Hana Williams Trial Verdict: Guilty

Yesterday, Larry and Carri Williams were found guilty of manslaughter in the 2011 death of their daughter, Hana. Larry was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and Carri was found guilty of both manslaughter and homicide by abuse. Janet Heimlich sums up Hana’s story as follows:

I first learned about the case when Larry and Carri Williams were arrested in September of 2011. I happened to be in Seattle, about an hour away from the couple’s gated-community suburb of Sedro-Woolley, where I was giving talks about religious child maltreatment. The details of the case were startling: Hana, estimated to be fourteen years of age, died in the backyard of the family’s home. She was grossly underweight and had been left outside on a very cold night for hours. Eight children had been removed by Child Protective Services. Their parents were charged with murder. A local TV station interviewed me about the case.

After reading the news reports and affidavits of witnesses, I began picking up on some familiar-sounding details: Larry and Carri Williams expected complete obedience of their children, especially Hana and Immanuel; the parents, who were devout Christians, played audio recordings of Bible verses when they locked Hana in a dark closet for many hours; and investigators found in the home To Train Up a Child.

I know that book well. It is a parenting guide written by Tennessee-based preacher Michael Pearl who operates a website called No Greater JoyTo Train Up a Child has been harshly criticized for its reliance on physical punishment of children. I had written about Pearl in my book, Breaking Their Will; later, I would appear with him in a video debate on a Christian website and blog about him.

Hana was not the first child to die in a home run by followers of Michael Pearl. Both 4-year-old Sean Paddock and 7-year-old Lydia Schatz had been killed by adoptive parents who had had a copy of To Train Up a Child in their homes and had used similar techniques advocated by Pearl. Those techniques included being whipped with 1/4-inch-wide plumbing line, a form of torture that both Hana and Immanuel Williams also suffered.

larry williamsBased on court testimony, which included statements made by Immanuel, Carri and Larry Williams were obsessed with child obedience. When investigators interviewed their biological children, they noted that they appeared to be strangely cheery and were often looking at their parents, as if to be sure they answered questions the way their parents wanted them to. All children risked punishment if they disobeyed their parents’ orders. If Hana or Immanuel were perceived to be rebellious, they were beaten and made to sleep in a shower room. Hana was made to sleep in a locked closet with a light switch on the outside. Sometimes, she was made to sleep in a barn, even in cold temperatures. She and her brother were denied food or fed food that was inedible, such as wet sandwiches or frozen food. Sometimes, the emaciated Hana was punished for stealing food.

carri williamsLarry and Carri Williams claimed they were innocent due to ignorance. They testified that they didn’t know that their adoptive daughter had dropped thirty pounds. Each said that the other was responsible for disciplining the children. Carri Williams called Hana “oppositional,” that she was repeatedly disobedient and out of control. Larry, who was not at home the evening that Hana died, said that he had objected to beating the children because he could see that it didn’t change Hana’s behavior. At one point, he admitted to hitting his adopted son on the bottom of his feet at Carri’s urging. “I couldn’t do it again,” said Larry. “Just the one time, because I didn’t think it was appropriate.”

In the end, both parents were found guilty of manslaughter and child abuse. In addition, Carri was found guilty of the more serious crime of homicide by abuse. The judge will decide the sentencing. Both the Williams’s could be sentenced to life in prison.

For what I’ve written about the Hana Williams case in the past, see here and here.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Niemand

    I wonder if Immanuel could win a civil suit against the Pearls for encouraging his adoptive parents to torture him and his sister?

    • Ahab

      Proving liability could be difficult, but I’d be delighted to see such a suit

      • Niemand

        Even just having the suit filed is likely to scare the pants off the Pearls who are basically, like all bullies, cowards.

    • Layla13

      It would be awesome if Immanuel sued that child-hating psychopath Michael Pearl into oblivion.

    • Trollface McGee

      Would be an interesting case. They would have to show that the Pearls should have reasonably known that their writings were of a nature that would reasonably lead to harm. Given that they advocate beating children, breaking their will.. things that would lead to many years in prison if inflicted on an adult, I don’t think that it is too high of a burden to prove.
      The other factor is causality, whether if not for the Pearls’ books, the parents would have still committed abuse. That, I think is a harder issue because abuse is sadly not uncommon, and there are many other “pro-family” pastors and writers that advocate the same thing as the Pearls basically. Still, would love to see something like that go forward.

      • TLC

        It would be worth it just to see the Pearls exposed so everyone can see just how insane they are. And to see who would step up to defend them. Would these hotshot preachers back up the Pearls if the glare of the international media were focused on them?

  • ako

    That’s a relief. Hopefully, whatever sentence they get, it’ll be enough that they don’t get to have power over vulnerable children ever again. And hopefully, the publicity will make some people who are tempted to cast everything about a child in terms of obedience and rebellion think twice about the philosophy.

  • http://noadi.etsy.com/ Sheryl Westleigh

    “At one point, he admitted to hitting his adopted son on the bottom of his feet”
    Seriously? That was a torture practice by the Inquisition.

  • Ahab

    GOOD. I’m glad these monsters were held accountable.

    • onamission5

      Their actions were monstrous, absolutely, but it is important to remember that they are people. People did this. Monsters did not do this, monsters did not torture their children and murder their teenaged daughter, that was people. They could be my neighbors. They could be any family at the library, in the grocery store. People. People with upstanding reputations in their community, people who gave to charity, people who thought they were doing the right thing, even though they really, really weren’t. Not boogey men, not bridge trolls, not demons or devils, but ordinary human beings displaying an unfortunately all too ordinary and human cruelty.

      • Nancy Shrew

        To be honest, I don’t think “human” and “monster” are mutually exclusive. After all, who created the concept of a monster?

      • Christine

        It’s still useful to not have a subclass of “monsters” who are the only people who do monstrous things. It’s a lot harder to believe that your neighbour is a monster than to merely believe that they can do something wrong. “But ze’s such a polite person” isn’t a good defense, but we instinctively think that it is. (See also: I’m not a racist, therefore what I’m saying isn’t racist.)

      • Nancy Shrew

        Sorry, I don’t really understand what you mean.

