18 Children in care of Tom and Debra Schmitz


10 children adopted by/in legal custody of and 7 children illegally in the "care" of Tom and Debbie Schmitz were abused by their adopters (they also had 1 bio child). For years the Schmitzes took in disabled and otherwise troubled children in their home and were part of an under-ground network of people taking in children from disrupted adoptions. As adherents of Attachment Therapy, they beat their children, locked them up in cagelike bunk beds, forcing one child to eat his own vomit; holding another child's head underwater as punishment; sitting on a girl and urinating on her; and hurling a wheelchair-bound girl into a swimming pool; placing a hose in a girl's mouth and turning on the water, and lancing a boil on another child with a box cutter as she screamed in pain; forcing children to dig what they were told were their own graves.

Seven children in the "care" of Tom and Debra Schmitz were illegally placed. At least: 2 were from China, 2 from Russia, 1 from Vietnam and 1 from Mexico.

Debra pleaded no contest to 14 counts of child abuse and one count of trafficking. She was sentenced to six months in jail and probation. Tom Schmitz case has been expunged. The Schmitz are now divorced.
Date: 2004-06-30
Placement type: Adoption
Type of abuse: Non-lethal physical abuse, Non-lethal deprivation
Abuser: Adoptive father, Adoptive mother
Disabilities: yes
Home schooling: yes


Trenton, Tennessee
United States
See map: Google Maps
DocumentDatesort icon
A Chinese girl is moved to Tennessee, and ‘hell’ begins2013-09-11
Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave2013-09-09
Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas2013-09-09
Girl, given up by adoptive parents, made to dig own grave in abusive new home2013-09-09
Mother begins serving sentence that even daughter thinks is too short2007-05-27
Schmitzes enter plea agreements days before second trial2006-07-11
Safe Haven or House of Horror?2006-02-13
Adopted son defends couple accused of child abuse, trafficking2006-02-04
Jurors hear testimony from children in case against Tom and Debra Schmitz2006-01-31
Protect foster kids2006-01-23
USA Today Helps Expose AT Underground Trafficking of Unwanted Children2006-01-20
Underground network moves children from home to home2006-01-18
Enclosed beds cause controversy2006-01-17
Kenton mother accused of child abuse, makes bail2004-11-11
Child Abuse in Two Huge Tennessee Families Investigated2004-09-02
Schmitz' daughter talks about how her parents abused foster children2004-09-01
New foster parent says children relieved to be rescued 2004-08-23
Charges reduced in alleged abuse case2004-08-18
Pair charged in abuse case might see kids 2004-07-28
Affidavit: Children made to dig own graves Friday, July 9, 20042004-07-09
Authorities still wondering how Schmitzes got 18 children 2004-07-06
Abuse Claims At Noted Foster Home2004-06-30
Police ponder more child abuse charges2004-06-30
Allegations taint adoption story2004-06-25
Tenn. couple specializes in raising kids2003-05-11
Schmitz Family 2000-03-26
Families of Distinction 2000-03-26


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