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White Mom, Black Daughter, Natural Hair: When Beautiful Means “Different.”[blog post]

Date: 2013-09-11

White Mom, Black Daughter, Natural Hair: When Beautiful Means “Different.”
 — SEP 11, 2013

By Stacey Conner

“Who does her hair?” she asks me gruffly. I look up from the table where I am trying to manage my four young children and squint into the glare of the insanely fluorescent lighting of a local burger restaurant. I rarely take the kids out to eat alone, but day after day trapped in the house have driven us to this corner burger place. The freezing rain taps against the dark window. I try to block it out along with the difficult drive home.

“I’m sorry?” I reply as she registers over the chaos and the demands for fries. She is barely taller than my oldest children with a pretty face around a prominent nose. I notice first the red apron that she wears around her waist and blush at the french-fry explosion under our table. The red glow in my cheeks burns deeper when I finally understand her question.

Orphaned in Russia, brought to America, and then abandoned time and again

Date: 2013-09-11

Orphaned in Russia, brought to America, and then abandoned time and again
By Megan Twohey

Filed September 11, 2013
[part 5 of a 5 article series here The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children ]

PROMISED LAND: Inga Whatcott was 12 when she came to the United States. About a quarter-million foreign children have been adopted by Americans. No one tracks what becomes of them. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Part 5: A mother decides she adopted ‘a pig in a poke’ and sends her daughter away. Inga: ‘My parents didn’t want me. Russia didn’t want me. I didn’t want to live.’

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains language that some readers may find offensive.

BATTLE CREEK, Michigan – Inga spent most of her childhood in a Russian orphanage, longing for parents who would protect her.

Her biological mother, a prostitute, had abandoned her when she was a baby. She never knew her father.

Unwanted adopted children traded online in underground network

Date: 2013-09-10

Unwanted adopted children traded online in underground network
[part of NBC coverage of Reuters series The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children ]

Nicole Eason sits inside her Tucson, Ariz., home on May 7, 2013. Eason has taken in more than a half-dozen children, many from failed international adoptions, during the past decade.  Samantha Sais / Reuters

By Megan Twohey
Reuters

Editor's Note: Today's stories are the second installment in a series of online and broadcast reports on adoption by Reuters and NBC News.

HICKORY, North Carolina, Sept. 10 - When Megan Exon began moderating an Internet bulletin board in 2007, she viewed her effort as a way to help kids find better homes.

The group was called adoption_disruption, and it drew parents who were struggling to raise children they had adopted.

With blind trust and good intentions, amateurs broker children online

Date: 2013-09-10

With blind trust and good intentions, amateurs broker children online
By Megan Twohey
Filed September 10, 2013
[part 3 of a 5 article series here The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children ]

GO-BETWEEN: Megan Exon moderated a re-homing bulletin board from her home in North Carolina. She came to regret introducing two sets of parents to the Easons. "I felt like we were participating in something that was getting out of hand." REUTERS/John Adkisson

Part 3: A woman thought she was helping find better homes for unwanted adoptees. Duped by one couple, she tries to rescue a Russian boy and an 8-year-old girl.

HICKORY, North Carolina – When Megan Exon began moderating an Internet bulletin board in 2007, she viewed her effort as a way to help kids find better homes.

The group was called adoption_disruption, and it drew parents who were struggling to raise children they had adopted.

Prosecutors delay new abuse charges in adoption case

Date: 2013-09-10

HARTFORD, Conn., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Prosecutors declined to sign arrest warrants alleging sexual abuse by a Connecticut same-sex couple, saying police need to investigate the matter further.

The case against George Harasz and his partner David Wirth has been a complicated one. The two men have adopted nine boys from three sibling groups through the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. Some of the children have brought allegations of ongoing sexual abuse while others say the accusers are lying and have stood by their adoptive fathers.

Prosecutor Anthony Bochicchio said new allegations of sex abuse, which surfaced at a court hearing in April, came after the men had reached a plea deal with prosecutors that would have granted them suspended sentences on a single charge each of risk of injury to a minor. The judge allowed the men to vacate their pleas after the new allegations surfaced.

Harasz and Wirth, of Glastonbury, Conn., have steadfastly denied any abuse took place.