      • Shayna

        When we call people who do things like this “monsters,” we don’t look for the “people” who could be doing something similar right under our noses.

        For a similar argument, look at acquaintance/date rape. The rapist’s friends or family will say “He’s my friend, he’s nice to me, he’s not a monster, he couldn’t do something like this.”

      • Nancy Shrew

        I agree that using “monster” that way is problematic. What I was trying to say is that I believe that anyone has the capacity to be a (figurative, of course) “monster”.

      • onamission5

        I can give you a couple examples–
        [relative] can’t be a child molester, I’ve known him all his life and he’s no monster!

        I can’t believe [neighbor] was a serial killer. He seemed so normal and quiet.

        There’s no way [respected business person] beats his wife. He’s so charming and successful! (person has admirable characteristics, aka not a monster = person is infallible)

        We have the tendency to see “normalcy” as good, and dehumanize anyone who does wrong as a monster. Normal people can’t do horrible things, because I am normal and I don’t do horrible things, I am not a monster, only monsters do horrible things. This has the added side effect of deflecting blame for horrible things onto vulnerable populations like the mentally ill and disabled, the poor, so forth, and allowing us to overlook all the signs and symptoms of horrible behavior that come from “normal” seeming people because only monsters do X and [person] is no monster. Dehumanize criminals and everyone who doesn’t fit your subconscious, preconceived notions of normalcy becomes suspect, which adds to already vast levels of discrimination *and* provides cover for “normal” people who are doing wrong.

        See also: allistic people who identify and empathize with allistic parents (“normal”) who kill or try to kill their autistic (“not normal”) kids, while displaying little empathy or understanding for what it is like to be an autistic in a world that cannot understand you, fears you, and wants to cure you of yourself.

        See also: every time there’s a shooting, the conversation turns to how mentally ill people are so dangerous, never mind that people with mental illness are significantly more likely to be victims of violence than they are to be perpetrators.

        It’s this form of othering that I’m arguing against. It does so much harm, in so many ways, and contributes no good.

      • Nancy Shrew

        Oh, man. You have no idea how hard I roll my eyes whenever the “But he was so nice” train rolls along. Trust me, I didn’t mean to suggest that using “monster” to hand-wave away people as some sort of non-people is a great idea.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Excuse me, but I feel that “monster” describes these two perfectly. Yeah, they were human, they still are, but they chose, by their actions, to become monsters.

      • Alix

        …I have to side with onamission5 here. I mean, yeah, I get that “monster” works to describe these folks. It’s still really distancing language that serves to Other them right out of the human race.

        I’ve met faaaar too many people who fall into the “but e couldn’t have done [x], e’s not a monster!” trap – and no, we’re not talking stupid people, authoritarians, or any other specific subgroup of people – all kinds of people do this. I’ve also met people who, because they aren’t themselves monsters, think that nothing they do can be monstrous. (Or, at least, who pat themselves on the back because they could never be that kind of monster, as if there’s something strange about these people, something not shared by humanity, that made them thus.)

        I’ve met even more people who decide that if these others are monsters, then they can do anything they like to combat the monsters. Of all the various groups of people, these scare me the worst.

        I’m fine with calling people’s actions and attitudes monstrous. But dehumanizing language, calling them monsters … worries me.

  • eamonknight

    Interestingly, the BBC coverage doesn’t even mention the authoritarian-religion angle: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24035136, and neither does the local coverage linked therefrom.

    C’mon media: don’t bury the enabling factor.

    Also: “the Williamses were bad parents, even abusive parents, but not criminals”. OK, I realize a defense lawyer’s job is to admit nothing and deny everything, but SRSLY? If nothing else, deprivation to the point of serious weight loss is criminal neglect.

    • Ahab

      Um, does the defense lawyer understand that abuse IS criminal? Child abuse and neglect ARE illegal. Ugh.

    • Trollface McGee

      It would be a breach of the defence attorney’s ethical obligation to the client for them to do anything to compromise their client’s case. And yes, sometimes your client did something absolutely horrible, indefensible and they still retain the constitutional right to a defence.
      It’s the news media and journalists’ job to report things accurately. Unfortunately it’s not one they take seriously.

  • onamission5

    Carrie Williams called Hana “oppositional,” that she was repeatedly disobedient and out of control.

    I’d be oppositional, disobedient, and out of control, too, if I was being starved and beaten by people who’d promised me a better life but instead treated me like their slave.

    • Hilary

      I think it’s been a running commentary that reciprical empathy is not the strong suit of people in black and white fundamentalist thinking. But yeah, about 100 more upvotes for this comment.

      • onamission5

        Playing the game of “what does this mean in the real world” which is something I used to do as a kid when my own parents called me things like rebellious, obstinate, domineering (aka independent, resolute, assertive)… re: the labeling of Hana as oppositinal and so forth…

        It’s called feeling betrayed, confused, terrified, and angry. It’s also likely called trying to protect your little brother. Or maybe– and anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship will probably know what I mean by this– it’s called trying to get it the fuck over with because you know what’s coming.

  • Mitch

    Well done. No amount of legal procedure will bring that child back to life, but at least the rest of their kids will be away from those two.

  • Angela

    I’m so thankful that Hana will get justice although prison pales in comparison to what they put Hana through. The thing that really gets me is the total lack of remorse and shifting of responsibility both parents have shown. The Schatz parents at least seemed deeply remorseful by what they had done and made a plea agreement so that their children would be spared having to testify against them. I’m not defending what they did by any means but the Williams hardly seem concerned that a child was killed at their hands. They seem to consider her death as an act of rebellion even.

  • TLC

    How interesting that they turned on each other and pointed the finger at each other. So much for all that submission and obedience!

    If he’s the head of the household and they’re all supposed to submit to him, and he didn’t agree with the beatings, then why didn’t HE stop this? And why did she continue? What a bunch of crap.

    I am glad Hannah is at peace. I hope these two get their just desserts when the get into the general prison population.

    • Niemand

      I notice that Larry committed the sin of Adam: blaming another person for his misdeeds. (Not that “misdeed” is really the right word for what Larry did or what Adam is supposed to have done: eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is no bad thing, whereas abusing your kid goes far beyond a “misdeed”.)

