exposing the dark side of adoption
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18 Children in care of Tom and Debra Schmitz

2004 Jun 30

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.


Title Publication date
A Chinese girl is moved to Tennessee, and ‘hell’ begins 2013 Sep 11
Girl, given up by adoptive parents, made to dig own grave in abusive new home 2013 Sep 9
Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave 2013 Sep 9
Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas 2013 Sep 9
Mother begins serving sentence that even daughter thinks is too short 2007 May 27
Schmitzes enter plea agreements days before second trial 2006 Jul 11
Safe Haven or House of Horror? 2006 Feb 13
Adopted son defends couple accused of child abuse, trafficking 2006 Feb 4
Jurors hear testimony from children in case against Tom and Debra Schmitz 2006 Jan 31
Protect foster kids 2006 Jan 23
USA Today Helps Expose AT Underground Trafficking of Unwanted Children 2006 Jan 20
Underground network moves children from home to home 2006 Jan 18
Enclosed beds cause controversy 2006 Jan 17
Kenton mother accused of child abuse, makes bail 2004 Nov 11
Child Abuse in Two Huge Tennessee Families Investigated 2004 Sep 2
Schmitz' daughter talks about how her parents abused foster children 2004 Sep 1
New foster parent says children relieved to be rescued 2004 Aug 23
Charges reduced in alleged abuse case 2004 Aug 18
Pair charged in abuse case might see kids 2004 Jul 28
Affidavit: Children made to dig own graves Friday, July 9, 2004 2004 Jul 9
Authorities still wondering how Schmitzes got 18 children 2004 Jul 6
Abuse Claims At Noted Foster Home 2004 Jun 30
Police ponder more child abuse charges 2004 Jun 30
Allegations taint adoption story 2004 Jun 25
Tenn. couple specializes in raising kids 2003 May 11
Schmitz Family 2000 Mar 26
Families of Distinction 2000 Mar 26