For desperate parents, ‘there was no other option’

Date: 2013-09-10

For desperate parents, ‘there was no other option’
By Megan Twohey and Blake Morrison

[Inset on Part 3 of a 5 article series here The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children ]

The parents who turned to the Internet to find new homes for their adopted children made a choice that carries serious risks.

The explanations they give for their decisions are variations on a theme. As Melissa Puchalla, a Wisconsin mother, said: "There was no other option."

Parents who adopted from overseas often mention the child's behavioral problems or mental illnesses, conditions that were undisclosed, unforeseen or not fully appreciated prior to the adoption. Sometimes, the child never bonded with the parents, or acted out through violence or vandalism – behavior that parents came to believe could imperil other children in their households.

Here are excerpts from interviews with some of those parents, who explain what led them to use the Internet child exchange:

Despite ‘grave danger,’ government allows Internet forums to go unchecked

Date: 2013-09-10

Despite ‘grave danger,’ government allows Internet forums to go unchecked
By Megan Twohey
Filed September 10, 2013
[part 4 of a 5 article series here The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children ]

TENSE NIGHT: Anna Barnes was 13 when her parents gave her to the Easons. "Please don't send me," she recalls saying. Now 18, she says she was made to share a bed with Calvin and Nicole Eason. REUTERS/Richard Rodriguez

Part 4: Parents bypass weak laws and authorities don’t enforce them. A police officer gives away his adopted son. ‘It could have been Hannibal Lecter.’

TUCSON, Arizona – Tom and Misty Mealey brimmed with hope as a battered purple pickup pulled up to their Virginia home.

It was July 5, 2009, and their houseguests had arrived – a husband and wife who had driven from upstate New York to the Mealey residence just outside of Roanoke.

Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas

Date: 2013-09-09

Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas
By Megan Twohey
Filed September 9, 2013
[part 1 of a 5 article series here The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children ]

MOTIVATED MOM: In her time seeking children on the Internet, Nicole Eason has referred to herself as Big Momma and Momma Bear. Her term for informal custody transfers is "non-legalized adoption," and she defines the phrase to mean: "Hey, can I have your baby?" REUTERS/Samantha Sais

When a Liberian girl proves too much for her parents, they advertise her online and give her to a couple they’ve never met. Days later, she goes missing.

KIEL, Wisconsin – Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled for more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they'd adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give her up, they found new parents to take her in less than two days – by posting an ad on the Internet.

Inside America's underground network for adopted children

Date: 2013-09-09

(Some differences from the Reuters article "Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas" )

Inside America's underground network for adopted children

Jeffrey Phelps / Reuters
Quita Puchalla, 21, stands outside her apartment in Milwaukee. Adopted as a child she now lives on her own and is going to school.

By Megan Twohey
Reuters

Editor's Note: Today's stories are the first in a series of online and broadcast reports on adoption by Reuters and NBC News.

KIEL, Wisconsin -- Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they’d adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give up the 16-year-old, they found new parents to take her in less than two days — by posting an ad on the Internet.

Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, responded quickly. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. “People that are around me think I am awesome with kids,” Eason wrote.

Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave

Date: 2013-09-09

By Monica Alba, Kate Snow and Mark Schone
NBC News

A Tennessee woman says that when her adoptive parents gave her away to new parents at age 14, she and 17 other adoptive kids in her “nightmarish” new home were sometimes forced to dig their own “graves” in the backyard and scrub the floor with toothbrushes.

“’Get out and go dig your own grave,” Nora Gateley, now 26, says her new mother told her. “’I don’t care if you die. Nobody will find you. You were not even here in the first place.”

Americans have adopted nearly a quarter million children from overseas since the late 1990s, but sometimes the children have undisclosed physical or behavioral problems, and sometimes their adoptive parents simply can’t cope with their new responsibilities.

An investigation by Reuters in partnership with NBC News has uncovered an underground world of “re-homing,” where parents give their children to new caretakers, sometimes people they have met only over the internet, with little or no government oversight.

Sheriff's Department Press Releases

Date: 2013-09-09

2013-09-19: Felony Child Abuse
What initially began as a missing child investigation resulted in the arrest of Phil and Kimberly Loesch of Harbor Springs. Both Phil and Kimberly Loesch were charged with three counts of Felony Child Abuse – 2nd Degree. On July 15th 2013, the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office was called to Readmond Township for a missing 13 year old boy. After a grueling two day search the boy was located in Cross Village. Sheriff Pete Wallin states, “During the course of the search my office received several tips as to the reason why this young man may have left his home.” After the boy was located, an investigation began regarding possible child abuse by his adopted parents.