  • Gillianren

    How can you not know a child in your care has lost thirty pounds?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      You don’t look. If you choose not to see, it didn’t happen, right? /sarcasm

      Truly, I have no idea. My mom always knew when we’d lost any weight at all, and it was a huge concern because we were all very slight. I lost 5 lbs. once while sick in college and it was a huge deal.

      • Divizna

        I envy you. When I lost several kilos (didn’t weigh myself but I noticed my clothes getting very loose) because of total loss of appetite due to depression (I was forcefeeding myself… about as much food in a day I normally consider breakfast), I got praised. Because getting from slim to skeleton in a month is obviously everyone’s goal. I hated everyone who mentioned it… always congratulating, never worried… which meant almost everyone I know, including my closest family. It really hurt, depressed as I already was and all. Only two people didn’t say anything… my boyfriend, who is a severely clueless Asperger – and my best friend, who is even supernaturally emphatic. Funny combination, that.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        That sucks a lot. It sounds like you’re doing better now, which is good, but that must have really hurt that people were praising something you didn’t want to happen and knew wasn’t healthy, and were missing how much pain you were in.

      • Divizna

        Thanks. Yes, it was a while ago.

        One thing that hurt was that many of them, the family for instance, knew what was going on with me – and still acted that way. “Yes, yes, you’re depressed, but you’ve lost weight, you should be glad about that.” What?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I agree, what? Especially because depression and eating disorders go together so often (not saying you had an eating disorder, you clearly didn’t), I’d be terrified for a friend who was depressed and losing weight quickly.

      • Kamil Kukowski

        I don’t know if it’s appropriate, but here’s a high-five for pulling through

      • Divizna

        Oops. “…supernaturally empathetic”, of course.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        *blink* I didn’t even notice the typo. I just read it as empathetic automatically.

      • tsara

        Hugs if you want ‘em. Depression plus food issues plus unsympathetic everyone around you is an incredibly shitty combination of incredibly shitty things.

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        I felt much the same way when everyone kept complimenting my mom’s weight loss while she was undergoing chemo.

        I got so sarcastic about it, I kept telling people who said it that THEY should go on the cancer diet, I’m sure it’ll do wonders for THEM too.

    • Lyric

      By not caring. Simple.

      • Gillianren

        Sure, sure (to both Lyric and Feminerd), but what would make you think the jury would see that as mitigating?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        No clue. That requires a weird blend of callousness and naivete, I think.

      • Lyric

        They shouldn’t and wouldn’t. I guess I didn’t understand the question properly; I was pointing out how it was possible, not saying there was an excuse for it.

      • Nancy Shrew

        Pretty much. It would be one thing if Hana had an eating disorder. People with eating disorders tend to go to great lengths to disguise their weight loss, but obviously that wasn’t the case here.

      • whatcom mom

        Carri Williams put it down to modesty, that family members don’t go around looking at each other’s naked bodies.

    • M.S.

      You believe what you want to believe. You see what you want to see. Sad.

      • Stev84

        Or they could simply be lying about that.

      • M.S.

        or that…even sadder…

      • Mary C

        Yep, pretty darn sure they were lying. They lied the whole time. There is no way they didn’t notice. Cause what else are they going to say? “Yeah, we noticed, but just figured she had a tape worm?” or “Yes, we knew it and hoped that it would finally make her come around and be obedient?”

    • brbr2424

      I think the modesty issue came in to play. Clothes should cover up skin and hide the contours of the body. When someone is wearing baggie clothes 5 sizes too big, nobody knows what is going on underneath. Girls have given birth in their bedrooms and hidden 9 months of pregnancy with baggie clothes.

    • tsara

      :/
      It took my parents quite a while to notice that I was losing weight. If you see someone every day, it doesn’t always compute.
      …but then, I was almost eighteen when I started, and I was carrying a lot of my weight as muscle.

    • gimpi1

      Apparently the parental obsession with modesty required long, loose, enveloping clothes. They claimed in “modest” clothing, the weight-loss wasn’t noticeable.

      • Gillianren

        Thirty-five pounds would require new clothing or a lot of safety pins, though.

      • gimpi1

        I would think so, but that was the mother’s defense. Think Burka, I guess.

      • Gillianren

        Without underwear, apparently.

  • M.S.

    What snaps and drives these parents from “disciplining” to “murdering”? How are they unable to draw the line? Is it impossible to draw a line when using any sort of physical discipline? I myself am opposed to physical discipline, but seriously, can it be done in a controlled manner, or is this the inevitable outcome?

    • onamission5

      In my experience, the controlled, cold and calculated form of physical punishment was almost worse, because it was not coming from people who were too angry to control themselves (flimsy excuse that that is) but from people who were perfectly capable of choosing to treat me rationally and empathetically, who were perfectly capable of thinking the problem through and taking a different, less harmful strategy, but decided not to anyway.

      And the cuddling and coddling/talking to me afterward about why I was so bad that they had to hit me and what I could do in the future to avoid being hit is SO MUCH grooming for future abuse.

      edit: I feel the need to emphasize that I did not have it anywhere nearly as bad as these children. My folks would never have starved us or locked us out in cold weather, for one thing, and did recognize our humanity, even if they didn’t agree with it, but physical punishments were still a part of my daily life until well past the age of puberty.

      • M.S.

        Well and I suspect the parents in this situation were somewhat controlled, cold, and calculated as well. I mean if that girl was outside all night, that was a LONG TIME for the mother to calm down if she lost her temper or to re-think the punishment if she made it in a fit of rage, right? And not once did her conscience nag her that maybe she should go get her, give her a meal, and let her inside…

      • brbr2424

        She was out until midnight when she perished. Coincidentally the husband was off work at midnight and I’m sure Carri wanted to get everything buttoned up and Hana back locked in her sleeping closet before Larry got home.

        She was also required to exercise, which is a common fundie punishment also.

      • Jackie

        I have never been able to kennel a dog at night because I lie there feeling sorry for it locked in that cage. How in the world would you sleep?

