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Inspired by stories shared by birth parents, adoptive parents, and adult adoptees, PPL explores the dark side of adoption, and the consequences illegal and unethical actions have on future family-life and the well-being of those affected by adoption.

Too many children are placed for the benefit of agencies and based on the demands of prospective adoptive parents.

Too many children are placed in inappropriate homes because the business interests of adoption agencies have higher priority than the safety of children.

PPL documents and archives cases where the child placement system did not work in the best interest of the child and we offer a platform for those who want to express their thoughts and feelings about the dark side of child adoption.

Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives

Hearing for foster parents of dead girl, 3, pushed to Monday

Date: 2014-10-28


The family of 3-year-old Serenity Julia Gandara wondered if her foster parents -- her alleged killers -- would ever see trial, but the couple finally made their first Kern County court appearance Tuesday.

Alberto Garcia, 31, and Carla Garcia, 30, are accused of killing Serenity and abandoning her 4-year-old brother Isaiah Gandara in their southwest Bakersfield home in July 2010.

The Garcias then fled to Mexico, taking their two biological children and Carla Garcia's son from a previous relationship with them. The couple was apprehended in February 2012, and after exhausting extradition appeals, booked Friday into the Kern County Jail.

"I didn't think they would find (them)," Serenity's paternal grandmother Renee Maese said outside of court Tuesday. "I thank God every day they found them."

During the brief appearance, the Garcias wore jail uniforms and were handcuffed.

Kern County Superior Court Judge H.A. "Skip" Staley agreed to postpone their court appearance until 3 p.m. Monday.

Two arraigned on charges after teen found in cage in Michigan's Thumb

Date: 2014-10-28

By Brad Devereaux

PARIS TOWNSHIP, MI — Two adults were arraigned on charges of unlawful imprisonment and abuse after police found a 19-year-old "mentally disabled" man in a cage that was chained shut inside a Huron County bedroom.

Karen S. Tolin, 65, and Timothy E. Tolin, 66, both occupants of the house where the teen was found, were arraigned in Huron County District Court Tuesday, Oct. 28. Each is charged with a single count of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony, and third-degree vulnerable adult abuse, a high court 2-year misdemeanor.

Both are free on $5,000 or 10 percent bonds, court officials said.

Police responded to investigate a civil dispute about 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, to a home at 3700 Minden Road south of Priemer, when they discovered the mentally challenged male teen in a caged bed with the door chained shut, the Huron County Sheriff's Department said in a prepared statement.

The two suspects were arrested on the charges authorized by Huron County Prosecutor Tim Rutkowski.

Fugitive pair returned to Kern County in foster child's death

Date: 2014-10-26

By Tammy Brown

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A man and woman wanted in connection with the July 18, 2010, death of a Bakersfield foster child have been returned by the FBI to Kern County to face charges.

The Sacramento Division of the U.S. Department of Justice made the announcement Sunday.

Alberto and Carla Garcia had been in the custody of Mexican authorities since February 2012 awaiting extradition.

Serenity Julia Gandara, 3, was found dead inside the Garcia's southwest Bakersfield home in 2010. Investigators said Carla Garcia called her sister to tell her about the death, and the aunt called police. Serenity's 4-year-old brother was found asleep in a bedroom.

The sheriff's in-custody webpage shows the Garcias are jailed without bail and scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Foster parents of girl found dead in 2010 returned to Kern

Date: 2014-10-26

The couple wanted in connection with the death of a 3-year-old foster child in 2010 was returned to Kern County by the FBI this weekend.

Authorities say 31-year-old Alberto and 30-year-old Carla Garcia fled their southwest Bakersfield home in 2010 for Mexico, leaving behind the body of Serenity Julia Gandara and her 4-year-old brother Isaiah, who was found asleep in a bedroom.

The Garcias were arrested in Mexico in February 2012 and have been awaiting extradition.

Their return to Kern was announced Sunday by the Sacramento Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Carla Garcia is charged with first-degree murder and three counts of willful cruelty to a child, and Alberto Garcia is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of willful cruelty to a child, according to Kern Countuy Superior Court records.

According to court records, the Garcias’ family members said they were aware of “ongoing physical abuse” of both children.

Doctor testifies in Army couple’s trial about suspicions of child abuse

Date: 2014-10-21


In treating the injured 2-year-old adopted daughter of Army Maj. John E. Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, a doctor testified Tuesday that he was reminded of a patient he had seen two years earlier with similar injuries: the girl’s adopted brother.

Juan Gutierrez, head of the pediatrics intensive care unit at Morristown Medical Center, testified Tuesday in the Jacksons’ child-abuse trial in federal court in Newark that the underweight girl’s body, dotted with scars, resembled that of the boy he had previously treated.

