Judge ends parents' rights in MN starved boy case

Date: 2013-04-18

by: STEVE KARNOWSKI

MINNEAPOLIS - A judge has terminated the parental rights of a Minnesota couple accused of starving their 8-year-old adopted son, calling him the victim of preventable circumstances.

The boy was severely malnourished and weighed less than 35 pounds when his mother brought him to a Mankato hospital last October because she thought he had vomited blood. Authorities said he was 3 feet, 5 inches tall, and about the weight of an average 4-year-old. She told hospital staff he had been regurgitating and re-swallowing his food, and that his unusual behaviors also included eating food from their compost pile.

Nicollet County District Judge Todd Westphal wrote in his order, dated Wednesday, that he wasn't convinced that Mona and Russell Hauer, of North Mankato, meant to starve the boy. But he said he was troubled by their failure to get him the necessary medical and psychological care for his eating and other psychological issues. The judge decided not to terminate the Hauers' parental rights to their other three children, but they'll be subject to more proceedings to see what help the family needs.

The couple's attorney, Jason Kohlmeyer, said Thursday they're devastated by the ruling. He said they'll need to decide within 20 days whether to appeal.

"They'll do some praying on it, we'll do some talking on it and we'll see what happens," Kohlmeyer said.

The Hauers still face a criminal trial in June on felony counts that include child neglect, child endangerment and malicious punishment of a child. They have pleaded not guilty.

The Hauers had a biological child of their own before they adopted the boy and his two other siblings in 2008, after Dakota County authorities terminated the birth parents' parental rights, Westphal noted. The boy's biological father had physically abused him, causing multiple broken bones and other serious injuries.

The judge wrote that the boy's condition last October "was the result of a `perfect storm' of unfortunate and, to a large extent, preventable circumstances." He said the abuse in his birth home and the boy's resulting psychological problems "made him a `ripe' candidate for what eventually occurred."

He said the Hauers failed to follow professional advice on services he needed and how to address behavioral challenges. He also faulted them for their "aversion to traditional health care beliefs and practices," and said their "highly moralistic" efforts to correct his behavior were the opposite of what he needed.

"The end result finds (the boy) in a near fatal state of malnourishment," he said, while the Hauers were at their "wits end" in trying to deal with him.

Westphal wrote he was sad that his order once again "leaves him without adults that he can call mom and dad."

The boy has been with foster parents since getting out of the Mayo Clinic last November, the judge wrote, and they've indicated a willingness to adopt him. His eating habits seem normal, his growth is catching up and he's attending second grade, he said.

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screened?

I wonder what the home study of this couple looked like.

Case Study

If in 'case study' you mean the report social services formally submits, I don't know.  This is what I do know, and all too familiar to you folks here:  Baptist fundamentalist homeschoolers.  Church and friends flood the court with letters and testimony.  As you can see here in criticism of actual professionals by the judge, the good Christian bias shows up.

The child's siblings remain with the Hauers even though the judge admits they were all subject to abuse.  If it is any consolation, they are being followed closely and yet face a criminal trial.  Their foster care license has been revoked. 

abuse and the orphan crusade

Good fundamentalist home schoolers make up a significant cross-section of our abuse case archive. As you mention, the solidarity within these groups is enormous, providing positive recommendations, and in many cases funding for the adoption too. In that light the orphan crusade raging through many Christian churches in the last decade is one of the most dangerous developments in Adoptionland.

When going through our abuse case archives, it is pretty evident that fundamentalist religious beliefs, often in combination with home schooling practices has been a serious issue at least way back to the middle of the 1990s, Now that adoption becomes more and more dominated by fundamentalist Christians, the risks for children placed through the American adoption system has only increased.

There is no excuse, no

There is no excuse, no debate, no argument that supersedes the medical facts that this boy nearly died while under the care of these so called "parents". Friends, family, neighbors must have looked the other way to not recognize this boy was starving.

This is a shout out to everyone to look closer, ask questions, and if things don't seem quite right...report to Child Protective Services. No friendship or relationship is more valuable than a child's life and well being.

Blessings to that little boy. May he grow strong, be healthy and happy!

Justice for the poor boy

A boy, or any child, should never have to go through such hardship. Neglecting a child, putting him in danger and maliciously punishing him are the worst things parents could do to their child. Poor boy, I hope he gets all the support, help and justice he can get to recover.

I've gotten to know the boy,

I've gotten to know the boy, he is doing great and seems quite happy with his new family.

 Check out mankatofreepress.com to follow the upcoming criminal trial.

Thanks

We added these two articles to our archive.

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