      • Rosa

        they’re taught that ever backing down even once ruins the entire effort. Maybe not specifically by the Pearls but there’s a strong element of it in American authoritarian parenting advice – united front among parents, always follow through on threats, always win.

      • M.S.

        And I myself recognize that as a parent… go get a crying toddler once out of a crib at midnight and you will be getting them for every night the next week at midnight until you make them cry-it-out again. “Backing down” once unfortunately can undermine your authority or your good habits. HOWEVER, there are *always* exceptions. What if that crying toddler has a ear infection? What if his leg is stuck in his crib? What if he has a raging fever from meningitis? Its just impossible to parent *safely* in such a black-and-white manner.

      • brbr2424

        So true. An angry person will eventually calm down. People can avoid an angry person and walk on eggshells when they are in a mood. I’m sure the Williams prided themselves on their cold composure. The kids could not anticipate they would be beaten and starved and had their head shaved for cutting the grass too short or making a capital letter in the middle of a word.

    • Jayn

      I think the issue is not how controlled they are or aren’t, but the high, absolutist demands made of the children. If you believe that any sign of “rebellion” must be thoroughly quashed, and define rebellion widely enough, I can easily see a controlled parent going too far because the rules they’re using for discipline don’t allow them to stop.

      • ako

        Yeah, part of a healthy and balanced approach to discipline is recognizing that there are natural stopping points where getting the kid to obey isn’t the most important thing. Teaching the kids to do chores is useful and important, but less important than making sure you’ve met basic needs such as food, safety, and not freezing to death.

    • brbr2424

      I think that is where the book comes into play. If the disciplining is not working you have to do more of it and harder until the child is completely broken (or dead) and a winner can be declared. It is a fight to the death. Since this is presented as the only option and all others are ungodly, the natural instinct to say this isn’t working, maybe I’ll try something different, doesn’t kick in.

      • M.S.

        I just wish the authors of this book would be held accountable for their influence…. but maybe that is very difficult to prove in the court of law?

    • Lyric

      Judging by what my grandfather told me of his childhood, it can be done in a sane and controlled manner. He told me that while his father did spank him, it was for serious offenses that were clearly defined. It wasn’t protracted, or extended for subjective and arbitrary reasons like not submitting, and once the spanking was done, the subject was closed; the offense, whatever it was, was over and done with.

      I don’t like spanking. I won’t do it. But I don’t think my great-grandfather was an abuser, even if I don’t agree with his methods.

      (Ironically, one of the reasons I’m convinced that my great-grandfather wasn’t a bad man is that my grandfather was always supportive of non-spankers. When people have been through something that really wasn’t good for them, like beatings or hazing, you somtimes get a sort of defensive push-back against anyone who suggests that maybe it wasn’t really necessary. My grandfather never did that. He said that spanking never harmed him, as far as he knew, but he never insisted that it was a necessary part of child-rearing.)

      • M.S.

        Good point… I was not raised in a fundamentalist family (we are Catholic, but pretty forward-thinking Catholics). I was spanked, but very rarely and in a manner very similar to your grandfather… in a specific place, in a controlled manner, for a short period of time. And it definitely stopped at a certain age… I can’t even remember getting spanked so it didn’t go into adolescence. I am not going to spank my children mainly because I just don’t think it worked. It wasn’t effective at modifying my behavior. But I never felt abused, I had very loving parents who were just trying to do what they thought was best.

    • ako

      Physical discipline doesn’t inevitably turn abusive. My parents spanked me, and while it’s not a practice I’d recommend, it didn’t escalate or turn abusive. (Even when it’s not abusive, though, there are better ways to discipline – ways that are more effective, and ways that are kinder.)

      I think there are certain ideas that can make any kind of discipline more dangerous. Convince a parent that their kids can be expected to obey instantly and perfectly, that any failure to do so is willful rebellion, that the key to discipline problems is to do the same thing harder until the child “breaks”, and that failure to perfectly discipline a child will create delinquents, and you’ve primed them to be abusers.

  • M.S.

    Also, while I’m asking questions, it seems these fundamental families are often blended with biological and adopted children… and it seems the adopted children are always the ones we read about in the news…. is there any evidence to support this claim? Am I just imagining this? Or are these parents harder on their adopted children?

    • DataSnake

      There used to be a word for acquiring a child from Africa to do all the chores, beating them if they got too “uppity”. Rhymes with “schmavery”.

    • Shayna

      Or are these parents harder on their adopted children?

      Yes and no. They are applying the same principles, but the way Pearl methods work on a child that has been with you from birth & knows you love them vs. an older adopted child (with trauma in their backgrounds) that doesn’t have any reason to trust you is going to be very different.

      Also, many behaviors that are pretty par for the course in adoptees with neglect or abuse in their histories (like stealing/hoarding food) would be viewed as rebellion to a Pearl follower. So, in trying to apply the rules equally, they end up punishing the ‘rebellious’ adopted children much more than the bio kids. There does not seem to be any awareness in these parents of how past trauma works itself out in these kids.

      • M.S.

        Yes… every parent knows parenting and discipline are not one-size-fits-all methods… but I suppose that is even moreso the case when the child in question is a) not biological, b) from another country, and/or c) had a traumatic background.

        I just wondered if there were any studies done… seems like its a recurrent them that the murdered children are the adopted ones while the biological ones seem “ok”.

      • Christine

        Honestly, I can’t see it being something that people would see a lot of point in studying. We know that children who are adopted as older children have a lot of behavioural issues, and that they don’t relate to adults as well as children who grew up with their parents. That is enough to explain a lot of difference.

      • Guest

        It’s would be like other studies done that are used to educate jury pools, lawyers, police officers. Such knowledge about adopted children could be used to educate the parents. Not just that these kids will have problems (been there) but that you may not feel that gushy love you feel for a baby, which could affect how you respond with punishment. If a child irritates you, you might be more likely to be harsh. And you don’t see yourself in adopted children – you don’t look at your child and see your own eyes or your brother’s grin or your husband’s sense of mischief. There’s no one to tell you that you were the exact same way at that age. Maybe that makes it easier to be cruel.

        I should clarify that all my children are adopted so I do not know the other side – just guessing based on my grandchildren.