“I came to the realization that the mother taking care of this child was the same person who had been taking care of the prior child I had seen,” he said.

Gutierrez was the first witness called at the trial of the Jacksons, who are charged with abusing and neglecting their three young adopted children through beatings, withholding water and force-feeding them hot pepper flakes and sauce. The couple lived at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County for a period during which they also are charged with withholding proper medical care from their children.

Jeffrey Baldwin statue unveiled in Greenwood Park

Date: 2014-10-18

Years after his tragic death, young Jeffrey Baldwin was again remembered with the unveiling of a memorial statue Saturday afternoon in Toronto's Greenwood Park.

The life-sized bronze statue sees Baldwin dressed up as Superman, an image familiar to anyone who followed the inquest into the boy's death.

Baldwin starved to death in 2002, just before his sixth birthday, while under the care of his grandparents. Both are now serving life sentences for second-degree murder.

During the inquest his father, Richard Baldwin, described the young boy's love of Superman, though the statue was arranged by a complete stranger in Ottawa.

Todd Boyce started an online campaign last year, raising more than $50,000 for the work by sculptor Ruth Abernathy.

"I just felt compelled after learning about what happened … how he was hidden away and abused," Boyce told CBC News. "I felt I needed to do something so he'd be remembered."

Jeffrey Baldwin’s grandmother denies responsibility in his death

Teenage son will testify against U.S. Army major and wife accused of abusing adopted children

Date: 2014-10-17

By Thomas Zambito

Newark - The teenage son of an Army major and his wife will tell jurors how his parents punished his three adopted siblings with vicious beatings they justified by pointing to the Bible, a federal prosecutor said today.

During opening statements in the child endangerment trial for U.S. Army Major John Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, 34, an assistant U.S. Attorney revealed for the first time the key witness against them will be their 16-year-old biological son.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky said the teenager confronted his mother after witnessing her striking the adopted children with belts, sticks, spatulas and paddles for offenses like walking too slowly or getting in a car seat too slowly.

“You spare the rod, you spoil the child,” his mother told him, Shumofsky said. “He was told you can’t argue with the Bible.”

The Jacksons are facing federal charges of child endangerment and assault for abusing their three adopted children between the years 2005 and 2010 while John Jackson, 38, was stationed at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County.

Prosecutor: Army major, wife abused adopted kids

Date: 2014-10-17


When people met Army Maj. John E. Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, they were impressed by them. The couple “presented well” to the outside world. And they seemed engaged with their six children, three of whom were adopted.

But it was a different story behind closed doors, where the adopted children were malnourished, beaten and burned, a federal prosecutor said Friday during the start of a trial that has received nationwide attention for its horrific allegations of child abuse.

The couple engaged in a systematic pattern of abuse and neglect of their three young adopted children, then lied to health care workers about the origin of their children’s injuries when they sought medical attention for them, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky told a jury during opening statements before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden in Newark.

Manitowoc County mom pleads not guilty

Date: 2014-10-16

MANITOWOC – A woman accused of child abuse for allegedly putting the child in a scalding bath pleaded not guilty.

Ruthann Gneiser waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday and pleaded not guilty, according to online court records.

No trial date was set. A plea hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11.

She’s accused of beating and scalding her five-year-old son, who has Down syndrome. According to court documents, she admitted to slapping the boy repeatedly on his back. She’s also accused of making the boy sit in a bathtub filled with scalding water. Gneiser said she didn’t realize the water was too hot.

A judge previously denied Gneiser’s request to see her children. The issue of supervised contact was raised again Wednesday. The judge will hear arguments on that at a hearing Tuesday

Peoria family accused in abuse of 2 adopted sisters

Date: 2014-10-15

By Jesse A. Millard

A 24-year-old Peoria woman, whose parents are accused of abusing their 11- and 13-year-old adopted daughters, was arrested Monday in connection with the case, court documents say.

Kourtney Jorg faces two counts of child abuse and two counts of kidnapping, while her parents each face six counts of child abuse, records say.

The abuse reportedly occurred between January and May of this year.

Police say Kourtney Jorg had been living with her parents, Kimery and Johann Jorg, and her four adopted sisters, ages 13, 11, 8, and 7, at the time of the reported abuse. However, court records available on Tuesday did not detail her reported participation.

Kimery Jorg, 54, and Johann Jorg, 61, were arrested after Peoria police found that the eldest of the adopted girls was malnourished and two of them had many callouses on their hands and buttocks, records say.

