adopted as an infant from a local nonprofit agency, the other as a toddler through state foster care. I’ve been active in pre-adoptive education and post-adoption support and have had plenty of occasion to reflect on issues that arise in transracial, special needs, and international and open adoptions. I have long been concerned about adoption agencies that place especially needy and difficult children with na├»ve, unprepared (and maybe overconfident) families and then fail to follow up with oversight and support.
I followed the Williams trial especially closely because the family lives in my area and because I know people who have worked for, and adopted from, the agency that placed Hana and her brother Immanuel. Reading about the trial has brought me into several thoughtful blogs and websites run by people who, unlike me, are current or former conservative Christians and who are, like me, appalled at the parenting attitudes and discipline techniques that led to these deaths.
As a secular person and a retired public school teacher, it could be easy for me to simply vilify conservative Christian homeschoolers with large families, but I do know better. I know skilled, successful, gentle adoptive parents who fit all those categories. I also homeschooled for a time myself when that was what my daughter needed.
Here are my assumptions:
Carri and Larry Williams did not set out to be abusive and finally lethal parents; they walked down this road a step at a time.
There had to be red flags in the Williams adoption that a better home study would have revealed.
The flaw was not simply in the particular caseworker but in the whole home study process.
Parenting, and especially adoptive parenting, and even more especially adoptive parenting of children with special needs, demands flexibility. What works with one child may not work with another; what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. We have to be able to adapt and we have to be willing to seek help from people with different perspectives.
Children placed in homeschooling families belonging to small, tightly knit communities are particularly vulnerable if the situation becomes abusive, because they live outside the purview of outsiders who can get to know them away from their parents and sound the alarm. When I taught high school, students often confided in me about difficult home situations. Very occasionally, as a mandated reporter, I had to contact CPS. Much more often I could simply be a listening ear as they sorted out their feelings and their options. Hana and her brother, and the Williams’s biological children, had no one in that role—no teacher, no youth pastor, no 4-H leader, no parents of peers. This was not an accident of geography; it’s the way their parents chose to raise them.
So here, finally, is my question:
If you were the caseworker charged with saying yes or no to an adoption application, what would you ask?
What kind of questions or discussions in a home study could identify families who are too inflexible, too wedded to their own perspective, and too isolated from meaningful feedback to be trusted with a child, particularly a child who is likely to be traumatized and challenging? This isn’t about weeding out religious people; it’s about dangerous perspectives on parenting.
I would so appreciate ideas on this topic. Following this trial has been harrowing. Reading comments that stop at calling the Williamses monsters and the agencies venal and the caseworkers idiots doesn’t give me much hope that we can reform adoption practice to prevent future tragedies. I would love to see some constructive suggestions.
Feel free to cross post this to other forums that might yield insights.
Many thanks,

Kathy C. said...

I'm not sure that the things that happened would have shown up in a homestudy. They probably never pictured it. They would have said all the right things most likely.

I think there needs to be more education and more follow up. We knew nothing when we adopted Jeff and Ada. It was not until we took foster parenting classes that we learned about attachment, grief and loss and such.

We had one follow up on Adam and that was right before the six month mark when the adoption would go to court. Immediately after that we moved from SD to England so even if more follow up was required, there would have been no one to do it.

I think there needs to be accountability in adoption but I'm not sure who would take care of that if there wasn't an adoption agency. But at a minimum I would ask for a physical for the first three years at least. Perhaps a copy of the report cards if the child is in school, but I don't know what if they are home schooled.

Really, the same should be true for birth children. Some parents do these things to birth children or we wouldn't have so many kids in foster care.

But any family that isolates themselves by home schooling and denying their children activities that bring them into contact with other children and families. Some states require home school parents to be part of a co op or some sort of group and I think that's a great thing.

I'm not against home schooling but I think it needs to be a high quality eduation and in the best interest of the child. For Immanuel and Hana it was not.

I've commented on most of this in my past posts about this case.






One Crowded House said...

kathy- I like the doctor physical idea for at least 3 years after placement- and the agencies be in charge of verifying they are legit.

Also- perhaps post placement visits could go on for longer than is required- with it being known ahead of time that the children will be interviewed- WITHOUT the adoptive parents in the room- and yes- the parents could tell the children what to say, but a trained social worker should be able to tell if a child is lying or uncomfortable about any questions that are being asked so they can investigate more.

I know they can get expensive, but if it is all known ahead of time that it will be required, then it should be ok.

Also, this could be used to see if the parents are getting proper services for their children (or themselves!)