      • Christine

        If you’re just talking about how the parents relate, they do provide that information to adoptive parents (at least ones who are doing overseas adoptions, where the children were often in orphanages). I don’t know if they’ve done formal studies though, or if it’s based on observation. Raising a child who you adopted from an orphanage is very different from raising one from a baby, so they make sure that the parents are well-informed. (I don’t know what you got, because things will have changed)

      • Rosa

        “they” may not have in this case. I still don’t understand how these super pro-corporal punishment homeschooling many-child families fit any kind of good adoptive parent profile from an agency.

      • whatcom mom

        Some agencies make sure parents are well-informed (though you should never underestimate the power of selective deafness when a person really really has their heart set on something). Some agencies are not nearly that conscientious. And some people skip agencies entirely and deal with middlemen aka traffickers overseas.

      • Jackie

        I found an article referencing 2 studies on adopted v biological and abuse rates. Conclusions were that parents invested more time and energy in adopted children and they were less likely to be abused (this does not apply to stepparents). But maybe the results would be different if it was done on adopted children who were older than 1 and if they separated out why the children were adopted. Maybe people who adopt for religious reasons don’t really want to and so their results would more like stepparents – those children are 40 times more likely to be abused and 140 times more likely to be murdered.
        http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/200906/do-parents-favor-natural-children-over-adopted-ones

      • Christine

        I had interpreted M.S.’s query to specifically be referring to what happens to kids in abusive families, looking at the different outcomes. But you make a good point. (I’d also expect that the fact that there aren’t nearly as many hoops to jump through if you breed your own child to play a part. With biological children you don’t get sent to parenting classes unless you’ve already screwed up, there’s no screening, etc. )

      • Jackie

        I thought M.S. was referring to whether adopted kids were murdered at a higher rate than biological children are, like stepchildren are much more likely to be murdered than biological children with no stepparents,

      • M.S.

        My query was in general, adopted vs. biological abuse… but as Jackie pointed out, its difficult to lump all adopted kids into one category. That is a really good point you made though about how adopted parents have to “jump through more hoops” whereas biological parents only have to have 60 seconds of fun to be parents. I wish both processes were more discriminatory….

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Did you read the comments of that article? Lots of people think it’s BS. Not so sure about the first study, but I believe the second study is being misrepresented by the author of the original article.

        “Rather than looking at cases of abuse, neglect, homicide and other antisocial behavior, I focused on the positive investments parents made in their children as well as the outcomes of each child. The results show that parents invested more in adopted children than in genetically related ones, especially in educational and personal areas. At the same time, adoptees experienced more negative outcomes. They were more likely to have been arrested, to have been on public assistance and to require treatment for drug, alcohol or mental health issues.”

        http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138%2809%2900003-8/abstract

      • Jackie

        Lucreza Borgia, my point with the article was that studies have been done that compared how adopted children are treated compared to biological ones in family with both but the problem with applying those studies to situations like this is that the studies had primarily children adopted as infants. Adoptees are almost always going to experience more negative outcomes, no matter what their upbringing. We know the damage alcohol and drugs do to a fetus, but also any stress the mother undergoes while pregnant can also interrupt the DNA replication. Studies have shown a genetic link between relatives with substance abuse problems that are independent of upbringing.

        My point was that what would give the best answer to whether abuse happens more often in cases like Hana’s is to study children adopted toddler and beyond and separate out why the children were adopted. If you adopt a child because you desperately want one, you’d probably be more invested (like in the studies). But if you adopt out of guilt or for solely religious reasons, maybe you’d be more likely to abuse. That would tell us a lot when it comes to educating people about adoption and when it comes to doing home studies to determine if people should be allowed to adopt. People I know with now 9 adopted children were turned down after their 7th by an Ethiopian agency because they are very religious and the agency was suspicious – maybe those officials know something we don’t.

      • M.S.

        Good points… its hard to study “adopted kids” because as you explained there is such a wide range…. kids adopted at infancy vs. older kids vs. domestic kids vs. foreign kids vs. kids with history of abuse. Its hard to lump them all together in a study.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        That assumes that all agencies are ethical and that the US has uniform laws regulating adoption. With domestic adoptions, many people forum shop such as going to Utah or South Carolina to adopt even though they are not residents and neither is the mother. Sometimes, foreign adoptions have nothing to do with agencies here in the US.

      • Jackie

        I get that but studies first help explain, which then helps us predict, which leads to influencing. A study on how motives for adoption correlate to abuse would be a step in the right direction.

      • M.S.

        thanks for the link… I’ll read it….

      • Shayna

        every parent knows parenting and discipline are not one-size-fits-all methods

        You would think so, but my point is the Pearls claim to have exactly that. I know there are no exceptions to their rules for adopted kids in TTUAC, in fact adoption is not mentioned at all. I do not recall there being any mitigating circumstances for disabilities either.

        The Pearls do advocate a one-size-fits-all method, and following that method can lead to horrible outcomes like the Williams.

      • M.S.

        They are selling a lie. They should have a chapter at the end of the book called “exceptions”… that includes exceptions for if the child is sick, adopted, has a history of abuse, etc….

      • Shayna

        No argument from me on that front, but I think Hell would freeze over before the Pearls would admit their system isn’t perfectly perfect.

        ETA: In fact, I’d rather they just stopped selling the book at all. (and if all copies somehow disappeared I would not shed a tear)

    • B.E. Miller

      I’m assuming that the biological kids have been subjected to beatings and such early, and so they learned to ‘knuckle under’ and be submissive so as not to get in trouble.
      Adopted children, OTOH, might have gone through different upbringing. I’m assuming that Hana and Immanuel were well treated at the orphanage. And Hana’s relatives probably treated her pretty decently before giving her because they couldn’t afford her.
      So she wasn’t ‘trained’ in the same way as the other Williams kids.

  • Stev84

    His comment at the end shows how completely fundamentalist religion warps the moral compass of people who are otherwise decent. Deep down he knew that what he was doing is wrong, but he did so anyways because some psychopathic preacher told him to.

