Trebilcocks deny mistreating adopted children

Date: 2012-01-14

January 14, 2012 8:15 pm • By Barbara LaBoe / The Daily News

The Longview area couple accused of starving their five adopted children in May say they are loving parents who weren't told of pre-existing health problems in several of the children.

Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock, answering a series of email questions, also said they had been approved for another private adoption just prior to the time their children were taken into state custody last spring The couple went through "the meticulous scrutiny of a home study and had received nothing but extremely positive reports," they said.

The answers are the couple's first extensive public comment on the case since their children were seized.

They adamantly denied that any of their children were mistreated, beaten or starved, as alleged in court documents.

"We have not, and would never, starve or abuse any of our children, whether adopted, biological or living with us in foster care," the couple wrote. "We can state definitively that none of the children that have ever been in our care have been mistreated, abused or denied food, clothing, shelter, or any other necessities to thrive and develop."

Court documents state all the children were underweight and told investigators they're resorted to eating dog food and weeds at time. The Trebilcocks, though, said the children were in good health and a recent bout with the flu had caused several family members to lose weight and led to their son's hospitalization.

"Based upon that weight loss, the other four adopted children were removed from our home despite no adverse symptoms stemming from our providing for them in every way that a parent should," the couple wrote. "Rather than an investigation or inquiry into the living conditions, the children were unilaterally taken from us."

According to court documents, the couple's adopted son, then 13, weighted just 49 pounds when admitted to the emergency room in March, too weak to stand or use his hands properly. That's about 50 pounds less than what a normal 13-year-old should weigh.

The Trebilcocks said the children, three of whom were from Haiti, were small for a number of reasons, including exposure to alcohol in the womb, spending time in "impoverished" Haitian orphanages and mental and physical disorders. They said they were not appraised of these conditions prior to the adoptions.

A state report released last week said claims of pre-existing physical disorders is a common way tactic by abusive parents trying to disguise starvation symptoms.

The couple also discredits reports that the children gained weight after being placed in foster care.

"Our understanding is that they are now being fed a high-fat and high-sugar diet that would cause weight gain as result," they wrote. They said some of the weight gain also was normal after a bout with the flu. "This ‘rebound' effect is being used as evidence of mistreatment despite the fact that their weight would have returned and increased naturally had they not been displaced."

The couple has not seen the adopted children for several months and blame state officials.

"When healthy and thriving children can be taken from their home for no apparent reason, it clearly indicates there is a flaw in the system," the Trebilcocks wrote. "We hope and pray on a daily basis that visitation and reunification will occur soon."


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