Police said Kimery Jorg had previously contacted Southwest Behavioral Health, which treated the girls since their adoption five years ago, for help with the eldest, whom she described as "deviant" and "defiant."

Couple Sentenced In Abuse Of Adopted Kids Case

Date: 2014-10-15

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A couple that pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges back in June, was sentenced Monday morning.
Kristen Barbour was sentenced to 6 to 12 months incarceration, but will be eligible for alternative housing.

Douglas Barbour was sentenced to five years of probation.

The adoptive parents of the Ethiopian children gave emotional testimony about the lasting effects of the abuse, including the starvation of the boy and the physical problems of the girl. However, they said they are now thriving.

Kristen Barbour told Judge Jeffrey Manning, “I have always sought to serve others. I am not a monster….I hope they will understand my intent and have it in their heart to forgive.”

According to the criminal complaint, inside the couple’s Franklin Park home, the children were abused and assaulted.

Investigators say the boy reported that he was once thrown to the ground, hitting his head, and punished by standing in a dark bathroom.
As part of the plea agreement, the Barbours agreed to terminate their parental rights.

Western Pa. Mother Accused of Abusing Daughter

Date: 2014-10-10


A western Pennsylvania woman has been charged with simple assault and other offenses after police say she forced her daughter to eat cat litter and started to sew her mouth shut.

Police charged Rana L. Cooper, 46, this week for what they said was excessive punishment and neglect that also included forcing her to scrape the inside of a toilet and eat what was on her finger and not being allowed to eat or use the bathroom until she earned enough points cleaning the house.

Cooper also was charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of the girl she and her husband, Richard, adopted in 2008.

A phone message left at Cooper's home in Avella was not immediately returned, and district court officials said she did not have a lawyer on file.

The allegations of physical abuse include beatings with a hair brush, being spat on and being choked to the point of blacking out.

The matter came to light in May, as child welfare authorities in Washington County were investigating an alleged assault at the girl's school.

State settles lawsuit by abused Weller children

Date: 2014-10-10

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

The state has agreed to pay a $9.75 million settlement to five siblings who were abused for years by their parents, Jeffrey and Sandra Weller, in their Vancouver home.

The Wellers were sentenced in Clark County Superior Court in March 2013 to 20 years in prison for multiple crimes related to the abuse.

Two adopted twins, who were routinely imprisoned, beaten and starved by the Wellers, each received $3.1 million. The remaining $3.55 million of the settlement will be divided between the other three younger siblings, who are the Wellers’ biological children.

The lawsuit alleged that the state Department of Social and Health Services failed to adequately respond to dozens of complaints about the children’s welfare over an eight-year period or to investigate a history of Child Protective Services referrals involving Sandra Weller in California.

Mom Charged In Alleged Horrific Child Abuse Case

Date: 2014-10-09

By Mary Robb Jackson

CROSS CREEK TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A Washington County woman is facing a list of charges related to the alleged disturbing abuse of her adopted daughter.

According to the criminal complaint, Rana L. Cooper, 46, was charged on Monday.

The arrest came after police were notified in May by Washington County Children and Youth Services.

Cooper is accused of forcing the child to eat used cat litter, attempting to gouge the girl’s eyes out and trying to sew her mouth shut.

The complaint also claims Cooper choked the child until she blacked out on two occasions.

She is also accused of striking the girl in the face with a belt buckle and causing hearing loss by shoving a Q-tip in her ear.

Cooper allegedly forced the child to run her finger along the rim of the toilet and eat what was on her finger.

The girl told police she was only allowed to eat one time per day, but only after the rest of the family had finished their meal.

However, the woman’s 24-year-old son Ronnie says the allegations aren’t true.

PD: Mother accused of punching, biting children in Holly Hill

Date: 2014-10-08

HOLY HILL, Fla. —A Holly Hill mother is accused of biting and punching her two children, who suffer from mental disorders, according to police.

Investigators were alerted of the alleged abuse by the victims’ pastor, according to the Holly Hill Police Department.

According to the arrest affidavit, the children told the pastor their adopted mother, 37-year-old Allison Fowler, abused them after the pastor noticed scratch and bite marks on one of the children.

Police said the children revealed several incidents in which Fowler caused them physical and emotional abuse by punching, choking and calling them names. When police interviewed the boy, he said Monday night Fowler was screaming at him so he locked himself in the bathroom. Police said when she finally got to him, she grabbed him by his throat and bit his pinky finger

They also said Fowler had beaten them so badly in the past that they each received black eyes.

Allison Fowler’s mother, Donna Fowler, told investigators she witnessed the abuse and was afraid to tell police because she was afraid her daughter would hurt her too.

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