    • gimpi1

      That has always puzzled me, Stev84. People who can scream bloody-murder about the eevills of government schools brainwashing their precious babies into secular humanism, but be so slavishly devoted to crue nonsense generated by someone who claims his ideas are “Christian.” Cognitive dissidence indeed.

  • http://slatewoman.blogspot.com/ Slatewoman

    good. can’t wait to see the backlash come from the pro-HS blogs though…

    • TLC

      It will also be interesting to see if any fundegelical churches issue statments to denounce this kind of abuse. Will any of them have the guts to speak out publicly?

  • brbr2424

    Libby Anne, you wrote about how your parents involved you in disciplining the younger siblings. What will become of those older boys. How do they live with the knowledge that they whipped a dying girl in her final hours on earth for having the audacity to die slowly. I hope the bio kids are able to mentally break free and shake off all the stuff they learned about demons and women’s bodies. I’m concerned that they are living with relatives and that the relatives may be just the same.

  • Trollface McGee

    Good. I hope they get a long sentence and people don’t buy into their poor persecuted parent act.

  • Saraquill

    I don’t feel happy, relieved, or any real emotion at this verdict, just a vague sense of completion. It’s good that the Williamses won’t walk free for what they did, but it would be even better if they never harmed Hana or Immanuel in the first place.

  • Ahab

    I’m wondering how the fundamentalist Christian homeschool and adoption communities are reacting to the verdict. Any word?

  • whatcom mom

    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 naïve, 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.

    • Hilary

      I’ve thought about a lot of the things you brought up, since I have considered adopting from foster care and done a lot of research. IMO, it isn’t just the religious issue per se, but the total rigidity, demands for obedience and inability or unwillingness to have empathy for the child’s POV. I follow Cindy Bodies blog, Big Mama Hollers, every day for a few years now. She’s adopted 39 children in sibling sets, most from foster care, very difficult kids, and lives in the South and is a self-described vegan tree-hugging Christian fundamentalist. Yet she has an incredible amount of patience and flexibility to deal with what her children really need, including therapy and mental health support.

      What would I look for? I’d ask about their childhoods, what type of discipline/punishment they grew up with *and how they understand it now.* If a person grew up with a rigid, abusive level of punishment but can look back and reflect on what was the larger picture in the family, how things could have been done differently, and give concrete examples of learning different points of view, that would be a plus. If I got, ‘my parents whooped my ass and I turned out fine, kids these days are running wild because parents won’t parent them’ I’d smile and nod, then cross them off my list post hast.

      I’d look for black and white thinking in other area’s then parenting. Food in particular – is there only one right way to eat? Is a person so obsessed with healthy eating that they would refuse a confused and grieving child the comfort of familiar food from McDonalds? Huge red flag. Are meal times absolutely rigid in schedule, not in and of itself totally bad, but for children with food insecurities being able to get a small snack on demand 24/7 can be important in preventing a melt down over fear of not being fed. No matter how much a new parent promises food later the kid has probably been lied to by other adults about food and can’t trust. If the parent can’t be kind, empathetic, creative and flexible with food . . . I’d recommend they take up needle point instead.

      More later, I have to go to bed, thanks for asking.

    • Hilary

      Another big thing I’d look for is how well connected they are. Even healthily, easy, neurotypical babies and children are a lot of work, and isolation can make that go from hard to dangerous. Does the prospective parents in question have a diverse network of family, friends, and social engagements? Even if the particulars of their social network change when adopting a trauma child, which it probably will, the existence of a *diverse* social network means they are comfortable seeking out people from different parts of life, and are more likely to continue seeking out help and support from a variety of places when under stress.

      I’d check their books shelves for a range of reading interests, talk about music to see if they enjoy different voices. TBC . . .

    • gimpi1

      One idea might be to not allow home-schooling for the first couple of years for older kids. Another might be to require occasional meetings with a counselor for older kids, especially for international adoptions. Another suggestion might be to require parental counseling before an international adoption of an older child.

      These parents seemed clueless about what to expect from older kids, kids not raised in their sub-culture, kids who might have endured trauma before their adoption. Requiring such kids to be around mandatory reporters like teachers or counselors would open up an avenue for catching problems. Requiring parents to attend counseling sessions could bring those issues to their attention, hopefully helping them to be more realistic in their expectations.

      • Hilary

        Or if in those first few years homeschooling is deemed necessary, it’s a joint decission with councilors involved and multiple systems of feedback, support, and oversight.

    • Hilary

      Another suggestion: check how much diversity is in the extended families, and how that’s delt with. Is there any religious, social, racial, political, ethnic, or national diversity in the new child’s soon to be extended family? How well is it accepted? Can siblings with different politcal values still talk about football, at least? Are religious differences ok or cause to be shunned? Are there non-straight people in the family, and are they accepted? Older child adoption creates non-traditional families, that cannot be held to traditional standards of success and appearence. If there is enforced uniformity in the extended family, that’s a problem. But if Catholic grandparents can celebrate with Jewish grandchildren, a lesbian couple is welcomed and Hispanic cousins are just as normal as white cousins, that’s a good sign. (That’s also my actual family).
      What real life experience to the prospective parents have with mental illness? I’m not trying to label all older adoptive children as mentally ill or crazy, but there are going to be issues with mental trauma and healing, period. Actual experience with mental illness, healing, care for, patience with, safe boundaries around, compation for and education about is a plus. Being dismissive, or claiming that prayer alone should be enough is a red flag. There is nothing wrong with prayer when confronted with mental illness, but it is one tool in a multi-application tool box.
      More thoughts after lunch. You asked for opinions, I’ve a head full to share. I just hope it helps someone.

      • whatcom mom

        Oh shoot, I was just coming to the end of a long response and somehow I lost it.

        But the main part was, many thanks for these thoughtful suggestions. I think there are ideas here that can be used to identify red flags that stem from people’s personal attitudes, not from particular church memberships or education cohorts.

        I hope that the Williams case, plus the horrific stories on “rehoming” that are coming out in the Reuters series, will attract enough sustained attention to lead to some real changes in adoption practice.

