A Dream Come True?

Date: 2000-02-09
Source: cbsnews.com

Anger And Hallucinations

(CBS) For years, Crystal and Jesse had tried to have a child. Two years ago, they decided to adopt.

The couple decided to adopt a Russian child. "We really wanted to give a child an opportunity," says Crystal. Jesse had himself been adopted and knew how well it could work. But as Correspondent Troy Roberts reports, the couple found that dreams don't always come true.

They began doing research on the Internet, and found their daughter on an adoption agency's Web page. For them, she seemed to be the perfect child: a blonde-haired blue-eyed nine-year-old.

Before leaving for Russia, the adoption agency gave the girl's medical records to the couple. "The agency described a wonderful, outgoing, intelligent little girl who is charming to be around, loved all ages of children and desperately looking for parents," says Jesse.

Crystal and Jesse say that they understood that adopting an older child carries certain risks, but that the medical information they had seen indicated that the child was healthy.

The couple traveled to the Russian interior, to a town called Boravici. There, they paid nearly $30,000 for all the arrangements. The girl, Samantha (her name has been changed to protect her identity) was awaiting their arrival.

When Samantha first saw her, Crystal says, Samantha called her "my American mama."

While at the orphanage, the couple also decided to adopt a two-year-old boy, whom they called Joshua. "We were excited because we had seen pictures of the children and they were beautiful and it was a glorious thing," Crystal says.

Even then there were signs that the road ahead might be rocky. "We did see the anger but (thought) it could be explained," says Crystal. "Certainly a child arriving to a new culture, a new family, leaving her home - that's the only thing they've ever known."

Back in America, Crystal and Jesse settled into a new home in an Atlanta suburb, a short commute from Jesse's computer engineering job.

But Samantha was having problems. Her adoptive parents say she was often withdrawn and angry. They thought that it was nothing a little love couldn't fix. Crystal quit her job to spend more time with her children.

It didn't work. "She began stealing everything in the house," says Crystal. "She stole all my jewelry. She just began becoming very destructive."

Then, on Samantha's second Christmas in America, something happened. Crystal was working outside when she heard Joshua screaming. She looked up, and saw Samantha holding her brother, now five, over the railing of the 30-foot high deck.

It was more than roughhousing, Crystal says. "She had him in her hands and was going to throw him over the deck," she says. "And I saw her. She had him. And she - I mean her face, there was anger and hate. She was going to throw him over the deck. Immediately, I started screaming, 'Put him down. Put him down.' And (Samantha) just froze. Whn I came upstairs and got him I was like, 'What are you doing?' 'I want to kill him,' (Samantha) said. I said 'why?' (Samantha said) 'I'm mad at him.'"

Samantha told her parents she was hearing voices and having hallucinations. They admitted her to a psychiatric hospital. She spent almost four months under constant care before, they say, their insurance started running out. Crystal and Jesse say they were forced to bring her home.

With Samantha home again, the couple was frightened, and determined to protect themselves. They installed an elaborate security system, with cameras to track her movements. "She has told us on multiple occasions that if she gets an opportunity, she will injure or kill one of us in the family," says Crystal.

In conversations with Roberts, Samantha, who was forbidden to be alone with Joshua, admitted that her little brother wasn't safe.

"This child I would consider to be a homicide risk," says Dr. Brian Kennedy, who is the fourth psychiatrist who has seen Samantha in two years. "She is a risk to the family members. She's got a tremendous amount of rage and anger that she's hidden inside her. There's clear evidence of clinical depression. There's definitely clear evidence of a detachment disorder. There may be other developing psychiatric difficulties, such as bipolar illness or schizophrenia."

Although Samantha was taking several psychiatric drugs, the medications weren't working.

Then, according to Crystal and Jesse, there was another incident. Samantha allegedly tried to strangle the family dog. At that point, they decided to send Joshua 600 miles away, to live at his grandmother's house in Texas.

"Just imagine, you think you're bringing a bright girl to your home, but no one's told you that they're sociopathic and they have no conscience," says Crystal.

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