Both Kim and Phil turned themselves into the sheriff’s office and are out on a $10,000 bond. Sheriff Wallin asks if anyone has information regarding this case to please call (231) 439-8900.

2013-07-17: Missing Child FOUND

Williams Trial: Mother guilty on 3 counts, father on 2

Date: 2013-09-09

Williams Trial: Mother guilty on 3 counts, father on 2

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013 3:53 pm | Updated: 4:52 pm, Mon Sep 9, 2013.

By Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — A jury has found Carri Williams guilty of all charges in the homicide and abuse trial involving the death of a young teenage girl she and her husband adopted and assault of their adopted son.

Her husband, Larry Williams, was found guilty of manslaughter and assault of a child. The jury was unable to agree on whether Larry was guilty of homicide by abuse.
The jury started deliberating this past Thursday after the seven-week trial of Larry and Carri Williams, whose parenting practices were called into question after Hana Williams died in May 2011 after collapsing in the family's backyard home in the Sedro-Woolley area.

An autopsy showed she died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition.

The Williamses were charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana and first-degree assault of the younger boy they adopted at the same time as Hana. Both were adopted from Ethiopia.

Inquest into five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin’s ‘horrific’ starvation death begins

Date: 2013-09-08

One of the last people who saw Jeffrey Baldwin alive said the five-year-old was so weak and malnourished that as he crawled upstairs to his cold, fetid bedroom in a slow “death march,” his pyjama bottoms fell down with each step.

By the time he starved to death Jeffrey weighed 21 pounds — one pound less than he did on his first birthday.

It’s a disturbing scene that will always stick with retired Toronto Police Det. Michael Davis, who investigated Jeffrey’s death 11 years ago.

“He was trying to make his way up the stairs, crawling up the stairs as his little pyjamas were falling off of the hips because he had no hips,” Davis recalled from testimony at the trial where Jeffrey’s grandparents were convicted of second-degree murder.

“You deal with it, but you don’t forget it. That’s what makes you angry, when you see something like this. What makes me even more angry is the fact that it could have been prevented.”

Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman were already convicted child abusers when they were granted custody of Jeffrey and three other grandchildren in 2002.

Timeline of fatal child abuse case

Date: 2013-09-08

Timeline of fatal child abuse case
(inset article)
A chronology of notable dates in Jeffrey Baldwin’s life and events that led up to his death.

1970: A 19-year-old Elva Bottineau is sentenced to one year of probation for assaulting her five-month-old daughter Eva, who had died of pneumonia.

1978: Norman Kidman is convicted of assaulting two of Bottineau’s children from a previous relationship.

1998: The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto gives Bottineau and Kidman custody of four of their grandchildren, including Jeffrey.

Nov. 30, 2002: Jeffrey dies, weeks shy of his sixth birthday, of septic shock from malnutrition and bacterial pneumonia that was caused by sleeping in his own waste. He weighed 21 pounds — one pound less than he did on his first birthday.

Sept. 8, 2005: The trial begins for Bottineau and Kidman. They plead not guilty to first-degree murder.

April 7, 2006: Bottineau and Kidman are convicted of second-degree murder in what police described as one of the worst cases of child abuse Canada has ever seen.

No verdict yet, juror excused from Williams trial

Date: 2013-09-06

No verdict yet, juror excused from Williams trial
No verdict yet; deliberations resume Monday

Hana Williams
Courtesy, Lemley Chapel
Hana Williams of Sedro-Woolley died in May 2011. Her parents face charges in connection with her death. She is believed to have been 13 years old when she died.

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013 5:30 pm | Updated: 9:21 pm, Fri Sep 6, 2013.

By Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — No verdict has been reached yet in the trial of Larry and Carri Williams, a Sedro-Woolley-area couple accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death and assaulting their adopted son.

The jury started deliberating Thursday afternoon, but were sent back to square one Friday morning when a juror was excused after lawyers learned he talked to his wife about procedural matters related to the case. He was replaced with an alternate; one alternate remains.

Jurors were sent home for the weekend and resume deliberations at 9 a.m. Monday.

Pound Pup Legacy