      • Hilary

        I have a few more thoughts I’m going to try and post later this evening. I hope to be on the receiving end of a domestic adoption social worker in the next six months, so I’ve thought about this a lot. About the Reuters case, I wonder how much of that could have been prevented with good mental health care and support, including safe places for parents to bring children who too violent to live safely in a family. Because that is part of the story, when children through no fault of their own are too violent or mentally ill for the rest of the family to live with.

    • Hilary

      Recomendations about screening religious parents – fair disclosure, I’m a religious person, a Reform Jew. That’s a liberal, egalitarian and inclusive form of Judaism, close to the United Church of Christ socially and politically. We have our human share of mean people, assholes, and jerks, but the theological bedrock for Reform is prohetic social justice.

      If religion is important to pre-adoptive parents, I’d ask about what relgion, denomination, and place of worship they are specifically involved in, and independantly check it out. How much cultural and theological flexibility do they have to deal with life when it doesn’t fit in neat boxes? To what extent do they have friends and relationships with people outside their faiths? Even if they feel strongly about their beliefs, how comfortable are they with religious diversity?

      Are there any major abuse or sex scandals involved, and if so what has been the fallout? If there has been a major scandal I’d talk to the parents about it. If they can calmly and openly go over their religions strenghts and weaknesses, good. Perhaps they can explain the strengths they want to raise their children with, can objectively look at the larger picture of culture, politics and theology that created a scandal, and can articulate how they deal with it and protect their children. But if they get very defensive, start blaiming evil liberal media and god-hating secularists, or defending those in power ‘not really knowing’ or ‘we’re all sinners who need grace and forgiveness’ red flag, red flag. If they claim that even children have a sin nature and can be seductive or partially responsible, I’d smile, nod, then quietly check them out for abuse with any children they already have.

      If possible, if I was concerned about religous doctrine having a negative effect on their parenting, I’d go to their place of worship and sit in the back quietly through a few services. From there I could check out how the children feel. Can they run around, or are they seen and not heard? Are children allowed to express a full range of feelings, or are they a little too happy, uniformily so?

      Are boys and girls treated equally, or are there strong gender divisions even at a young age? Is there a strong modesty culture, or are women in diverse and comfortable clothes? Can you easily get a copy of the Church’s policy on sexual harrasment, or is that taboo and worldly? What type of safe gaurds and backround checks are available for the people directly involved with children? Is there any racial diversity, or theological diversity, and can dissenting opinions be allowed and encouraged? **What happens if a child has a screaming melt down in the middle of something social – are the parents shunned or supported?**

      Almost done, I’ve got a few more thoughts specifically about motherhood, I hope this makes some sense and helps out somebody at least a little. . . .

      • brbr2424

        I agree, that would be an improvement. Everything would have to be checked out. Carri lied on the adoption application about discipline.

      • Hilary

        I know – all of these idea’s wouldn’t catch a determined lier or psychopath, and I don’t know what social worker would have the time for such an extensive background check, even if they have the motivation, sensitivity and training to pick up ont the religious issues.

      • whatcom mom

        I talked to a friend who does home studies, and she said her pay for a home study of any complexity works out to about $8 per hour. Wherever the $20,000-$30,000 fees for international adoptions go, it evidently isn’t to the caseworker who actually sees the family in their home.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Seems to me the caseworker ought to be getting more of that money…

    • Hilary

      Last two thoughts: I’d check and see what type of access to mental health care and emergency care the family had. Not just do they have insurance, but geographic access. I’d be very hesitant to place a child with a folder full of mental health red flags with a couple who are five hours away from the nearest therapist or residential center, even if they did pass everything else with flying colors. That sucks, but it is real life.

      This last piece is very gendered, but lets face it parenting is a very gendered activity most of the time. One of the most important things I would look for is if the mother has other interests besides mothering that she gain support from. I’m speaking from my imagination here, not personal experience, but this is what I imagine to be one of the worst slippery slopes from loving mother to abusive mother, step by step.

      An older child being adopted already has multiple experiences with mothers and female caretakers, and while not all of them were abusive (hopefully) the primary relationship birth mother is being abandoned. If the kid is lucky there isn’t worse abuse involved. Yet even good foster mothers or caretakers still left, still got changed, still are gone. So the child’s primary understanding of Mother is that bad mommies hurt me and good mommies get ride of me, so I’m better off never letting another mommy be nice to me so I won’t be hurt when she get’s rid of me like every other mother who’s abandoned me. Older child attachment issues 101. Carried out far enough, hello RAD/reactive attachment disorder.

      For a woman whose entire identity, self-esteem and self worth is determined by motherhood, this rejection of her mothering could be seen as a rejection of her total self, or of total failure. The more she needs her particular ideal image of motherhood mirrored back to her by her children, the more she tries to enforce it on a child who is already struggling with their own identity, and trauma/adoption grief, rage, and abandonment issues, the more this can spiral into total hell for everybody involved.
      Perhaps she has her own unresolved issues, but also her culture could reinforce the belief that the greatest thing a woman can be is a successful mother to loving and obedient children, complete with the subcontext that it is the *only* socially accepted role for a woman. Then as the pressure to keep the appearance of perfect motherhood builds up with no outlet, what could have started out with the best of intentions can spiral into abuse to toe the line at all costs.

      If there are other ways women can be validated and valued besides motherhood, that might take some of the pressure off of a particular woman with a difficult child. If the woman knows that her value as a human being isn’t 100% dependent on her children, she can look to other parts of her life for emotional support and validation when motherhood becomes hell. Perhaps a book club, a crafting circle, choir, weekly Torah study, an outside job, gardening, blogging, writing X-rated fanfiction, whatever, just something somewhere where she can be appreciated and valued when her own child *through no fault of their own* is unable to accept or return her love. Gaining such emotional support and validation elsewhere could make all the difference to love a child who struggles with being loved or loving back.

      For one thing, it takes a ton of pressure of that child’s shoulders to not have to fulfill all of his or her mother’s emotional needs. *NO* child should be expected to do that under any family scenario. I want to be clear, I am not trying to victim blame children here. No child asks to be born with damaging pre-natal chemical exposure, or to parents who cannot control themselves, are neglectful, abusive, or simply in too much overwhelming poverty to deal with another mouth to feed. Or parents who die, either.

      Well, that’s it. I know this was quite a brain dump but since I hope to be on the receiving end of these types of questions before the year is out, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I guess I could sum all of this up as: Are they flexible, do they have experience with mental illness, does the mother have other social outlets, and are they well supported socially? FWIW, I can answer yes to all four questions. We’ll see what actually happens; I’ll admit I’m terrified of adopting a child who again through no fault of their own is unable to love me back no matter how hard I try. But there are no guarantees with children no matter how your family is formed, so I might as well try.

      • whatcom mom

        I can relate strongly to this last. My second daughter was devoted to her foster mother, too young at 21 months to understand why she had to move (not that explanations fix emotional pain, but I think toddlers can have an especially rough time processing), tremendously hyperactive, and furious–especially with me. She didn’t rage at my husband with the same intensity. She fought, she screamed, she bolted for the door at any opportunity, she insisted on sleeping (when she did sleep) in the winter jacket she arrived in, I think so she would be ready to get back in the car to go home.

        She was sometimes clingy but never affectionate in the early months (years?) and it was very wearing. The only time I could just be with her peacefully, hold her hand or stroke her hair was when she was asleep or sick. Definitely this slowed our attachment to each other, and I was grateful to the parents in our support group who had said many times that you might get a child whom you don’t feel love for at first–or maybe ever–and who may not love you, but that the obligation of loving action on your part does not change. You have to trust that some version of love will come. And for us it did, but it was a tough slog and of course much harder for her. I had other sources of love and agency in my life; she felt all alone. With my first child, placed as an infant and cuddly by nature, I was head over heels from our first meeting. With the second, really becoming her mother was much more an act of will.

        We were told in adoption prep that a general rule of thumb is that older adopted children need 6 months for every year of age at arrival to really integrate into your family and feel they belong. They may also need to repeat stages of attachment they missed in their earlier childhoods, like trying out the defiance and boundary pushing of the “terrible twos.” When I read about families who give up on their kids after a couple rough months I wonder what on earth they expected, and why?

        I know mothers of large adoptive families who belong to conservative churches. They basically are professional parents and they do just fine. They get past the pressure for perfection by keeping the big picture in mind, that they are doing a difficult job with perseverance and skill, and by keeping a sense of humor. I was also impressed by their commitment to their own well-being–somehow they find ways to include date nights, exercise, blogging, book club, something besides the neverending round of kids. I’m not that person–I’m pretty sure more than two children would have sunk my little ship. The pressure to keep adding more must be excruciating when you know you’ve reached your limit of mental and physical health.

      • Hilary

        I’m glad this made sense, like I said I was going off of other women’s stories and blogs, everything I’ve studied about older child/foster care adoption, and a very well developed imagination. I’ve enjoyed going over this stuff with you (and the others who’ve upvoted me – hi windkitty, L, Shayna, Jolie, Alison). As you can see it’s something I’ve really thought about and care about. I hope to be a good adoptive mom sometime in my life. I really appreciate this chance to share some practical ideas that might actually make it out of the blogosphere and into the real world rather then post rants about how evil this all is. If even one idea can do some good for one child the last couple late nights working on this would be worth it.

        I tried to concieve a few years ago, didn’t work, and my wife Penny has some health issues and isn’t going to try. BTW I’m a lesbian – a liberal Jewish lesbian who likes studying theology. Torah study would be one of my outlets – I actually like studying the Old Testament, it’s fascinating. The technical puzzle of trying to fit together all the different variables involved across time, geography, history, languages, belief, politics . . . it’s the ultimate ball of tangled yarn. I’ve also been known to crochet so obsesively that I get a reptitve stress inflamation in my thumb tendons when I don’t want to deal with emotions.

        I think the 6 months/1 year RoT sounds about right. Thanks for sharing about your daughter, I hope things are ok between you now. I’ve read the book “The Weavers Craft” specifically about toddler adoption. One of the biggest challenges they talk about is that toddlers are very alert and aware of the world around them, but still relatively pre-verbal and thus can’t process understanding or explanations like even a slightly older child can. I love the toddler stage of early childhood, but it would be a hard age to be adopted at.

        Thanks for coming here and asking for ideas. Please stick around, this is an interesting blog with a lot of interesting people commenting.

      • whatcom mom

        I have learned a tremendous amount from the bloggers and commenters here, and it cheers me up to see more of the diversity within religious traditions I haven’t experienced firsthand.

        I’m lucky to be very close to both my daughters now. I used to tell myself, over and over, that as long as they were ok with their lives as adults that’s all that really mattered, even if that didn’t include feeling close to me. But I got the best scenario: good relationships with two terrific young women who are doing fine and whom I love with all my heart. It may be reassuring to people considering special needs adoption that both my kids are college graduates, honorably employed, and all-around nice people. One is in the process of adopting after having one child by birth and the other is a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for children in state care. (Gotta stop bragging before I’m mistaken for Michael Pearl.)

      • Hilary

        There is no way you could *EV*ER* be mistaken for Mr. Pearl with the love, compassion and empathy you’ve shown. I’m glad to hear about your daughters, because one of the reasons I want children is to have a good adult relationship with them. My parents did a good enough job by me growing up, and I like them now as friends as an adult, as well as love them. Someday I’d like to have a similar good relationship with adult children, as well as the whole childhood-parent thing. Kids are great, but you spend more time as an adult child to your parents then as a little child.

        If you can forgive a moment of shameless self-promotion, Libby did a great job of exploring some of the diversity in Judaism last spring. The Jewish channel here isn’t very good, but I was part of this panel and I think it offers a lot of insight. It was fun to do, anyway.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/tag/judaism-101

        Take care, see you around here.

  • Renee

    I cannot even read this. I hope they are jailed for a very long time.

  • tulips

    I asked my police officer spouse what he thought the outcome would be wrt the convictions. Sadly he said probably serve about 4 years and likely will regain custody. I was surprised, I admit it.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Did everyone see this? This was also a possible fate for Hana and her brother: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/

    • onamission5

      I’ve been working my way through the series. Slow going because of how awful.


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